USA and the UK
Who is Waiting for Visas?
As U.S. forces withdrew from Afghanistan, the Taliban quickly re-took the country in a matter of mere weeks. This quick takeover has resulted in chaos in the country and millions of people try to flee. Amongst those who are most in danger are the tens of thousands of Afghan nationals who have risked their lives to assist the U.S. military in the 20-year long conflict.
It is estimated that more than 300,000 Afghan civilians have helped U.S. forces in Afghanistan however only a few of these civilians meet the requirements for a Special Immigrant Visa (EB4 Visa). Many of these people who qualify for visas are those who have worked as interpreters alongside American soldiers in combat. So far over the years, 34,500 authorized visas have been given to these individuals, and more than 15,000 Afghan nationals, plus their family members, have already been resettled in the U.S. with special immigrant visas. As the Taliban takes over the country, thousands of Afghans are stuck waiting for visas whose processing is delayed in a years-long backlog that is worsening as the urgent need for evacuation grows.
Since July 2021, around 2,000 Afghan nationals whose cases had already been approved have been relocated to the United States on evacuation flights from Kabul to a military base in Virginia. It is estimated that at least 18,000 people have applications pending. Those who are left behind in the country awaiting approval for visas fear for their safety knowing full well that if found, they will face grave retribution from the Taliban for helping U.S. forces.
What are the EB4 Visa Requirements?
In order for Afghan nationals to qualify for a Special Immigrant Visa (EB4 Visa), they must have been employed for at least 2 years by the U.S. government or an associated entity. They must also be able to prove that they performed a valuable service by providing a letter of recommendation from an American supervisor.
In addition, they must also demonstrate that they are experiencing or have experienced a serious threat to their safety as a consequence of their work for the United States. Those who have assisted U.S. troops, diplomats, and aid workers in the past have been threatened, kidnapped, attacked, and killed as a result of their association with the U.S.
Why is the EB4 Visa Process so Long?
Due to the many steps in the Special Immigrant visa application process coupled with the amount of documentation needed to support their case, many applicants experience processing delays that are years long. Even though Congress has specified that it should take no more than 9 months to process this type of visa, many applicants wait years for a decision as they wait for document reviews and security checks.
However, those who are approved for a Special Immigrant Visa and have relocated to the United States are granted green cards and are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship after 5 years of continuous residence in the country.
What is the Biden administration doing to help?
Since July, the U.S. government has worked to evacuate around 2,000 Afghan nationals and their family members from Kabul. However, due to the quick takeover by the Taliban, these evacuation flights have been suspended since Sunday, August 15th.
Last week, U.S. officials announced plans to dispatch 1,000 staff members to Qatar to help speed up visa processing for those Afghan nationals who have already fled the country. The Biden administration is also in talks with other countries in the Middle East and Central Asia to temporarily host Afghan nationals until they can safely be resettled in the United States.
Those Afghans who worked for non-governmental organizations, media outlets, and any other organizations affiliated with the U.S., may be able to apply for U.S. refugee status if referred to the program by their employer.
How can IAS help me?
If you are a U.S. citizen or green card holder and have family members abroad that you would like to sponsor for a U.S. visa, speak to one of our qualified immigration lawyers today to find out how we can assist you.
All of our attorneys are experts in immigration law and have the knowledge and expertise to help you with your immigration needs.
- Assessing your eligibility against the requirements of your chosen immigration route
- Liaising directly with you or your family members (where relevant) to explain the process in detail
- Advising on the documents needed based on your circumstances to make a successful application
- Completing a visa application form to the highest standards
- Providing a letter of support to bolster your application
- Engaging with USCIS on your behalf while your application is being considered
Contact us on +1 844 290 6312 to speak with an immigration lawyer about your case. We look forward to working with you over the phone or by online video call.
Last modified on June 29th, 2023 at 4:33 am
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