US Expands Visa Program for Iraqis Tenfold

5,000 allies, plus families, can come to America annually
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 25, 2008 7:57 AM CDT
Mirembe Nantongo, spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, speaks to reporters at a news conference in Baghdad, Iraq.   (AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed, Pool)
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(Newser) – The US embassy in Baghdad announced a major expansion of its visa program for Iraqi employees of the American government, raising tenforld the number of work permits it currently offers. The move is the latest step by the Bush administration to answer criticism that it has neglected the Iraqis, particularly translators and supervisors, whose lives have been endangered because of their association with the US, the New York Times reports.

Tthe program will allow 5,000 Iraqis, along with their immediate families, to go to the United States for each of the next five years. But immigration experts noted that, because America has a global cap on the number of refugees it takes in, the increase in Iraqi visas will probably come at the expense of  applicants elsewhere.