Enacted by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006, Afghan and Iraqi translators became eligible for the new special immigrant translator classification to immigrate to the United States. Those who are eligible must: (1) be a national of Iraq or Afghanistan; (2) have worked directly with the U.S. Armed Forces as a translator for a period of at least 12 months; (3) have obtained a favorable written recommendation from a General or Flag Officer in the chain of command of the unit supported by the translator; (4) have cleared a background check and screening as determined by a General or Flag Officer in the chain of command of the unit supported by the translator; and (5) be otherwise eligible to receive an immigrant visa and otherwise admissible to the United States for permanent residence. The type of background check and screening required is determined by the Department of Defense on a case-by-case basis. The beneficiaries under this category are also not subject to the “public charge” grounds for inadmissibility.

Under this program, USCIS is authorized to process up to 50 Afghan and Iraqi translators each year. On November 8, 2006, USCIS announced that it had received enough petitions for fiscal year 2007. USCIS continued to accept petitions until November 17, 2006, but returned the filings that were received after that date. Those petitions filed before the cut-off date will be processed for the next available visa cycle.