"Thousands of Afghan applicants are caught in an approval process that lasts more than two years. As many as 5,000 were waiting to begin the process as of last fall. The State Department declined to comment on the number of applications submitted, the backlog or any phase of the visa approval process. Privately, some officials say the consular division has doubled resources to increase its processing ability, though that has not been publicly announced or confirmed. To kick-start the process, some American lawmakers say that as early as this month, they plan to introduce legislation to extend the timeline for visa programs in Iraq and Afghanistan and to broaden the type of family members who can come along. “The extension and reform of these programs is a matter of national security, and these programs represent an important tool for the U.S. operations in Afghanistan,” according to a March 5 letter sent to the White House and the State Department, signed by 19 members of Congress." - NYT, Apr. 15, 2013.