Only 100 out of the 28,000 Afghans who applied for temporary admission into the United States under the humanitarian parole shortly before the Taliban recaptured Afghanistan, have been approved, according to US federal officials.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services, which has been struggling to keep up with the rise in applicants, has assured to ramp up the staff to sort out the growing backlog.
Many Afghan families who settled in the US years ago say that they are frustrated with the slow pace of approvals, claiming that any further delay would threaten the safety of their loved ones, who face an uncertain future under the hard-line Islamic government because of their ties to the West.
“We’re worried for their lives,” news agency AP quoted Safi, a Massachusetts resident whose family is sponsoring 21 relatives seeking humanitarian parole.
“Sometimes, I think there will be a day when I wake up and receive a call saying that they’re no more.”
Another 38-year-old Afghan-based US resident is hoping to bring over her sister, her uncle and their families.
She told AP that the families have been in hiding and their house was destroyed in a recent bombing because her uncle had been a prominent local official before the Taliban took over.
Victoria Palmer, a USCIS spokesperson, said the agency has trained 44 additional staff to help address the application surge. As of mid-October, the agency had only six staffers detailed to the program.
Of the more than 100 approved as of July 1, some are still in Afghanistan and some have made it to third countries, she said, declining to provide details.
The program typically receives fewer than 2,000 requests annually from all nationalities, of which USCIS approves an average of about 500, according to Palmer.