U.S. lawmakers seek more visas for Afghans who helped U.S. forces
A group of Republican and Democratic U.S. senators introduced legislation on Wednesday that would provide an additional 2,500 visas for Afghans who have assisted U.S. forces by working as interpreters or in other support functions, often risking their lives.
The U.S. State Department said last week it would soon run out of visas for the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program, designed to help bring to the United States those who have worked for the government during the decade and a half that U.S. forces have been engaged in the country.
The U.S. embassy in Kabul has stopped scheduling interviews for applicants seeking a visa through the program.
The bill was introduced by Republican Senators John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Thom Tillis, and Democrats Jack Reed, the committee's top Democrat, and Jeanne Shaheen. Tillis and Shaheen are also members of the panel.
The four senators led efforts in the Senate to extend the Afghan SIV program last year.
"This legislation would ensure the continuation of this vital Special Immigrant Visa program, and send a clear message that America will not turn its back on those — who at great personal risk — stand with us in the fight against terror," McCain said in a statement. - Read More, Reuters