Thursday, April 18, 2024

Afghan Allies to Receive 20,000 More Visas Under SIV

Immigration News

Nizamuddin Rezahi
Nizamuddin Rezahi
Nizamuddin Rezahi is a journalist and editor for Khaama Press. You may follow him @nizamrezahi on Twitter.

US Senators introduced a new bill seeking to bring stability to the visa program for Afghan allies, by doubling the number of visas available and extending the program for five years.

The bill was introduced by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss., aimed at reducing the backlog of visa applications with several provisions to streamline the process.

“Afghanistan may not be on the front pages anymore, however, the United States cannot forget the promise we made to our Afghan allies who helped the US troop during the 20-year-long war mission in the war-torn country,” Shaheen said in a statement last week.

Shaheen and Wicker are members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Wicker serves as the top Republican on the panel.

The program, known as the Special Immigration Vis or SIV has faced delayed processing and backlog for years, particularly with the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021.

Those Afghans who worked with the American troops and left in Afghanistan are extremely worried about being hunted down by the Taliban group. While the US military evacuated tens of thousands of Afghans during the withdrawal, just a fraction were SIV applicants or visa holders.

There are still thousands of SIV applicants and their family members desperately waiting to hear about their applications, who have already faced delayed processing.  

As of the end of 2022, It is estimated that nearly 63,000 Afghan applicants were waiting for what’s known as chief of mission approval, which paved the way for extending the program for another year.

Meanwhile, another 77,000 applicants have already started the application process according to the State Department’s most recent quarterly report.

Besides, the SIV program faced opposition from some Republicans who are migration hard-liners, with the fear of ending the program – it eventually found a home in the government spending bill passed in December.

The currently authorized program until 2024 will be extended through 2029, aimed at issuing 20,000 more visas, bringing a total of visas approved to 54,500.

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