The United States will relocate thousands of Afghan citizens who worked for the American government before U.S. troops exit the country in the next few months.
The plan is to relocate between 20,000 and 100,000 Afghan citizens, a senior White House official tells NPR. The White House is in the process of informing both the U.S. Congress and the Afghan government, the official said.
Most of the Afghan applicants for Special Immigrant Visas, or SIVs, are translators and interpreters. Their family members will also be relocated.
For weeks, the U.S. military has been planning on moving those who are applicants for the special visas to a third country for processing as the security situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate.
U.S. forces are expected to leave Afghanistan sometime in July, ahead of President Biden's deadline of Sept. 11. Most of the relocation flights will likely leave in August from Kabul Airport, which will be secured by Turkish troops, according to the senior White House official. It's possible the SIV applicants could be moved to the U.S. territory of Guam for processing, according to officials.
A COVID outbreak at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul has complicated the SIV process, delaying interviews for applicants for the past two weeks. The White House has been pressured by both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill to evacuate the Afghans who worked for the U.S.
President Biden told reporters on Thursday afternoon that the process has already begun.
"Those who helped us will not be left behind," he said.