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Council votes to expedite visa processing for Afghans helping US

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a weekly news conference at the US Capitol June 24, 2021 in Washington, D.C.

Alex Wong | Getty Images

The council approved a law Tuesday that would speed up the visa process for Afghans working for the American military, or NATO, to come to the United States.

The measure was passed with 366-46 votes and will now go into the Senate.

under this law Afghans working with the US military as interpreters, drivers, and other positions. You will no longer need to undergo a medical examination in Afghanistan to qualify for a Special Immigrant Visa, or SIV, but will be permitted to take the exam in the United States within 30 days of arrival.

Many Afghans are forced to travel long distances to undergo medical examinations at the only clinic in Kabul. This is costly, dangerous and “deadly delayed”

; in the visa process. According to a statement presented to the law in May. Exemptions from the requirement in Afghanistan are expected to speed up the SIV process and ensure Afghans can safely get medical examinations.

The law is the first from a bipartisan set of bills aimed at simplifying the visa process under the Afghan SIV program established in 2009 and protecting Afghans and their families who are in danger of securing a visa. Faced with the threat of revenge from the Taliban, Representatives Jason Crow, D-Colo. and Brad Wenstrup, RO.H. introduced the law in May.

“We cannot let the slow bureaucracy kill the Afghans serving alongside our men and women … in battle and in war zones. Every hour counts. minutes look like hours day like week A month will save a lot of people, many lives,” Crowe said in a statement released Tuesday.

A separate bill introduced by Crow and members of the panel honored our promise earlier this month. It will increase the Afghan SIV limit by an additional 8,000 visas and remove some application requirements, including a “credible oath” that requires applicants to prove they face a threat. to work for the US government The bill is scheduled for a vote in the House of Commons as early as this week.

at the beginning of this month US Embassy The capital Kabul is locked down due to the number of Covid-19 cases. in Afghanistan soared Pushing the nation’s fragile health care system to the limit and disrupting the visa status of thousands of Afghans who have helped the US military through the conflict.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have previously expressed concerns that the backlog of more than 10,000 Afghan translators and their families will be resolved before the US military. The rest will withdraw from the war-weary country.

US Marines Standing in front of the US Embassy on December 21, 2001 in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Paula Bronstein | Getty Images

last week Pentagon said Above the midpoint in Afghanistan withdrawing troops and equipment

The US Army has taken 896 large cargo planes from the country. According to the latest data from the US Central Command.

Approximately 15,900 pieces of equipment that will not be left to the Afghan army. It has also been handed over to the Defense Logistics for Destruction. The United States has officially delivered six facilities to the Afghan Army.

Handover ceremony at Camp Anthonic from the US Army To the Afghan Defense Forces in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, May 2, 2021.

Ministry of Defense News Agency | Reuters

Biden announced in April a full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by September 11, bringing an end to America’s longest war.

Biden’s withdrawal timeline was broken with a deadline proposed last year by the Trump administration against the Taliban. according to the said agreement All foreign forces must leave Afghanistan by May 1.

The elimination of about 3,000 US service members coincides with the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, which spurred America into a long war in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff It told the Senate Armed Services Committee on June 17 that “planning is ongoing” to protect Afghans serving alongside US and NATO troops.

The country’s top military officer added that the US military can process any request as the State Department goes through a thorough visa process for eligible Afghans.

— CNBC’s Amanda Macias contributed to the reporting.

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