5,700 Afghans have applied for U.S. visas under Afghan Allies Protection Act, just 32 have been approved
Posted by Christopher Coen on October 27, 2012
Just under 5,700 Afghans who have applied for U.S. visas under the Afghan Allies Protection Act are waiting in indefinite limbo. Only 32 have been approved since 2009. Some interpreters say they have waited years with hardly a word from the State Department about their applications. Until late 2011, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul did not process a single visa under the program. An article in the Washington Post explains:
KABUL — Of the more than 5,700 Afghans who have applied for U.S. visas under a special program tailored for those who have supported the American war effort, just 32 have been approved, the State Department says, leaving the rest in limbo as foreign forces begin their withdrawal.
The growing, protracted backlog threatens to undermine congressionally approved legislation, as well as the longstanding guarantee that the United States will protect Afghans whose contribution to the American mission has left them hunted and vulnerable.
In 2009, the Afghan Allies Protection Act allocated 7,500 visas for Afghans employed by the U.S. government, mostly as military interpreters. The legislation was intended to respond to a prospect that the interpreters knew well: Without a swift escape route, they would be high-priority targets for the Taliban after the American war effort draws down.
But the channel established by Congress has been far from swift. Some interpreters say they have waited years with hardly a word from the State Department about their applications…Since 2007, at least 80 interpreters have been killed in combat.
Until late 2011, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul did not process a single visa under the Afghan Allies program, according to the State Department...
About 400 Afghan interpreters have received visas through other immigration programs. But those programs largely dried up by 2010, when the Afghan Allies legislation was originally supposed to be implemented…
U.S. military officials say they’re frustrated the visas have not come more quickly.
“The visa process is a black hole,” said one U.S. military official in Afghanistan who has helped 30 interpreters apply for visas. “We haven’t heard a word about a single application. From what I’ve seen, they aren’t processing anything.”… Read more here