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Afghan girls allowed entry into U.S. for 10 days

Teenagers from the Afghanistan Robotic House a private training institute practice in Herat Afghanistan

The decision resolves a dispute that drew intense backlash from human rights activists and raised questions about whether USA agencies were retreating from previous efforts to advocate for young women in Afghanistan, where they are often denied educational opportunities. Afghanistan is not included on the list of banned countries.

The six teenage girls from Afghanistan's robotics team arrived in Kabul on Thursday afternoon to collect their visas for the U.S and said they were very grateful to everyone who had worked to get the original decision overturned.

The non-profit organising the competition celebrated the reversal in a statement on Wednesday.

"I truly believe our greatest power is the power to convene nations, to bring people together in the pursuit of a common goal and prove that our similarities greatly outweigh our differences", said First Global President Joe Sestak, a former U.S. Navy admiral and Democratic congressman.

"I am extremely grateful to the u.s. government and the department of State to be assured that the Afghanistan (...) will be able to join us and participate in this worldwide competition this year", said the president of the contest FIRST Global Challenge, the former admiral of the US Navy and now a member of Congress Joe Sestak, highlighting the arrivals also teams from Yemen, Libya and Morocco.

The State Department and Department of Homeland Security came up with several with the idea and the U.S. has opted to parole the girls. A spokesperson for the agency told the Associated Press on Wednesday that "all visa applications are adjudicated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with USA law". The DHS agreed to allow the girls to enter to the United States on temporary "parole" status, which allows them to stay briefly in the country without an official visa on the grounds that there is a public benefit to them visiting, the administration officials added.

The case received public backlash when it became public that the team's visa applications to travel to the USA for an worldwide robotics competition were denied twice.

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A senior administration official told The Associated Press that the status was granted after President Trump intervened during the Group of 20 summit in Germany last week by asking Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, to consider ways to allow them into the country.

Following the announcement, Trump's daughter Ivanka posted on her Twitter page that she was looking forward to welcoming the girls to Washington.

Competitors at this year's First Global Challenge robotics contest will be tasked with engineering projects related to providing access to clean water.

The incident led to a lot of criticism towards the United States authorities for creating more obstacles for the Afghan team who are already struggling in war-torn Afghanistan where Taliban once banned girls from even going to school.

Their coach, Roya Mahboob, said that the team was "crying all the day" when they heard the news that they had been rejected a second time for their seven-day travel visas.

The news that the team had repeatedly been denied visas spurred widespread criticism and backlash.

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