Biden Administration Announces Evacuation of Afghan Visa Applicants
14:23 GMT 14.07.2021 (Updated: 16:35 GMT 08.12.2022)
© AP Photo / Rahmat GulA fly Dubai plane departs Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, July 4, 2021.
© AP Photo / Rahmat Gul
Several media outlets earlier reported that some Afghan applicants for American visas had been experiencing trouble getting them prior to the US exit from Afghanistan. Many of the applicants fear the Taliban could retaliate against them and their families for helping American and NATO forces.
The Biden administration has confirmed an earlier report by Reuters that it will launch an evacuation of Afghan visa applicants. The evacuation will be carried out as an operation dubbed "Allied Refuge" and will affect only Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants from the country. The operation will start as early as the last week of July.
The US has been offering visas under the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) programme to Afghans who systematically helped American and NATO troops stationed in the country for at least two years. Over 26,500 SIVs have been issued to guides, interpreters, and others, as well as their families, over the almost 20 years that the allied troops have been in the country.
However, many more Afghans are still waiting for their applications to be processed, which can take up to several months, or in rare cases even longer. Others are facing issues applying for an SIV, for example by not meeting the requirement of having helped the allies for at least two years.
At the same time, several media outlets reported that many Afghans who have lent a helping hand to the US or NATO troops have faced threats of retribution against them and their families from the Taliban*. Many of them fear for their lives and the lives of their relatives, as the Islamist movement is reportedly making advances and taking control over more of the country. The Taliban's latest successes are linked with the American and NATO troops gradually leaving the country and abandoning military bases there. The withdrawal is scheduled to be complete by 11 September 2021, after which Kabul will largely depend on its own security forces in confrontations with Taliban fighters.