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H.R. 4736: Improving Access for Afghan Refugees Act

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Jul 28, 2021.

Improving Access for Afghan Refugees Act

This bill requires the Department of State to provide priority refugee status to eligible habitual residents of Afghanistan.

To be eligible for such priority status, a habitual resident of Afghanistan must also be a national of Afghanistan or stateless. Such an individual shall receive priority refugee status if the individual (1) has suffered persecution or has a well-founded fear of persecution and worked in a specified field that makes the individual a target of persecution on account of race, religion, or other characteristics; (2) was employed for at least one year in Afghanistan by U.S.-based media or nongovernmental entities or an entity that received a contract or grant from the U.S. government; or (3) is the beneficiary of a visa petition sponsored by a relative who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

The State Department may also provide priority status to other groups of individuals who are nationals and residents of Afghanistan.

Certain annual numerical limits on refugee admissions shall not apply to individuals who receive priority status under this bill.

For refugee applications under this bill, the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security shall ensure that all steps in the approval process in the U.S. government's control are completed within six months of an application's submission, with exceptions for cases that need more time to address national security concerns.