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House Approves Bill To Increase Number Of Special Visas For Afghans Who Helped U.S.

Afghans demonstrate on behalf of translators who now seek special immigrant visas. (file photo)

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to allow thousands more Afghans who worked alongside Americans in the Afghanistan war to receive special visas to immigrate to the United States.

The bill would allow 8,000 of the special visas for translators and others who helped the United States and are at risk of retaliation from the Taliban as the U.S. military withdrawal enters its final weeks.

The House passed the measure 407-16 on July 22, sending it to the Senate.

The 8,000 special-immigration visas would be in addition to 26,500 that have been allocated since 2014. The bill also aims to speed up the processing of the visas.

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Representative Jason Crow (Democrat-Colorado), chief sponsor of the bill, said the additional visas would cover all potentially eligible applicants in the pipeline.

The Biden administration plans to start flying hundreds of Afghans who are furthest along in the visa process from Kabul to the United States next week, along with their immediate families, said Tracey Jacobson, director of the administration's Afghanistan task force.

They will head to Fort Lee, Virginia, for an expected seven to 10 days to complete their processing, authorities said.

The administration hopes to process 4,000 former employees and their immediate families -- people much further behind in the process -- at U.S. bases in some other country before bringing them to the United States.

About 70,000 Afghans have settled in the United States on the special visas since 2008, Jacobson said.

With reporting by AP and Reuters
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