State Department seeks exit from plan to expedite Afghan visa processing


The State Department is asking to be relieved of a court-ordered plan requiring it to expedite visa processing for those who have helped the US military in Afghanistan.

The petition, filed by the ministry on Tuesday, cites changing circumstances in Afghanistan in a bid to exit the 2020 deal.

“Since the Court last addressed substantive issues in this case, the Taliban have taken control of Afghanistan and the United States has suspended operations at its embassy in Kabul, making it impossible to provide visa in Afghanistan. The Taliban takeover also precipitated a humanitarian crisis that exponentially increased inquiries and submissions to respondent agencies from those attempting to flee the country,” the State Department wrote in its statement. file requesting the possibility of proposing a new plan.

The State Department has long struggled to quickly rule on what are called Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), a special class for translators and others who have helped the military.

The lengthy vetting process and the requirement to obtain approval from senior embassy officials in Afghanistan stalled processing even before deteriorating conditions resulting from the US withdrawal made quick action even more paramount.

The filing also cites delays due to COVID-19.

“The confluence of world events, process changes, and resource investments made by political branches has placed the SIV program in a significantly different posture than it did two years ago,” State wrote.

The motion sparked irritation from attorneys who filed the class action lawsuit to push the department to fast-track its SIV treatment in 2018.

“Faced with continued mismanagement and persistent delays, and at a time of diminishing public attention, the Biden administration is trying to evade its court-ordered obligations to expeditiously process the claims of thousands of Afghan claimants. and Iraqis from the SIV who are still awaiting their safe passage to the United States,” Katie Austin, an attorney with the International Refugee Assistance Project, said in a statement.

The State Department said in its filing that it could not keep pace with the spike in SIV requests that landed as the U.S. withdrawal approached.

It received 352,476 SIV-related requests in August and September of last year alone, “more than it received in nearly six years, from March 2015 to December 2020”.

The department boasts of fast processing times, pointing out that it has “already reduced the total average processing time for an Afghan SIV request to 587 days in the last quarter of the fiscal year.”


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