The Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of State has released a report entitled Evaluation of Adjustments to the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program From 2018 Through 2022. This 52-page (PDF) document is one in a series of reports by the State Department responding to multiple congressional committee requests for the OIG to review the processing of Afghan special immigrant visas (SIV). The SIV program was established in 2009 to resettle Afghans who had worked on behalf of the United States in Afghanistan and had experienced an ongoing and serious threat as a result.
This specific report responds to congressional questions on the topics of Department of State efforts to streamline the Afghan SIV process, the impact of COVID-19 on the Afghan applicant process, and the future of the Afghan SIV program.
- The COVID-19 pandemic stalled the Afghan SIV application process. During the period from March 2020 to July 2021, the interview process at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul was suspended for all but three months.
- Attempts by the State Department to streamline the Afghan SIV applicant process beginning in February of 2021 had not eliminated the significant and growing Afghan SIV applicant backlog. The State Department experienced an influx of applications after August 2021 (Kabul NEO) for which the department had inadequate staffing to process. Without additional resources the backlog will remain a significant challenge.
- The Afghan SIV program continues to face challenges. These include reliance on Taliban cooperation for SIV applicant relocation from the country to a third country for processing, lack of a strategic performance management program to resolve the backlog of Afghan SIV applicants, and vacant senior personnel positions relevant to the Afghan SIV program.
Evaluation of Adjustments to the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program From 2018 Through 2022, Department of State Office of Inspector General, August 2023, PDF, 52 pages.