Special Immigrant Visas

Many people coming to the United States from Afghanistan in 2021 have arrived with a Special Immigrant Visa, or SIV. Benefits are available for those in the U.S. with an Special Immigrant Visa and will be for those who are still in the application process.

Background Image: Shawl, Mexico

Published: 12-2-21

Immigration law is always changing. We will do our best to keep our website as up-to-date as possible, but the latest information might be more readily available at USCIS.gov. These pages were written to help you better understand your legal options, however, none of the information published by Catholic Charities Milwaukee should be considered legal advice. If you plan to open your own immigration case, hire an immigration attorney to consult you personally.

Benefits for SIV Recipients

If you are an Afghan who has been given a Special Immigrant Visa, you are a lawful permanent resident. You can likely get benefits or help from the United States government, including:

You could also receive other services or aid offered through the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Other federal benefits

You might also be able to get other federal benefits like:

How to Apply for SIV Benefits

If you have a Special Immigrant Visa, you can sign up for these benefits and services at the state government benefits office, or closest resettlement agency in the state you resettled.

You should sign up for benefits now. Do not wait. You can only get these benefits and services for a short time.

  • For the Office of Refugee Resettlement, people with SIV can get a green card and will be eligible for benefits.
  • For most employment services and other aid, you will only be eligible for five years after you received your Special Immigrant Visa.

When you sign up for benefits you should bring proof of your Special Immigrant Visa and the date you received your SIV status.

You should bring:

You can also ask for help to fill out the correct forms to get your green card.  You can find more information regarding your benefits at the Office of Refugee Resettlement website here.

Pending SIV Applications

Some SIV Applications have not yet been processed by USCIS

If you applied for SIV, and have not yet received your visa, keep waiting. USCIS will continue to process the applications. 

In addition, you can still apply for your SIV if you are in the United States and are eligible. 

If you have an approved I-360 Form, but you did not have your embassy interview in Kabul before you left, you can fill out the Form I-485 to get an interview and green card in the United States. You must wait until you have an approved I-360 in order to submit your I-485.

For detailed information on the process of applying for a Special Immigrant Visa, watch our video below or follow this link.

Seek the Help of a Good Lawyer

We Can't Stress This Enough

These pages are intended to help you understand what you are looking for – not to help you complete any of these applications alone. Immigration law is detailed and complicated, and we urge you to rely on a well-trained lawyer for help. A lawyer can help you prepare for every step along the way.

Additional Resources

Becoming a United States citizen gives you many advantages over being a lawful permanent resident. Learn what you need to do to prepare for a citizenship application.

Refugees coming to the United States must make several adjustments, and often have questions about green cards, citizenship, and work permits.

These three immigration mistakes could seriously hurt your chances of getting a green card, or lawfully immigrating to the United States.