"There are about 18,000 people who have expressed interest – or more – in using this program to come to the United States," Blinken told an Atlantic Council podcast on Monday." In other words, 18,000 people who worked directly with our soldiers, with our diplomats in Afghanistan."
Blinken said half of that number had already completed the necessary bureaucratic processes but the other half was just starting them.
"About 9,000 of those are just in the beginning of the process. They’ve expressed interest, they’re looking at it, they haven’t filled out the forms. Another 9,000, though, have filled out the forms. They’re working through the process, and we’ve got a number of them that are awaiting approval by our embassy in Afghanistan and others who are actually in the immigration process itself," he said.
The State Department had added 50 officials to those dealing with the Special Immigrant Visas required by those individuals and they had already succeeded in eliminating some backlogs that had existed in the process, Blinken said.