US congress extends SIV program for Afghans with 1,500 additional visas
By Khaama Press - Fri Dec 09 2016, 10:18 am
According to reports, the measure passed by the Congress also allows an additional 1,500 Special Immigration Visas (SIVs) for the Afghan nationals facing severe threats.
However, the renewal of the program imposes more eligibility restrictions amid concerns that the renewal will not be enough considering the number of the pending applications which is around 13,000.
Rep. Doris Matsui said “I’m pleased that we have taken a step forward by extending the program.”
However, she said it doesn’t go far enough, insisting that there’s a need for more visas and resettlement help for the Afghans.
Matsui further added that more than 10,000 Afghans and their families have applied to use the visa program, and advocates say the additional 1,500 visas in the bill falls far short of the need.
This comes as a Senate panel, Appropriations Committee, decided late in June this year to grant 4,000 more visa to Afghans who have helped the coalition forces.
Earlier, the Senate Armed Services Committee opposed to extend or authorizing new visa for the Afghan Special Immigration Visa Program.
The United States Department of State expressed concerns regarding the decision by the Senate Armed Services Committee for not extending or authorizing new visa for the Afghan Special Immigration Visa Program.
A spokesperson for the State Department, John Kirby, told reporters in mid-May “I do want to note that the department’s disappointed that the Senate Armed Services Committee did not extend or authorize new visas for the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program.”