Stay informed. With so many changes happening almost daily, it can be very overwhelming to know what to do for you and your family. RAICES is here to help.
Stay tuned for future updates. We will do our best to keep this webpage updated with the latest information.
For legal assistance, please refer to the following links:
- American Gateways: https://americangateways.org/get-help/apply-for-services/
- Catholic Charities- San Antonio: https://ccaosa.org/caritas-legal-services/
- Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid: https://www.trla.org/covid19-main
- Texas Lawyer Referral and Information Service: https://www.texasbar.com/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Lawyer_Referral_Service_LRIS_
- Immigration Advocates legal directory: https://www.immigrationadvocates.org/legaldirectory
- ADEP: https://adeprogress.org/resources/afghanistan-humanitarian-parole
- PARS equality center: https://parsequalitycenter.org/what-we-do/legal-services/afghan-support
- AILA private attorney list: https://www.ailalawyer.com
Please be aware that our offices are being inundated with requests for assistance. At this time, we are focusing our efforts on:
- Current or prior RAICES legal clients and;
- Current or prior RAICES Refugee Resettlement clients
If you are or were a RAICES client, please call your local office for legal assistance. You can find our office contact information here.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is happening right now in Afghanistan?
It is hard to understand the stress and fear being felt. The threat in Afghanistan is real. The worry can be debilitating to the families here in the United States and elsewhere in the world. That being said, there are many actions happening at one time by the military, the U.S., other governments, and various departments.
The main focus for individuals and families has been to find a way to leave the country while at the same time salvaging any immigration process that is currently pending. If you have an immigration attorney, be sure to communicate with your attorney often. If you do not have an immigration attorney, you may find one using the resources listed below to find out what legal options you and your family may have. Please be patient as we are all trying to help and may be busy helping those we have established communications with.
The U.S. has announced that it will only assist persons in Afghanistan until August 31, 2021. This means that air flights may end by that date, or sooner. The Taliban has announced that they will not allow anyone to leave the country. Roadblocks have been placed throughout the country. There are also reports of ISIS-K, an adversary of the Taliban, potentially targeting certain locations or persons.
Are there any organizations we can contact to try and get individuals or families out of Afghanistan?
There are many different organizations attempting to provide information and assist through different avenues. There are also many phone numbers and email addresses being shared. Before using any of them, make sure they are legitimate.
Here are some of those options. Beware that information changes quickly and that links or websites may not work:
- State Department channel. Email: [email protected]
- State Department’s Office of Global Women’s Issues, who have a devoted evacuation list for women and girls. Email: [email protected]
- U.S. citizen repatriation assistance.
- PARS Equality Center Afghan support intake.
- IRAP Assistance project.
- Find and contact your members of Congress.
What should I tell my family members who are trying to get out of Afghanistan?
As you speak to your family and friends in Afghanistan, make sure to walk them through the steps of a safety plan. Encourage them to:
- Identify a place where he/she/they can go to be safe, at least temporarily.
- Identify an outside person to notify about the specifics of his/her/their whereabouts.
- Identify another safe place to go if the situation at the initial place of safety changes.
- If your family member fears discovery by the Taliban, tell them to write important identifying numbers somewhere on their person. Whether on the inside of a pocket, or underneath a sleeve, it is of vital importance that some identifying information is accessible, yet not implicating. This could be a receipt number for an immigration application, for example.
What do I tell my family and friends in Afghanistan if they’re trying to get to the airport in Kabul?
- There are many persons around the airport that are trying to board an airplane. Not everyone is getting onto an airplane on the same day and many have had to return multiple times and days to attempt to get on an airplane.
- Make sure they know that the Taliban has a checkpoint about 100 meters from the gate to the airport and throughout the country.
- Tell them that we are hearing that the Taliban is confiscating phones and searching for messages in English. Phone security is a MUST.
- For those that have received communications from a United States department of approval to board an airplane, tell them to bring only one small handbag per person, be ready to hit the ground and go, and pack enough medication and/or baby supplies, small snacks, and water to last about 36 hours if possible.
What legal options does a person have while in Afghanistan?
It is important to understand that the United States is focusing on helping U.S. citizens and Legal Permanent Residents leave the country. After those priority groups, come those pending immigration applications. Because of the unorganized arrangements to help people leave Afghanistan, there are U.S. citizens and others alike that are having trouble leaving the country. It is totally possible that not everyone wanting to leave Afghanistan will be able to do so.
Historically, there have been a few legal options to gain permission to come to the United States. We describe these processes for your information here:
- Special Immigrant Visa (“SIV”): Visa for those that have worked for or on behalf of the United States government. For example, many Afghans worked as interpreters for the military for the required amount of time. These persons are in danger because they assisted the military on their missions. Click here for more information.
- Refugee programs: Several programs have been created over time to assist certain refugees. For example, P1 was a refugee program for those referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (“UNHCR”), the embassy or certain non-governmental organizations (“NGO’s”). Another example is P2, for certain groups that qualify. Regardless of the program, these programs can be difficult to qualify for and the instability in Afghanistan has caused people to flee, meaning there may be complications with the program.Click here for more information.
What will happen to Afghanis that arrive to the U.S. border?
It depends on how and where the individuals and families arrive to the United States. Those that are able to get on an evacuation flight may be paroled by CBP. Those that were able to complete any legal processes upon arrival may be able to enter with some type of legal status, ranging from SIV or resident status, refugee status, or simply as a Parolee.
Regardless, once a person is safely out of Afghanistan, it is important to understand one’s legal situation and seek legal consultation right away to try and maintain or apply for long term legal status.
What is Humanitarian Parole?
Humanitarian parole is a type of parole that grants permission for a person to enter the United States for a particular reason, or for a short amount of time. Parole can be requested for multiple reasons, such as medical or emergencies. Approval of humanitarian parole can vary, but not all are guaranteed to be approved. There are also several ways to request parole. A department of the U.S. government can request parole, as well as your Congressmember.
The U.S. government does not approve all Humanitarian Parole applications, but immigration attorneys have been trying to request Humanitarian Parole for everybody that may benefit from applying. That being said, applying for Humanitarian Parole does not guarantee a person with parole will be able to leave Afghanistan, but for many, it is worth a try.
If a person is able to leave Afghanistan, it may be possible to apply for humanitarian parole while in a third country. If a person is able to come to the United States with humanitarian parole, there may be other legal options upon arrival. Be sure to consult with an immigration attorney if you have any questions about humanitarian parole.
Be aware that each application is different and that you should consult an immigration attorney before you apply for any immigration benefit:
- Notification of Application acceptance (G-1145)
- Humanitarian parole application (Form I-131)
- Affidavit of Support (Form I-134)
- Appropriate fees or fee waiver application
- Copy of Applicant’s photo I.D. or passport. The ID can be the “Tazkira”
- Two (2) U.S. style passport photos
- Statement from the financial sponsor as to how the sponsor knows the person seeking parole and information as to why the person seeking parole needs to be permitted to enter the United States
- Any evidence as to why the person seeking parole needs to be permitted to enter the United States
- Financial sponsor’s financial documents showing the person seeking parole can be supported financially while in the United States
Beware that filing a Humanitarian Parole application does not guarantee that the application will be granted nor that the person seeking Humanitarian parole will be allowed to enter the United States
What is needed to apply for Humanitarian Parole?
Here is a basic list of what is needed to apply for Humanitarian Parole. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) provides the forms for free at their website: https://www.uscis.gov/forms/explore-my-options/humanitarian-parole
Can I file one Humanitarian Parole application for a family?
No, each individual needs a separate Humanitarian Parole application. For example, a family of 5, including children and even infants, would need 5 applications. This also means that each application needs to be occupied by the appropriate fee or a fee waiver.
How much does the Humanitarian Parole application cost?
The cost of the Humanitarian Parole application can be found at the USCIS website. The cost is $575.00 per person. For those that cannot afford the cost of the application(s), there is a fee waiver available, but beware that applying for a fee waiver may delay the process of the application.
Is there anything I can do to speed up the Humanitarian parole application process?
Normally, there is not much one can do to speed up immigration application processes, but currently, calling USCIS to expedite an application may help. There are a couple of ways to do this. One way is to call USCIS at 1-800-375-5283 if inside the United States, or 212-620-3418, if outside the United States.
A second way to seek expedited processing is to call your local Congressmember. Your local Congressmember may be able to help expedite the process.
Lastly, it is important to make sure to include any and all documents in the Humanitarian Parole application in the first place, so it is not delayed. If USCIS decides it needs more information, they will issue a Request for Further Evidence (“RFE”), which will delay the process.