Above 11000 Afghans issued US immigrant visas
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): The United States has issued more than 7,900 special immigrant visas to Afghans who risked their lives working for American forces in Afghanistan.
In total more than 11,000 Afghans, taking into account their families, have benefited from the special visa programme in the fiscal year 2013-2014 ending Sept 30 this year.
“With respect to the special immigrant visa program, the State Department and the United States government are committed to supporting those who have helped the United States, often at great personal risk,” said State Department Spokesman Jeff Rathke at his daily news conference here.
He said they had issued more than 7,900 special immigrant visas to Afghans this year to principle applicants, benefiting more than 11,000 Afghans and their family members.
In August, Congress raised the ceiling, authorizing an additional 1,000 visas for the SIV program, and this allows US to keep issuing visas into Fiscal Year 2015.
“But there may be a need for additional action if we approach that ceiling. So this is something we take quite seriously, and we take every step we can to expedite the processing of these kinds of visas,” he told reporters in response to a question.
“We have the highest respect for men and women who take risks in supporting our military and civilian personnel. We are committed to helping those people who have helped us,” he said.
“All immigrant visa applicants are thoroughly vetted to ensure they do not pose a threat to the security of the United States,” Rathke said.
The issuance of special immigrant visas in Afghanistan has ramped up over the past year because the US has made a number of improvements to the processing times at every stage and we've also expanded our outreach to current employees, to former employees who might be eligible.
“We remain focused on expediting the processing time, but it's an interagency process that takes a bit of time to complete,” he said.
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