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Afghan evacuees in the US given visa extensions

19 May 20230 comments

The US Government has extended the temporary status of Afghan refugees so they will be able to continue to live and work in the US. 

The US’ Department of Homeland Security announced recently that Afghan nationals who arrived in the US under humanitarian grounds through Operation Allies Welcome, which saw vulnerable Afghans able to resettle in the US after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, will be able to request new visas starting next month. 

The announcement said the requests will be reviewed on a “case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons and significant public benefit”.

The move comes as visas for the Afghan nationals start to expire over the northern summer.

But the US Congress has struggled to pass the proposed ‘Afghan Adjustment Act’, which would provide 80,000 Afghans who fled Afghanistan in 2021 with a path a citizenship in the US.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to the continued safety, security, and well-being of the thousands of Afghan nationals who arrived in the United States through OAW and continue to through Enduring Welcome (EW),” the announcement said.

“The Administration has repeatedly put forward an adjustment act and publicly called on Congress to support a bipartisan adjustment act that would provide a durable, more streamlined immigration pathway for those currently in parole.”

The announcement also said that Afghan nationals in the US should pursue permanent status in the US that they are eligible for.

It says the homeland security department will start hosting Afghan Support Centres to provide information about immigration and social services available to the refugees.

The first location will be in Phoenix, Arizona, and others will be announced in the coming weeks.

The US government has previously said that just over a year after the Taliban took over Afghanistan, it would largely end its use of humanitarian parole to allow Afghans to enter the country, requiring those yet to arrive to demonstrate family ties in the US, a connection to the U.S. military or that they are among the most vulnerable to gain entry.

Most of the Afghans were part of an evacuation operation that was one of the largest airlifts in history.

Between August 14 and 25, 2021, the US alone evacuated about 82,300 people from Kabul’s airport including US citizens, visa applicants, and other vulnerable Afghans.

In total, about 22,000 people were airlifted overseas.

The large-scale evacuations of foreign citizens and vulnerable Afghans took place amid the withdrawal of US and NATO forces at the end of the 2001-2021 war in Afghanistan.

The Taliban took control of Kabul and declared victory on August 15, 2021, and the NATO-backed Islamic Republic of Afghanistan collapsed.

Although some countries had previously begun small-scale evacuation efforts in the months leading up to August 2021, the collapse of the Afghan government occurred sooner than intelligence projections had estimated, and evacuation efforts became more urgent.