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Veterans Group Helps Afghan Translators Resettle in US

Veterans Group Helps Afghan Translators Resettle in US
Army veteran Matt Zeller, right, and Janis Shinwari, an interpreter who saved Zeller's life during a firefight with the Taliban (Tom Williams/AP)

By    |   Monday, 04 September 2017 10:08 PM

A group operated by veterans is trying to help Afghan nationals who served as translators for the United States military come to the U.S. with their families to resettle.

NBC News reported on No One Left Behind, which aims to give better lives to military translators by providing them with a life in America. Former Army Officer Matt Zeller told the network America's translators in Afghanistan are targets for Taliban fighters, so bringing them to the U.S. gets them out of harm's way.

There are, however, several roadblocks the translators face.

The process for them to obtain a visa takes years and must be approved by all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, which means every agency conducts a background investigation of each applicant.

There is also a cap of 2,500 special immigration visas (SIVs) per year despite No One Left Behind's efforts to increase that to 4,000. The result is an estimated backlog of somewhere around 50,000 applications. Still, more than 40,000 translators and their families have come to the U.S. via the SIV program, NBC noted.

A State Department official told NBC the agency is working overtime to work its way through the SIV applications.

"We have increased the resources dedicated to SIV processing, and have undertaken steps to streamline the process at every application stage," the official said. "These changes are ongoing and have already resulted in reduced wait times."

A report last year claimed the program to bring Afghan translators to the U.S. was being partially funded by making cuts to veterans' health benefits.

The New York Times reported last summer that Afghan translators are often left to live in hiding as they wait for their visa applications to be approved by U.S. authorities.

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A group operated by veterans is trying to help Afghan nationals who served as translators for the United States military come to the U.S. with their families to resettle.
afghan, translators, military, visas
286
2017-08-04
Monday, 04 September 2017 10:08 PM
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