U.S. expands Afghan refugee program amid escalation of violence
The State Department stated that it will expand the eligibility for refugee admission beyond approximately 20,000 applicants.
The Biden administration has stepped up efforts to accept more Afghan citizens at risk because the Taliban will intensify their offensive before the U.S. forces withdraw from Afghanistan at the end of this month.
The US State Department said on Monday that it is expanding the range of Afghans eligible for assistance. Refugee status in the U.S. Includes current and former employees of U.S. news organizations, U.S. aid and development agencies, and other relief groups that receive U.S. funding.
Current and former employees of the U.S. government and NATO military operations who do not meet the criteria for developing special plans for such workers are also included.
The US State Department stated that this move would mean that “tens of thousands” of Afghans and their immediate family members will now have the opportunity to settle permanently in the United States as refugees.
It did not provide a more specific number of people who might be eligible to participate in the program.
“The goal of the United States is still a peaceful and secure Afghanistan,” it said in a statement.
“However, in view of the intensification of Taliban violence, the US government is working hard to provide some Afghans, including those who have worked with the United States, the opportunity to resettle refugees to the United States.”
The “Priority 2” category was created for Afghans in the U.S. Refugee Admission Program, aiming to provide assistance to Afghans and their immediate family members who “may be at risk due to U.S. relations” but cannot obtain special immigrant visas and do not directly work for the U.S. government or Not long enough in government work.
To qualify for the Priority 2 category, Afghans must be nominated by the most senior U.S. citizen employee of a U.S. government agency or U.S. media agency or non-governmental organization.
The first batch of Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants who have passed the security review arrived in the United States on Friday. Most of them worked as translators or did other work for the U.S. military or diplomats.
These 221 people are among the 2500 people who will be brought to the United States in the next few days.
Another 4,000 SIV applicants and their families who have not yet passed the security check are expected to be transferred to a third country before the U.S. withdrawal is completed. Approximately 20,000 Afghans expressed interest in the project.
President Joe Biden has ordered the withdrawal of the remaining U.S. troops by the end of this month, ending the longest war in U.S. history.
As the Taliban launched an offensive, the Biden administration admitted to worrying about the stability of the internationally supported government.
But it insists that the United States has done everything it can and has completed its primary task of eliminating the al-Qaeda fighters who launched the September 11, 2001 attack.