The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) provides free legal help to some refugees and displaced people.
- IRAP helps some people find services and prepare refugee and visa applications.
- IRAP is not part of any government, IOM, or UNHCR.
- IRAP cannot grant refugee status or visas or speed up cases.
- IRAP cannot provide financial help, find or pay for housing, or find jobs.
- All of IRAP’s help is free. No one affiliated with IRAP has the right to ask you for money or any other service.
IRAP decides to help people based on their need and eligibility for immigration status. IRAP does not decide to help people based on any other social or political or religious criteria.
This website provides general information about legal processes available to some refugees. It is not meant as legal advice for individual applications.
If you are in a refugee emergency, we recommend that you contact the UNHCR office in the country where you live .
This guide provides information on how to find contract information if you have worked with a company that had a contract or a subcontract with the U.S. government, or a company that did not have a contract but had a grant, award or cooperative agreement.
Background on applying for a Special Immigrant Visa:
- The current requirements for an SIV are on the State Department website here.
- You must include all of the required documents in your application to the Chief of Mission (COM).
- If you already submitted your COM application and are waiting for a decision, and you obtain new or updated documents relevant to your eligibility, you should submit those new documents to NVC and request that they be added to your pending application or appeal. NVC should add those to your COM application or appeal for COM to review, but it is ultimately up to COM whether to review the new materials that were added. If your application is denied and you wish to appeal or start a new application, you can submit those new documents again with the appeal or new application to ensure that they have been reviewed.
- If you are unable to obtain any particular document you should submit a statement of unavailability explaining why you cannot obtain that document.
COM will need to verify your employment by or on behalf of the U.S government, or by ISAF or a successor mission. You must show that you worked for at least one year.
You may qualify for an SIV if:
- You worked directly with ISAF or a successor mission;
- You worked directly for the U.S. government; or
- Your employer had a contract or subcontract with the United States government.
If you worked directly for the U.S. government, ISAF, or ISAF’s successor mission, submit your employment verification letter. This is a letter from your company’s human resources department. This is called the HR letter. It should be on the agency letterhead and should prove that your work qualifies. More information on what your employment letters should include is available in IRAP’s guide on HR letters here.
If you worked for a company that had a contract or subcontract with the U.S. government:
There are several ways to prove that your company had a contract or subcontract with the U.S. government for the required time:
See if your employment letter contains your contract numbers
This is a common way to meet the requirement. Your HR letter should include information about the contracts or subcontracts that your company had when you were employed. Your employer should list all of the contracts and subcontracts for the full time that you were employed. If your company had a subcontract, they should include information about the subcontract and the prime contract. You must prove that your company had one or more contract(s) or subcontract(s) for the full year that you worked to qualify for an SIV.
More information on what your employment letters should include is available in IRAP’s guide on HR letters here.
Get a copy of the contract from your employer
You can email your employer and/or supervisor directly to ask for a copy of the contract. Tips on how to locate your supervisor or employer can be found in IRAP’s guide on contacting supervisors or employers here.
Sometimes an employer or supervisor does not have a copy of the contract. Sometimes they have the contract but will not provide a copy of the contract. You can explain that you might not be able to receive an SIV without a copy of the contract with the U.S. government during the period that you worked. You can also explain that all you need is the first page of the contract. They can redact any proprietary or confidential information.
How can I find the contract or contract number if I cannot get it from my supervisor or employer?
You can look for contracts between your employer and the U.S. government in these ways:
Search U.S. government databases for contracts.
You can search the public databases of U.S. government contracts.
In the field “ezSearch,” enter your company’s name, then a space, then this phrase:
- Make sure that you enter this exactly. This will make sure that the results return only contracts that funded work in Afghanistan for your employer.
- Look for contracts that overlapped with your time of employment.
- Under “Sort By” on the right hand side, click “Date Signed.”
- Now look through the contracts for those signed before or during your work.
- If you find a contract that overlaps with your work, you can click “View” to see more information and to print a page.
- Print a copy of the contract information as a PDF. Include this with your COM application or appeal.
- You can also try searching another database of U.S. government contracts on usaspending.gov.
Use the contract number to find a copy of the contract.
Once you have the contract number, search public databases to make sure the government can also find the contract. Send COM copies of your searches.
- Go to FPDS, a public database of government contracts.
- Remove dashes (- or /) and spaces from the contract number and enter it into the search bar. If you worked with USAID, insert “AID” at the beginning of the contract number.
Search IRAP’s database
IRAP’s database of U.S. government contracts in Afghanistan is here. You can search by the contract number and the dates that you worked.
- Remember that the dates listed are the start date and end date for the contract.
- If the contract number is in the database, you include a PDF of the results with your COM submission or appeal and request that DOS contact the DOD if needed to verify the existence of the contract.
How do I understand the contract?
Key information to look for includes:
- Contract number.
- U.S. contracting party. This is the U.S. government agency that signed the contract.
- The name of the contractor. Make sure that this is the name of your employer.
- Start and end dates of the contract. This is important for two reasons. First, to make sure you worked during the time of the contract. Second, to make sure the contract covers enough of your qualifying work.
- Whether it is signed.
How do I find proof of U.S. Government funding if my employer was a subcontractor?
Many SIV applicants worked for employers that were subcontractors for a second company. The second company was then a direct contract with the U.S. Government. That company is called the prime contractor. In that situation, you must find proof that the prime contractor had a contract with the U.S. Government. You must also prove that your company had a subcontract with the primer contractor.
Use the steps above to find the prime contractor contract number. Submit that proof to NVC. Also submit proof of the contract between the prime contractor and your employer. This proof could be a copy of the subcontract. Your employer could also include the subcontract number in your HR letter.
What if I worked for a company that did not have a contract, but had a grant, award, or cooperative agreement?
COM and the U.S. government have told applicants that working for a company that has a “grant, award, or cooperative agreement” does not qualify an applicant for an SIV.
If your company had a grant, award, or cooperative agreement listed in your employment letter, check to see if there were other contracts or subcontracts that you worked under. If your company also had contracts or subcontracts with the U.S. government, it will be important to include proof of those.
If your employer only had a grant, award, or cooperative agreement with the U.S. government, you may be eligible for the U.S. Afghan P-2 refugee program. See IRAP’s guide on the U.S. Afghan refugee program here.
What if I am not sure about whether my company had a contract or subcontract?
If you are not sure and think you may qualify, you can still apply to COM with all of your employment information and the other required documents to receive a decision.
You should also ask your employer if they know whether they held a qualifying contract or subcontract.
Asking for help
You or your relative may want to ask an immigration attorney for help with this process. Here are a few resources:
- Information about asking for help from IRAP is here.
- If you are in Jordan, you can ask for IRAP Jordan’s help using this form. If the form is closed, you can check back at a later date.
- A list of free immigration legal service providers in the United States is available here. These attorneys are not affiliated with IRAP.
- A list of private immigration attorneys in the United States is available here. Please note that private immigration attorneys may charge a fee for their services. These attorneys are not affiliated with IRAP.