Lawmakers push to increase visas for Afghan interpreters

| 6 December 2016, 15:18
The special Immigration program for Afghan translators expiring end of December this year is included in fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act for extension.
 
According to the State Department of the US, there are already 13,000 Afghans “at some stage” of the visa tube, and as of early October, there were only 1,632 visas left to give out.
 
The administration asked for 4,000 visas in fiscal 2017 to bring Afghans who had worked as interpreters for American troops to the U.S, but the bill includes only 1,500 visas for extension which is fewer than half of the visas for Afghan interpreters that the administration asked for.
 
The program extension in 2015 narrowed down eligibility requirements from one-year service to two-year successive service with US mission in Afghanistan. The bill narrows the eligibility for the program again giving preference to those who worked outside US bases, but authorizes the program for four more years through Dec 31, 2020.
 
Lawmakers push to increase visas for Afghan interpreters and the US Congress has typically extended the program each year by adding additional visas as part of the defense policy bill. U.S. military commanders have also advocated for the program, arguing that protection of the foreign nationals who serve in U.S. missions abroad is vital to America’s national security interests.
 
There is also uncertainty about whether President-elect Trump will continue to support the program once he is sworn in January, especially given some of his comments on the campaign trail about stopping Muslim immigrants from coming to the U.S, but a report on CNN late November highlighted how President-elect Donald Trump is sounding a different tune as he prepares to take on the mantle of the presidency. The brash businessman has already begun to step away from some of his rhetoric and promises he made during the presidential campaign