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US expands Afghan refugee program as Taliban violence rises

Posted at 2:38 PM, Aug 02, 2021

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is expanding efforts to help Afghan citizens flee increasing Taliban violence as the U.S. military pullout looms at the end of the month.

The State Department says it's widening the scope of Afghans eligible for refugee status in the United States to include current and former employees of U.S.-based news organizations and U.S.-funded aid and development agencies.

Current and former employees of the U.S. government who don't meet strict criteria for a special immigrant visa are also covered by the expansion.

The move comes with a major caveat: Applicants must leave Afghanistan to begin the process that may take 12-14 months in a third country.