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.
This information was revised in August 2023. Requirements may change. Always check for current requirements from the government or agency deciding your request.
If you are in a refugee emergency, we recommend that you contact the UNHCR office in the country where you live .
About this guide
This guide is for people who meet all three of these criteria:
- You are an Afghan SIV applicant.
- You received a COM denial.
- Your COM denial lists this reason: “Lack of qualifying employment by or on behalf of the USG or by ISAF/RS: You have not established that your employment required you to serve as an interpreter or translator for personnel of the Department of State, USAID, or U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan or to perform sensitive and trusted activities for the U.S. government in Afghanistan.”
If you were denied for a different reason, see IRAP’s guide on COM denials here. If several reasons are listed, you must include information to address every reason for denial.
How to appeal your COM denial
Below is a sample letter that you can send to COM to appeal your denial. The letter starts below the solid line. To use this letter, follow these instructions carefully.
- Read this letter. Make sure that this information applies to you.
- Copy the letter from this website into a place where you can edit it. This could be an email or a Word document.
- Fill in your name, date of birth, and case number at the top of the email.
- The paragraphs that are in [brackets] are instructions for you. You should not send these sections with the letter. Follow the directions in the highlighted section. Then delete the highlighted sections.
- Send the letter to the SIV program. Copy the letter into the email from NVC that sent you your denial letter. That email should have come from the email address AfghanSIVApplication@state.gov or CANVCAfghanSIVApplication@state.gov.
You can appeal your COM denial within 120 days of the day that you received your COM denial letter from NVC. The date on your COM denial letter may be earlier than when NVC emailed you, but you have 120 days from when COM sent you the denial letter.
If your COM application was denied, but 120 days have passed since you received your denial, you may submit a new COM application. See here for the Department of State's list of the requirements for COM approval.
[Follow the instructions in bold and delete all highlighted sections before sending. You should include Section 1 and Section 4 in your email. Sections 2 and 3 are optional. You can include either section 2 or section 3. Only include them if that section applies to you.]
Date of Birth:
Dear Chief of Mission:
I appeal the Chief of Mission’s (COM) denial of my Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) application. I meet the requirements for an SIV in Section 602(b)(2)(A) of the AAPA, as amended by NDAA 2020.
COM denied my application because I did not work as an interpreter or “perform sensitive and trusted activities.” On December 20, 2019, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (NDAA FY2020) was signed into law. Section 1216 of NDAA FY2020 changed the requirements for an SIV.
SIV applicants no longer have to show that they worked as an interpreter or translator for the Department of State, USAID, or U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan or “perform[ed] sensitive and trusted activities for the United States government in Afghanistan.”
The only reason that COM provided for denying my application was that I did not work as an interpreter or translator or perform sensitive and trusted activities. As such, I am addressing only that reason for denial in my appeal.
Congress removed the requirement to work as an interpreter or translator for the Department of State, USAID, or U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan or perform sensitive and trusted activities. That requirement is longer part of the law, and I should receive COM approval.
If COM has any other reason to believe that I have not provided the evidence needed to show that I qualify for an SIV, I request an opportunity to address that issue without COM denying my appeal.
[Sections 2 and 3 are optional. Include section 2 if you did work as a translator or interpreter for the U.S. military, State Department, or USAID. Include section 3 if you did not work in one of those roles but you think that you did perform sensitive and trusted activities. If neither of those applies to you, delete both sections.]
[Section 2: Include this section if you worked as an interpreter or translator for the U.S. military, State Department, or USAID. You can add more information about your work as an interpreter or translator here also.]
My COM application should be approved even if COM decides to apply the repealed standard. I did work as an interpreter or translator for the U.S. military, State Department, or USAID.
[Section 3: Include this section if you did NOT work as an interpreter or translator with the U.S. military, State Department or USAID, but you believe that you performed “sensitive and trusted” activities. Include Section 3.a and then review carefully Section 3.b.]
My COM application should be approved even if COM decides to apply the repealed standard. I did “perform sensitive and trusted activities” as part of my work. The term “sensitive and trusted” activities was not defined in law. But this term should include things like:
- Careful handling of information, personnel, or government property.
- Protecting secrecy of sensitive information.
- Tasks that, if I performed them poorly, could result in harm to U.S. Government property or workers.
My job required me to perform sensitive and trusted activities. Specifically:
[Section 3.b. Include the statements below that apply to you. Delete any statements that do not apply to you. You can add your own reasons. You can also add more information to explain any reason that applies to you.]
- My U.S. citizen supervisor stated in my recommendation letter that my work required me to perform sensitive and trusted activities.
- I was entrusted with tasks that could have put U.S. Government personnel at risk if I performed them poorly.
- I worked close to sensitive or secured intelligence-related operations.
- I had to pass a security or counterintelligence screening before I could begin my job.
- I had to obtain a security clearance as part of my employment.
- I was authorized to carry a weapon.
- I was authorized to use a computer at a U.S. government location.
- My employment contract imposed restrictions on information that I could disclose.
- The contract between my employer and U.S. government entity imposed restrictions on information that I could disclose.
- I had personal knowledge that, if I shared it with others, could have resulted in me being terminated from employment, detained by U.S. or Afghan government personnel, or prosecuted.
[Section 4. Include your name at the bottom of your email.]
[YOUR NAME and the date]
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.