The US Congress has approved the extension of the Special immigrant visa for the Afghan nationals up to 2020. This was however preceded by a fierce debate in the US Senate. This means the program will be in place till the expiry of the current term of US President Donald Trump.
The special immigration program of the US facilitates the Afghan nationals to relocate to the US if they face threats of being killed or tortured by the terrorist groups in Afghanistan. This is applicable to the Afghanis who have assisted the US-led coalition forces in the war against Taliban.
The E-2 Pact entrepreneur visa and E-1 Pact merchant visa have not been threatened by US President Donald Trump. In reality, though, due to the unavailability of visas and miscellaneous reasons the Afghani nationals are unable to avail the Special immigrant US visa program. Almost 446 million US dollars have been allocated for extending the Special visa program for the Afghanis, quotes Workpermit.
After 2014, the special visa for the Afghan nationals has been extended annually. The outgoing US President Barack Obama had signed the Authorization Act for National Defense that included a provision to extend this special visa for four years.
US Senator Jeanne Shaheen was quoted as saying that in the past too, the efforts to extend this visa were not without hurdles. But the extension in 2017 was the toughest one to be secured, added Shaheen.
Launched in 2009, the Special immigrant visa for Afghan nationals had aimed to provide 7,500 visas over a period of five years. Both in the years 2014 and 2015 the US Congress had passed a resolution to extend this visa program for another one year and allocated 7,000 extra visas. In spite of this, the demand has not been met by the supply of the visas.
The statistics revealed by the Department of State in the US reveals that around 13,000 Afghan nationals are pending the approval of their visas. But only 1, 632 visas were available as of October 2016.
Shaheen elaborated the process of seeking an extension this time by saying that the recent anti-immigration ambiance did have its effect on the prospects of securing the needful for the visa this time. In fact, some of the prominent people in the Senate were against approval of additional visas, added Shaheen.
The US Senator commended the efforts put forth by John McCain who was at the forefront of the dual coalition to ensure the approval of the resolution to extend the visa program.
Shaheen said that they were hopeful of additional visas for the program. But when the special immigration visa was initially not included in the defense authorization bill in the senate, the extension was delayed. Now when the extension is approved till 2020, the additional visas will be secured annually, explained Shaheen.
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