State/OIG Announces Review of the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) Program

On December 7, 2021, an un-dated announcement tweeted by @StateOIG indicates that the Office of the Inspector General for the State Department is initiating a review of the Afghan SIV Program:
The Office of Inspector General (OIG), Office of Audits, is initiating a review of the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) Program. The primary objectives of the review are to assess and describe (1) the number of SIV applications received and processed and their processing times; (2) the adjustments made to processing SIV applications between 2018 and 2021; (3) the status and resolution of recommendations made by the Department of State Office of Inspector General in its reports Quarterly Reporting on Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program Needs Improvement (AUD-MERO-20-34, June 2020) and Review of the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program (AUD-MERO-20-35, June 2020); (4) the status of SIV recipients; and (5) the totality of OIG reporting on the SIV Program in a capping report.
The review will be conducted at the Bureaus of Consular Affairs; Near Eastern Affairs; Population, Refugees, and Migration; and South and Central Asian Affairs and at selected domestic facilities and overseas posts including the Afghanistan Affairs Unit in Doha, Qatar. The review will include interviews of appropriate officials, an assessment of pertinent documents, and analyses of data.
The announcement also notes that State/OIG “will be coordinating and deconflicting with other members of the inspector general community to ensure efficiency and to leverage interagency resources in performing this important oversight work.”

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US Embassy Kabul Suspends Operations on 8/31/21; Next, the Afghanistan Affairs Unit in Qatar?

 

The US Embassy in Kabul issued a Security Message announcing its suspension of operations:
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul suspended operations on August 31, 2021.  While the U.S. government has withdrawn its personnel from Kabul, we will continue to assist U.S. citizens and their families in Afghanistan from Doha, Qatar.
After 20 years, one ‘forever’ war finally ended and one of the largest US embassies in the world just closed its doors.
We are assuming that the US Embassy Kabul will now transition to the Afghanistan Affairs Unit (AAU) operating out of the US Embassy Doha in Qatar. This is a guess given the precedence with four other remote units after the suspension of diplomatic operations in Yemen, Venezuela, Libya, and much earlier, Somalia.

— Yemen Affairs Unit (Remote Mission Site: U.S. Embassy Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)

— Venezuela Affairs Unit (Remote Mission Site: U.S. Embassy Bogota, Colombia)
— Libya External Office (Remote Mission Site: U.S. Embassy Tunis, Tunisia))
U.S. Embassy Mogadishu, Somalia (Remote Mission Site: U.S. Embassy Nairobi, Kenya) – the Department officially established Embassy Mogadishu as a permanent post in 2019. The IG says that although the  Somalia Unit no longer exists as a remote mission, some staff continue to be based at Embassy Nairobi, and Embassy Mogadishu continues to rely on Embassy Nairobi for support services.
According to the IG audit, the VAU has been open for  almost 2 years; the YAU has been open for more than 6 years; and the Libya External Office has been  open for almost 7 years. The Somalia Unit operated from U.S. Embassy Nairobi, Kenya, for more than  9 years before the Department reestablished a permanent diplomatic presence in Somalia.
The most recent OIG report we could locate for Qatar is dated 2010. At that time, the OIG describes Embassy Doha as a mid-size embassy, with a staff of 82 U.S. direct-hire person­nel, 113 foreign national staff, and 11 locally hired American personnel. No Qatari citizens are employed by the mission. Operations under chief of mission authority include representatives from the Department of Defense, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Foreign Commercial Service. Operating budgets for U.S. Gov­ernment agencies under chief of mission authority total approximately $13.7 million.  Post is likely supersized already. We just don’t know by how many. Would be interested to see what the staffing pattern is going to be like for the AAU in Doha.

From way, way back in 2015:

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