Former Afghan Air Force pilot Niloofar Rahmani has been granted asylum in the United States after a tense 16-month wait for the Trump administration to make a decision on her case.
Rahmani, 26, joined the Afghan Air Force in 2012 and became the first female fixed-wing pilot in a country.
While attending a training course in the US in 2016, she applied for asylum, citing death threats against her and her family.
“We’re very thrilled this has happened,” Kimberley Motley, Rahmani’s lawyer told ABC.
“Because of the changes in immigration in the US and, frankly, a lot less people are being granted asylum in the US than back under the Obama Administration — so it has been very stressful for her.”
Rahmani heard the good news on Monday – the same day that two suicide bombers detonated explosives in Kabul, killing 29 people – including nine journalists.
“She is always concerned about her family. She just wants to make sure her family remains to be safe because they are in Afghanistan but overall she is happy she has been granted asylum,” Motley said.
After being unable to find work while awaiting her asylum application, Rahmani is now looking forward to getting a job flying in the US, according to Motley.
“She is focused on her dream — she is a young lady, very intelligent, very motivated and very ambitious and so she is going to try to continue her dream of being a pilot,” Motley told ABC.
“I think she is definitely a wonderful role model to Afghan women … a wonderful role model to women around the world and frankly to pilots around the world.
“She wants to continue to encourage other Afghan women to go into the field of aviation, she wants to support her government where she can and she wants to continue to fly.
“Knowing her as I do, she will make her dreams come true,” said Motley.