Another 4,000 Afghans who worked with American forces, many of them interpreters, were allowed to move with their families to the United States given the withdrawal of US troops, State Department officials said on Wednesday.
But officials added that evacuations were only from Kabul, the capital, and any eligible Afghans in remote areas would find out on their own how to tackle the difficult and likely dangerous journey if they wanted to take advantage of the offer.
“To come on an evacuation flight, they would have to go to Kabul,” said a senior official, who requested anonymity to discuss the plan in detail, when he called reporters. “Of course we don’t have an extensive US military presence. We don’t have the opportunity to transport them. “
“If you are in the north of the country and do not feel safe in Afghanistan, you could go to a neighboring country” and complete your application process there, the official added.
The United States will also fail to provide security to applicants outside of Kabul, many of whom are directly threatened by the Taliban for cooperating with coalition forces during the war.
With the American military in the final stages of withdrawing from Afghanistan, pressure has come on the White House to protect Afghan allies and expedite the provision of special immigrant visas for them, and President Biden has promised to do so. There were approximately 20,000 applicants for the special visa program.
This month, 2,500 Afghans will be gradually sent to an army base in Fort Lee, Virginia, south of Richmond, where they will wait approximately 10 days for final processing. The next 4,000 applicants who require additional permits will travel to other countries with their families to complete the visa process before entering the U.S., the senior official said.
The officer did not specify which countries these applicants would be sent to to complete the visa process.
The House of Representatives is expected to pass a bill this week that will increase the number of State Department’s special immigrant visas and streamline the application process.