Afghan and Iraqis launch lawsuit against Blinken over US visa delays

Afghan and Iraqis launch lawsuit against Blinken over US visa delays
2 min read
Washington, D.C.
14 July, 2022
Special Immigrant Visa applicants from Afghanistan and Iraq are taking part in a class action lawsuit against US Secretary of State Antony Blinken over visa delays.
Afghans wait in line for passports. [Getty]

A class action lawsuit has been filed by Afghan and Iraqi contractors who have worked for the United States and are still waiting on their visas.

In the case of Afghan & Iraqi Allies v. Blinken, filed by the Afghan-American Foundation (AAF), the Association of Wartime Allies (AWA), and Veterans for American Ideals (VFAI) on behalf of Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants who have been waiting on their applications longer than the congressionally mandated nine months. Such delays have been ruled unlawful.

The Afghan and Iraqi plaintiffs are represented by the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer US LLP.

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In an IRAP press release, IRAP senior staff attorney, Katie Austin, said, "The US government has yet to fulfil its moral, congressional, and court-ordered obligations to Afghan and Iraqi SIV applicants."

Stressing the urgency of those delayed by the process, she emphasised, "Given the acute harm facing US-affiliated Afghans and Iraqis and the government’s clear mismanagement of the SIV program, it is reprehensible that the government is now claiming that its egregious delays are consistent with the law and that it should no longer be required to decide our clients’ applications quickly."

In a statement, a plaintiff delayed in Afghanistan said, “When the US evacuation efforts ended, my family and I were left behind in Afghanistan. My family and I were heartbroken and disappointed.”

Since then, "life has become increasingly dangerous. The Taliban are going door-to-door searching for people who have worked with the Americans, and I have had to change my address several times. I am very afraid that the Taliban will kill me if they find me and identify me as someone who served the US government,"  she said.