© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: US President Joe Biden holds an infrastructure meeting with labor and business leaders at the White House in Washington, United States, on July 22, 2021. REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden on Friday authorized up to $ 100 million from an emergency fund to meet “unexpected and urgent” refugee needs arising from the situation in Afghanistan, including for visa applicants. Afghan immigration specials, the White House said.
Biden also authorized the release of $ 200 million in services and items from the inventories of US government agencies to meet the same needs, the White House said.
The United States is preparing to begin evacuating thousands of Afghan applicants for special immigration visas (SIVs) who risk retaliation from Taliban insurgents because they worked for the US government.
The first batch of evacuees and their families are expected to be transferred before the end of the month to Fort Lee, a US military base in Virginia, where they will await the final processing of their visa applications.
About 2,500 Afghans could be brought to the facility, about 30 miles (48 km) south of Richmond, the Pentagon said Monday.
The Biden administration is reviewing other American facilities in the United States and abroad where SIV applicants and their families could stay.
Special immigrant visas are available to Afghans who worked as translators or in other jobs for the US government after the US-led invasion in 2001.
On Thursday, the US House of Representatives passed legislation that would expand the number of SIVs that could be awarded by 8,000, covering all potentially eligible applications in the pipeline.
Some 18,000 such requests are being processed, US officials say.
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