WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a critical move for ensuring the safety of U.S. allies, the Biden administration is preparing to relocate tens of thousands of Afghans who aided U.S. troops and civilian efforts to safe locations outside Afghanistan as the U.S. withdraws.
Afghan allies and their families will reportedly be relocated to third countries while their U.S. visa applications are processed, although it remains unclear where applicants would wait, which countries have agreed to take them or when evacuations will take place.
While many of these Afghans are eligible for Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), applicants currently face a backlog of more than 18,000, not counting an estimated 53,000 family members.
Time is of the essence for Afghan allies and their families, who continue to face threats from the Taliban for their work with the U.S. With the September deadline for U.S. troop withdrawal nearing, the danger to these allies is only increasing. Veterans and national security leaders have joined SIV recipients to underscore the need for an immediate evacuation plan. The Forum recently published a fact sheet explaining the context and urgency of the situation, and another on Special Immigrant Visa programs.
“This is wonderful news for the thousands of Afghans who have put their lives on the line for us, and signals to our allies across the world that the U.S. keeps its promises,” said Ali Noorani, President and CEO of the National Immigration Forum. “We look forward to hearing more details on where, when and how evacuations will proceed. Given the SIV backlog and lengthy process, Congress should expedite legislative action and the administration should consider using humanitarian parole to facilitate the evacuation.”