On July 7, 2008, the USCIS issued a memorandum revising the Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) by adding new guidance on adjudicating Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er) or Special Immigrant, for persons claiming Special Immigrant status under the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal year 2008. The guidance is effective immediately.

Per the AFM guidance, principal applicants under this provision must be Iraqi nationals who have been employed in good standing by the U.S. government, or on behalf of the U.S. government, for at least one year after March 20, 2003. Note that Iraqis who worked for private contractors on behalf of the U.S. government are also eligible. Applicants must have experienced or be experiencing an ongoing serious threat as a result of U.S. government employment. Any approved applicant will need to pass a security background check and must be otherwise eligible to receive an immigrant visa to the United States.

The legislation establishing this special immigrant visa program authorized resettlement benefits for visa recipients, similar to those received by refugees. These benefits include transportation (recipients sign a promissory note and must ultimately repay airfare) to the U.S. and housing, health care and access to other programs for up to eight months to help new immigrants settle in the United States. Spouses and minor unmarried children of principal applicants are eligible for the same immigrant visa without counting toward the annual cap of 5,000 per year. All applicants are strongly advised not to make any travel arrangements, sell property, or give up employment until they have been issued a visa by the U.S. Embassy.