ISLAMABAD – Hundreds of . Pakistan Afghan refugees facing extreme delays in US visa approvals protested in the . Pakistani capital on Sunday, as an American program to. Help move vulnerable Afghans fleeing Taliban rule stalled.
The US government’s Priority 1 and. Priority 2 refugee programs, known as P1 and P2, were intended to fast-track visas for vulnerable Afghans. Including journalists and rights activists, after the Taliban took over their homeland. Those eligible must have worked for the U.S. government, a U.S.-based media organization. Or a non-governmental organization in . Afghanistan and must be referred by a U.S.-based employer.
Applicants have been waiting in . Pakistan for over a year and a half for US officials to process their visa applications. Visa approval and resettlement delays put . Afghan applicants in a vulnerable position as they struggle with economic . Hardship and lack of access to health, education and other services in Pakistan.
Mohammad Baqir Ahmadi, who said he helped organize the protest outside Pakistan’s . National Press Club in Islamabad, said many of the. Afghans present were facing problems in extending visas while awaiting . The application process in Pakistan.
The protesters said the preliminary interviews . Required to start the visa application process were not conducte.
“We, the P1/P2 case holders, your associates and colleagues have played a vital role in . The expansion of democracy, human rights and freedom of expression. We are asking for your support and companionship in . The worst days of life right now,” read a banner held by Afghan protesters.
Hessamuddin, an Afghan waiting for his P2 case to be processed, said authorities should move . Afghan P1 and P2 applicants to a country where the necessary . Resettlement Support Centers (RSC) are open and able to conduct interviews. “They must move us to another country where RSCs are operating and process there,” he said.
Under US rules, applicants . Must first move to a third country to process their cases, which can take 14 to 18 months, and cases are processe. Through resettlement support centers.
The Taliban regained power in Afghanistan in August 2021 as US and NATO forces withdrew.