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Afghan people who helped the U.S. during its 20-year war in the country and remain stuck there may soon lose the opportunity to escape if the visa program reserved for them runs out of availability.

The State Deartment-run Special Immigrant Visa, or SIV, could run out of visas as early as this summer, according to a report from Military.com. Negotiations to include 20,000 more available slots are currently just one of several sticking points as Congress haggles over how to fund about half of the federal government through the rest of the fiscal year.

A group of 15 bipartisan Senators led by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., is now looking to save the program, writing a letter to Senate leadership Thursday urging lawmakers to honor promises made to Afghan allies still stuck in the country.

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“Following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover, the need to expeditiously process SIV applications and ensure that all eligible applicants have a visa has never been more urgent,” the group, which includes 10 Democrats and five Republicans, wrote. 

“There have been credible reports of hundreds of Afghans killed while waiting for the SIV application to be processed,” the senators added. “Congress must ensure that the visas are available to bring every eligible SIV applicant – including the surviving spouse in cases where our Afghan ally has already been killed – to the United States.”

The supporters of the SIV program are pushing to include 20,000 additional visas in the new government spending bill and have accused House Republicans of being a roadblock, though the Military.com report notes that House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., has recently “softened his stance” on the issue.

Soldier in Kabul

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Johnson’s office did not immediately respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment.

The SIV program was originally created in 2009 as a way to give Afghans who served alongside the U.S. military an opportunity to resettle in the United States. The program has long been plagued by slow processing times, an issue that became even more dire during the final days of the U.S. military’s involvement in Afghanistan.

PLANES-LEAVING-KABUL-AFGHANISTAN

According to the report, the State Department has made improvements to the process that have resulted in around 1,000 applications being approved per month. But that accelerated timetable has also led to the potential for the visas to run out later this year, with only about 7,000 available slots remaining.

“We are clearly going to hit this cap, and we need statutory approval to raise the cap,” a State Department spokesperson said at a news conference last week. “We have urged Congress to raise the cap and allow us to meet our obligation to those Afghans who put their lives on the line for the United States, make sure that they are not forgotten.”

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