The American Community Survey estimates that around 3,100 Afghan immigrants live in New Jersey. As of 2023, 840,000 Afghans living in Afghanistan have applied for a program created to help them come to the United States. This visa program is for Afghans who supported the United States during the war in their home country.
War in Afghanistan
The Afghanistan War started in 2001 when the United States, allies of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Afghans against the Taliban invaded Afghanistan. The goal was to defeat the terrorist organization known as al-Qaeda.
Afghan residents who supported the United States were at risk of retaliation from al-Qaeda supporters. After the United States left the region, the Afghan supporters faced danger by remaining in Afghanistan. The U.S. Department of State responded to this threat by creating special immigrant visas for Afghans.
In 2009, the program to help immigration for at-risk Afghans became official. As of 2023, more than 840,00 Afghans have applied to the program. The U.S. Department of State cites the overwhelming number of applicants and other hurdles for the slow speed at which applications are being reviewed.
Improving the Afghan visa program
Steps are being taken to improve the time it takes to review Afghan visa applications. More staff has been hired to specifically process applications for the Afghan resettlement program. However, this doesn’t mean that everyone who applies receives a visa.
Although the Afghan visa program is a special case, several factors play a role in the time and likelihood of approval. U.S. Department of State statistics show that about 50 percent of applicants are ineligible for the visa. The Pentagon has stepped in to help speed up the verification process for information on the Afghan applications.