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US Senate approves 4,000 more visas for Afghans under the SIV program

US-visa-for-AfghansThe United States senate has approved at least four thousand more visas for the Afghan nationals who have worked with the US-led coalition and fearing persecution by the militant groups, it has been reported.

The new visas were approved by the US lawmakers in the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.

According to Reuters, the committee included the additional visas in its version of the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a must-pass piece of legislation that sets priorities for the Department of Defense budget for fiscal 2018, which will be about $650 billion.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen has said “Our nation owes a great debt to the civilians who have provided essential assistance to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, and I am very pleased that this legislation authorizes the necessary visas for these brave men and women.”

This comes as the United States approved 2,500 visas for the Afghan nationals under a similar program earlier last month.

The US government had approved 1,500 visas for the Afghan nationals under the National Defense Authorization Act which was passed in late 2016.

However, reports emerged later suggesting that the US embassy in Kabul has run out of visas and has stopped scheduling interviews for the applicants.

“It’s both a moral and practical imperative that Congress approve additional visas. Thousands of Afghans have put themselves, and their families, at risk to help our soldiers and diplomats accomplish the U.S. mission and return home safely,” Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen was quoted as saying by Reuters.

The Senate Armed Services Committee last year opposed to extend or authorizing new visa for the Afghan Special Immigration Visa Program. -KP

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