US Baghdad embassy grants immigrant visas to Iraqi employees

Other News Materials 24 July 2008 20:23 (UTC +04:00)

The US embassy in Baghdad announced Thursday it would grant 5,000 immigrant visas each year for the next five years to all Iraqis working for the US government in Iraq, reported dpa.

The move comes under a special immigrant visa programme authorized by the a US legislation in June, the embassy said in a statement.

Applicants should have "experienced or be experiencing an ongoing serious threat as a result of US government employment," the statement said.

Visa recipients will be given resettlement benefits in the US similar to those received by refugees, including health care, housing and access to other programmes for up to eight months.

Iraqis, who worked for private security firms on behalf of the US government, will be also eligible.

Iraqi interpreters working for US-led coalition troops fear for their lives and a number of them have been killed in target attacks since the US-led invasion in 2003.

The number of Iraqis, who may be targeted as collaborators because they work for the US government, coalition troops or other foreign groups, is estimated to be as high as 100,000.

Until recently, no employees other than interpreters could obtain US immigrant visas. Before a recent increase of the annual visa quota for translators from 50 to 500, applicants faced a nine-year backlog. dpa sf sc