State Dept. won't say what happens to Afghan evacuees who fail ‘rigorous’ vetting process

State Department says it has 'surged' resources to process Afgan visas

The State Department on Thursday refused to clarify what happens to Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants evacuated from Afghanistan who fail the "rigorous" vetting process.

"Before anyone who is evacuated from Afghanistan comes to this country, they undergo a rigorous vet," State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters. "Unless and until they complete that vet they will not be in a position to come to the U.S."

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But when pressed by reporters as to what happens to those who do not pass the vetting process, the State Department spokesman said he would not "detail publicly" what happens in those situations – including whether they could face being sent back to the now Taliban-controlled country. 

The Biden administration has repeatedly said it will honor its commitment to Afghans who worked with U.S. or coalition forces during the 20-year war in Afghanistan by admitting them to the U.S. through the SIV program. 

Price said the visa vetting should be a quick process because the administration has "surged" resources to address the tens of thousands seeking entry into the United States. 

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The State Department has reportedly set up "adequate facilities" for Afghan visa applicants to be housed in while their vetting process is completed. 

Roughly 31,000 Americans and Afghans have arrived from Afghanistan following the collapse of the nation over two weeks ago.

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The spokesman said that of the more than 30,000 arrivals, 77 percent are considered at-risk Afghans, which includes SIV holders and applicants. 

"I think the fact that we will have evacuated tens of thousands of at-risk Afghans -- the vast majority of the 124,000 individuals will fall into this category -- I think speaks to our ability to keep our commitment to the individuals who have worked with us," Price said. "That commitment didn’t end on Aug. 31, it didn’t end yesterday, it will continue into the future.