Former Afghan Interpreters Having A Tough Time In U.S.

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In 2009, Congress created the Special Immigrant Visa Program for military interpreters from Afghanistan. It was modeled on a similar program for Iraqi interpreters. The program allows Afghan linguists who spent more than a year working for U.S. forces to apply for a U.S. visa.

The process has been long, complicated and non-transparent. Many Afghans spent years in limbo, often in hiding from the Taliban. Many had their applications rejected for unspecified reasons and could not appeal. After a series of reforms in 2013, the process has improved, and now more than 15,000 Afghans and their families have relocated to the U.S. and have green cards.

But, as difficult as it is for Afghans to get visas to the U.S., that might actually be the easy part. As Sean Carberry originally reported for PBS NewsHour, many Afghans are struggling to build lives in the country they risked their lives to help.


  • Sean Carberry, former Kabul correspondent for NPR. He tweets @frankentele.

This segment aired on May 18, 2015.


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