The Biden administration is planning to relocate a group of Afghans who have applied for special immigrant visas (SIV) to Fort Lee, a US army post in Virginia as early as this week, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
Members of Congress have been notified of this plan, according to sources familiar with the conversations.
This will be the first group of SIV applicants to be relocated from Afghanistan, as part of the Biden administration’s effort to relocate thousands of Afghan interpreters and translators who worked for the United States throughout its nearly two-decade military campaign in Afghanistan, and now have reason to fear their safety. The Biden administration is calling this effort “Operation Allies Refuge.”
It is unclear exactly how many Afghans will be flow into Fort Lee but these Afghans are far along in the extensive vetting process they have to go through in order to get visa approval, sources said. “There are 2,500 SIV applicants and their family members who have been approved through the security vetting process,” a State Department spokesperson told CNN last Friday, and a portion of those could be relocated to a military base in the US. While at the military base they would receive medical check-ups, the spokesperson said.
This is a small portion of the overall SIV applicants — about 20,000 Afghans have applied for visas. in the SIV pipeline. About half of those 20,000 are in the very preliminary stages of the process, meaning “approximately 10,000 of these applicants need to take action before the US government can begin processing their case,” the spokesperson said.
The other Afghan applicants who are further along in the process but have not been approved through the security vetting process will go to US military bases overseas or to third countries, the spokesperson said.
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