Saturday, April 4, 2009

Visa Denial for Iraqi Translator

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A commenter asked me:

Have you seen this about the Iraqi translator that was denied a US visa? I'm wondering what your take on this sort of thing is.

I have no knowledge about consular or visa matters in general, much less this case in particular, so I looked up the State Department's publicly available description of the visa program under which the Iraqi translator applied.

He applied for a very narrow category of Special Immigrant Visa, for which he evidently is qualified. His problem was that in order to be approved for an SIV he also had to meet the regular admissibility requirements for an immigrant to the United States. The translator's criminal record makes him generally inadmissible, so his request for an SIV was denied.

U.S. immigration law seems reasonably clear on the matter of criminal records. The news reports I've seen often confused the SIV program for Iraqi and Afghan translators with the more generous programs for refugees who fear persecution, however, there are big differences. This comparison explains the differences, one of which is that SIV applicants:

Must be otherwise eligible to receive an immigrant visa and [be] otherwise admissible to the U.S. for permanent residence, except in determining such admissibility, the grounds for inadmissibility specified in section 212 (A)(4) of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1182 (a)(4) relating to "public charge" shall not apply).

It has been alleged that the translator was denied an SIV out of some personal pique or bias against him by U.S. embassy personnel in Baghdad, but I very much doubt that was the case. The State Department has no choice but to implement the immigration laws that Congress passed and the President signed.

So, what can the translator in question do now? He might be able to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility by arguing that his crime of stealing Uday Hussein's car shouldn't be held against him [personally, I'd give him a waiver just for having had the stones to do that]. Or, possibly, he might reapply under the refugee visa program on grounds that he has a reasonable fear of persecution due to his affliation with the U.S. government.

The 'fear of persecution' angle is working for Aunt Zeituni, our KAOPOTUS, why shouldn't it work for one of our Iraqi translators as well?


hannah said...

I do SIVs at my embassy, and you're spot on, TSB. We can't ignore a conviction in the home country just because we think it's a ballsy move - our hands are guided, and in this case tied, by the laws that Congress passes. I hope the officer advised him to apply for a waiver.

Consul-At-Arms said...

Good analysis. And Hannah is right.

I've quoted you and linked to you here:

Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake said...

This is a great example of rule of law, rather than of men.

And a better example of how good laws have provisions for special circumstances. I hope he gets that waiver. And a medal, while we're at it :)

Anonymous said...

I think it's rule of man because it based on one man desune!! is the consular officer??!

MEL said...

Dear sir,
I am an interpreter from Iraq too and i just got denial for my SIV because{derogatory information which has been determined to be incompatible with the regulations of the SIV,has been associated with you}this is what i got,I've never ever gave any wrong or changed any info about me in all the 12-13 screening i had since May 2004 i served in a company on base then 1 year for AAFES then 26 months as an interpreter,never had a problem with any one and i earned the trust of all the units i worked with,please sir whom i need to talk to or contact because i feel like i'm LOST,thanks sir for your time i appreciate it,my E-mail address is

TSB said...


I'm not a consular officer, but I think a consular officer (like the ones who commented above) would suggest that you contact the embassy again and apply for a "waiver of inadmissibility." That would allow the people reviewing your visa request to consider whether or not to set aside the derogatory information that made you inadmissible for an SIV.

Good luck!

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TSB said...



Unknown said...

He is not the only one i have same Story .. And that is Good that he know why they say
NO to him .. For me they put me on Hold for now 9 months For nothing ....

I think its better for them to Give the Visa to Al-Qaeda ... (This is what the DOS DOING ALL THE TIME) .. Better than who served America more than the Americans ..