GAO Releases Matsui-Requested Study of Special Immigrant Visa Holder Resettlement Process

Washington, D.C. – Today, the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report with recommendations to improve the resettlement process for Special Immigration Visa (SIV) holders.

In August 2016, Congresswoman Matsui led four of her colleagues – Representatives Earl Blumenauer, Zoe Lofgren, Seth Moulton, and former Representative John Conyers – in calling for the GAO to begin this study after troubling reports of SIV holders’ access to housing, employment, and education during the resettlement process in Sacramento and across the country.

The SIV programs provide lawful U.S. permanent residence for Iraqi and Afghan nationals who are in danger due to their work assisting the U.S. government through service as translators, interpreters, or in other capacities. Through September 2017, 67,000 SIVs have been granted to Iraqi and Afghan nationals.

The GAO report released today found that:

1) The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) should consider including SIV holders in its annual survey on refugees’ longer-term outcomes, and that

2) The Department of State should provide more detailed information on key issues to prospective SIV holders.  

“SIV holders helped servicemembers defend our country abroad, and I believe it is our duty to ensure we help them build their lives here in the United States,” said Congresswoman Matsui. “This report clearly indicates that we have more work to do, particularly in collecting additional data on the resettlement process so we can improve long term outcomes. I also believe, based on the experiences of those in Sacramento, that we need to strengthen the employment and housing resources we offer SIV holders. There is a role that Congress can play in ensuring these families have the help they need, and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on legislative options to do so.”

“These brave individuals risked everything to help our personnel—that’s why our bipartisan coalition fought so hard to create two programs to allow threatened Afghans and Iraqis to seek refuge in the United States. But it can’t stop there,” said Congressman Blumenauer. “We promised a pathway to safety for these allies, and that includes helping them make their new country home. To uphold our commitment, Congress must do more to assist with access to housing, education, and job-training. It’s the right thing to do.”

“Special Immigrant Visa recipients provided a critical service to our troops,” said Congresswoman Lofgren. “They were our partners in our fight against terror and deserving of our support.  Today’s GAO report found that SIV holders have particular resettlement challenges and recommended the HHS and Department of State gather more information on resettlement outcomes.  I applaud Rep. Matsui for asking the GAO to examine this important issue and I look forward to working with her in Congress to address the particular challenges this report highlights.”

The full GAO report can be found here.