US House passes bill to expand and expedite visa process for Afghans
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US House passes bill to expand and expedite visa process for Afghans

The US House of Representatives passed a bill dubbed the Allies Act in a 407-16 vote on Thursday to expand and expedite special visa eligibility for Afghans who served the US and coalition forces during the occupation of Afghanistan.

The US occupation of Afghanistan is coming to an end. The Taliban is seizing more territory in Afghanistan, and the Afghans who served the US may face retribution from the Taliban. Afghans who assisted the US and coalition forces are waiting for visa application approvals.

The Allies Act authorizes 8,000 additional special immigrant visas (SIVs) for Afghans, expanding special visa eligibility to families of Afghans who were killed assisting the US, as well as for individuals who work for non-governmental organizations. Moreover, the bill removes application requirements that lengthen the Afghan SIV process, including the “credible sworn statement” mandating that applicants prove they face a threat as a result of their work for the US government. The “credible sworn statement” requirement limited the number of qualified applicants.

Representative Jason Crow introduced the Allies Act. Crow stated on the House floor before the vote: “[T]he phrase life and death gets tossed around a lot in this chamber. But this bill is truly that for thousands of our Afghan friends. The Taliban is intent on hunting down and killing Afghans who have served alongside Americans the past 20 years.”

Under “Operation Allies Refuge,” the US government is working to evacuate Afghan nationals and their families. The Allies Act is part of a series of bipartisan bills aiming to ease the visa process.

The Allies Act will now go to the Senate.