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Biden administration expands Afghanistan refugee program after increased violence from Taliban

The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan is expected to be completed by Aug. 29.

Updated: August 2, 2021 - 5:07pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Recent surges in violence from the Taliban has prompted the White House on Monday to expand who is eligible to join the Afghanistan refugee program. Those who are deemed eligible and are granted the protection will be evacuated to a designated area in the U.S.

As the U.S. and NATO withdraws from Afghanistan, the Taliban has become even more aggressive and has taken control of key Afghanistan cities. 

Lashkar Gah, a major city in the southwest that is the capital of one of Afghanistan’s provinces, was in danger of falling to the Taliban the New York Times reported Saturday.

All U.S. troops are expected to complete the withdrawal process by Aug. 29.

Those now eligible include: Afghans who work or worked for a U.S. government-funded program in Afghanistan, or people who are current or former employees of U.S.-based media organizations on non-governmental organizations.

According to The Hill newspaper, those who worked as contractors, interpreters or translators for the U.S. and NATO military operations in Afghanistan but did not meet the minimum time requirement for a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) are now also eligible to apply.

Those who worked as contractors, interpreters or translators to assist the U.S. in Afghanistan were already eligible if they had been in the service long enough. Those who met these requirements were sent to Fort Lee in Virginia to complete the application process. Those who pass the application process are granted permanent refugee status.

An estimated 18,000 applicants and 53,000 family members are already awaiting visas. Congress approved 8,000 additional special visas in July. 

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