By Nathan Morley
US lawmakers have voted to expand a visa programme for Afghans facing retribution for helping American troops and diplomats during the two-decade war in Afghanistan.
With the US military in the final phases of pulling out from Afghanistan, the new administration had been under considerable pressure to protect their Afghan allies.
By a vote of 407-16, lawmakers expanded the number of available special visas for Afghans to 19,000 from 11,000. This move will now allow more people to relocate to the USA as the new Biden administration continues an evacuation programme.
This new system also allows any Afghan who helped the United States to be able to apply for a visa.
Each applicant is allowed to include up to four family members.
With the pullout of Western troops, the country is facing an increasingly fragile security situation. Earlier this week, several rockets shot at Afghanistan's Presidential Palace in Kabul, but failed to hit the target.
It was the first rocket attack on Kabul since the Taliban launched a series of offensives to coincide with the final drawdown of foreign troops which is scheduled to be complete by the end of next month.