Afghani crisis – What you need to know and what to doاین صفحه را به زبان انگلیسی مشاهده کنید
Stay informed. With so many changes happening almost daily, it can be very overwhelming to know what to do for yourself and your family. RAICES is here to help. We will do our best to keep this website updated with the latest information.
Please be aware that you may be seeking two types of assistance:
- Social security, SNAP, Medicaid
- Food and furnishings
- School enrollment, public transportation
- Help with Special Immigrant Visa (SIV)
- Residency applications
- Legal consultations
If you are needing assistance from Refugee Resettlement, please contact your case worker. If you don’t have a caseworker, check this website: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/orr/map/find-resources-and-contacts-your-state.
If you are in need of legal assistance, it is best to contact an immigration attorney or non-profit that is local to you. A few ways to find an immigration attorney or non-profit is through the following options:
Whomever you choose to call, make sure they are licensed attorneys or Accredited representative and not Notary Publics. Notary Publics are not permitted to practice law and cannot help you if something goes wrong! For more information on finding legal assistance, please refer to USCIS’s page on Finding Legal Services
RAICES is currently only offering legal assistance to current and prior RAICES legal and 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 on our locations page.
Frequently asked questions
What is the latest in the Afghanistan situation?
While evacuations have stopped by the United States, there are still reports of refugee services in nearby countries. Afghanistan families are still arriving to U.S. military bases but the methods in which they are arriving changes often. Many are arriving in the United States under Parole or with SIV visas. As far as we know, there is little to no assistance inside Afghanistan at this point. We have heard that many families are finding ways to leave Afghanistan. While dangerous, the only way to proceed with any legal process is outside Afghanistan and in a country where there exists a U.S. consulate or embassy.
Are there any organizations we can contact to try and get individuals or families out of Afghanistan?
At this time, there are no known organizations that are helping families leave Afghanistan. Most reports are that families are finding ways to leave and then seek assistance in other countries.
What should I tell my family members who are trying to get out of the country?
As you speak to your family and friends in Afghanistan, make sure to walk them through the steps of a safety plan. Encourage the them to:
Identify a place where he/she can go to be safe, at least temporarily.
Identify an outside person to notify about the specifics of his/her 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?
Going to the Kabul airport will no longer result in being able to leave Afghanistan. See answer above.
What legal options does a person have while in Afghanistan?
There are no legal options while in Afghanistan at this time. If a person currently in Afghanistan has a legal process pending or approved, that person will need to continue the process in a country that has a U.S. consulate or embassy.
What is Parole?
There are many different types of parole. Parole is a way to get permission to enter the United States for a particular reason for a short amount of time. Parole can be requested for certain reasons, such as for a medical reason or emergencies. There are several ways to request parole. A family member, department of the U.S. government or your Congressman can request parole.
What is Humanitarian Parole?
Humanitarian parole is a type of parole. The U.S. government does not approve all Humanitarian Parole applications. In fact, many Humanitarian Parole applications from Afghanistan families are being denied because documentation about the attacks and threats is required.
Another issue is that to complete Humanitarian Parole, it is required to attend a consulate interview, which is not currently possible in Afghanistan. The Humanitarian Parole application can be continued in another country that has a U.S. consulate or embassy. 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.
Here is more information about specific topics. This information can also be found at USCIS – Information for Afghans.
Afghan Parolees – Working in the United States
If you are an Afghan parolee who received the Afghan Parole Information sheet from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) upon arrival, your parole is subject to certain medical conditions. If you did not go to the government-run locations where these vaccination services are provided, you are required to report compliance with these medical conditions. You can report compliance by attesting to your compliance at this USCIS page: Afghan Parolee Vaccination Status.
For all Afghan parolees seeking to work, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must approve your Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, before you can work legally in the United States.
Who May Apply for Employment Authorization as an Afghan Parolee
You may apply for initial employment authorization based on being an Afghan parolee if:
You were paroled into the United States for urgent humanitarian reasons or reasons of significant public benefit pursuant to Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) 212(d)(5) on or after July 30, 2021.
To verify you are an Afghan parolee, check your Form I-94, passport, or other travel document, which should have an Afghan parole notation, such as “OAW” or “OAR.”
Information on applying for work authorization can be found on the USCIS website, which provides the forms for free: https://www.uscis.gov/i-765
There is no fee for Afghanistan families to apply for employment authorization and each person has to file their own application.USCIS may require that you appear for an interview or provide biometrics (fingerprints, photograph, and/or signature) at any time to verify your identity, obtain additional information, and conduct background and security checks, including a check of criminal history records maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), before making a decision on your I-765 application.
After we receive and accept your application, we will inform you in writing if you need to attend a biometric services appointment. If you do, the notice we send you will provide you the location of your local or designated USCIS Application Support Center and the date and time of your appointment. If you do not attend your biometric services appointment, USCIS may deny your application.
Once your Form I-765 is approved, your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) will be mailed to you at your address on record. You must notify USCIS within 10 days of any change in your address to ensure timely and accurate delivery of your EAD. (Notify USCIS of an address change by filing the Form AR-11, Alien’s Change of Address Card, online using the following webpage: https://egov.uscis.gov/coa/displayCOAForm.do.
Information for Afghans Relocated to the United States
USCIS is providing immigration services to Afghan nationals and their immediate family members evacuated to the United States who require additional immigration processing after entry. Afghan nationals and their families relocated to the United States are made up of distinct groups:
For Afghan nationals who entered as lawful permanent residents (including those with Special Immigrant Visas), as conditional permanent residents with Special Immigrant Visas, or who were conferred Special Immigrant status after arrival
Were admitted into the United States by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as a lawful permanent resident
We will mail your Green Card to the address on record.
Were paroled into the United States by CBP and granted Special Immigrant status. Your Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, will be stamped with the words “Special Immigrant Status (SQ/SI) Parole.”
After you complete work permit application, at a U.S. government reception center or safe haven, we will adjudicate your Form I-765 and mail your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to you at the address on record.
If you completed your residence application, while at a safe haven, we will accept your Form I-485 at the safe haven and forward it for intake and adjudication.
If you did not complete your residency application at a safe haven, we encourage you to file Form I-485 as soon as possible to apply to become a lawful permanent resident and get a Green Card. You must provide a U.S. address to file Form I-485. If your address changes, you must notify USCIS of your new address within 10 days by submitting Form AR-11, Alien’s Change of Address Card. The fastest way to submit Form AR-11 is online. You do not have to pay the filing or biometric services fees for Form I-485 if you were paroled into the United States due to the humanitarian crisis, with an approved Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, as an Afghan employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government or the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. Special filing instructions apply to those filing Form I-485 in this category.
Were admitted into the United States as a conditional lawful permanent resident with a CBP stamp admitting you as a CQ1, CQ2, or CQ3 class of admission (COA)
Upon arrival, you must complete an immigration medical examination within 30 days of admission to remove conditions on your permanent resident status.
If you still need to complete the immigration medical examination in the United States, a civil surgeon designated by USCIS must perform the examination. Once the immigration medical examination is complete, the civil surgeon annotates the results on Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record. For more information on the immigration medical examination, see Form I-693 and Finding a Medical Doctor.
If you already completed an immigration medical examination (either outside the United States or in the United States) and need to have conditions removed on your permanent resident status, you should request an in-person appointment to submit the documentation of your medical examination to the local USCIS office with jurisdiction over your place of residence by calling the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283 (TTY 800-767-1833), Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern.
At your appointment to submit the documentation of your medical examination, we will review and assess whether you may be inadmissible based on health-related grounds. If we determine you are not inadmissible based on health-related grounds, we will remove the conditions on your permanent residence. If we determine you are inadmissible based on health-related grounds, you may be eligible to obtain a waiver of inadmissibility by filing Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility. After we remove the conditions on your permanent residence, we will mail your Green Card to the address on record. If your address changes, see the Change of Address section below for more information on how to update your record with USCIS.
For Afghan nationals applying for Special Immigrant Visas
If you…. Were paroled into the United States by CBP
Refer to the conditions of your parole that you received when you entered the United States.
After you complete Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, at a U.S. government reception center or safe haven, USCIS will adjudicate your Form I-765 and mail your EAD to you at the address on record. There is no fee to file an initial Form-I-765 for Afghans paroled into the United States after July 30, 2021, due to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
Once USCIS approves your petition for classification as an Afghan Special Immigrant, you may apply for a Green Card (lawful permanent resident status) using Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. You must provide a U.S. address to file Form I-485. If your address changes, you must notify us of your new address within 10 days. You do not have to pay the filing or biometric services fees for Form I-485 if you were paroled into the United States due to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Special filing instructions apply to those filing Form I-485 in this category. Review filing instructions at the Green Card for an Afghan Who Was Employed by or on Behalf of the U.S. Government webpage: https://www.uscis.gov/green-card-for-an-afghan-employed-behalf-us-government You are not eligible to apply to adjust status unless USCIS has approved your petition.
Visit the Explore My Options webpage: https://www.uscis.gov/forms/explore-my-options to see other immigration options that may be available to you.
For Afghan nationals without any pending applications or petitions
If you…. Were paroled into the United States by CBP
Refer to the conditions of your parole that were provided to you when you entered the United States. After you complete Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, at a federally approved facility such as U.S. government reception center or military installation, we will adjudicate your Form I-765 and mail your Employment Authorization Document to you at the address on record.
If you have a family member who is eligible to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for you, you may be able to apply for a Green Card with Form I-485 at the same time as that family-based petition is filed, or while the petition is still pending with USCIS. For more information, see our Concurrent Filing of Form I-485 webpage. See also our Green Card Eligibility Categories webpage for more information on the different categories you might be eligible to immigrate under.
Visit the Explore My Options webpage, https://www.uscis.gov/forms/explore-my-options to see other immigration options that may be available to you.
Special Immigrant Visas (SIV)
The Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009, Section 602(b), created a new special immigrant category for Afghans who were employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Afghanistan between Oct. 7, 2001, and Dec. 31, 2023 for a minimum of one year. You must also have experienced or be experiencing an ongoing serious threat as a consequence of your employment.
USCIS is expediting pending SIV petitions for Afghan beneficiaries. To obtain a Green Card as an Afghan who was employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government, whether you live inside or outside the United States, you must first file Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant. For more information, see this website: https://www.uscis.gov/i-360.
If You Live outside the United States and USCIS approves your Form I-360, USCIS will forward the approved petition to the Department of State for consular processing of the special immigrant visa. For more information on getting a special immigrant visa overseas, see the Consular Processing page: https://www.uscis.gov/green-card/green-card-processes-and-procedures/consular-processing.
If you live inside the United States and USCIS approves your Form I-360 but you did not enter the United States on this special immigrant visa, you must file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, to obtain a Green Card through adjustment of status.
Individuals in the United States may apply for asylum regardless of country of nationality or current immigration status. If you have been persecuted or have a fear of future persecution because of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, you may be eligible for asylum. For more information on asylum, see the Obtaining Asylum in the United States webpage: https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/refugees-and-asylum/asylum/obtaining-asylum-in-the-united-states.
Section 13 – Residency for being a diplomat
You may be eligible to receive a Green Card under Section 13 if you are a noncitizen who entered the United States as an A-1, A-2, G-1, or G-2 nonimmigrant, you failed to maintain your A-1, A-2, G-1, or G-2 nonimmigrant status, your duties were diplomatic or semi-diplomatic, and you can demonstrate compelling reasons why you cannot return to the country represented by the government that accredited you as a diplomat, and that your adjustment of status would be in the national interest.
Other requirements are that you are a person of good moral character, you are admissible to the United States for lawful permanent residence, and your admission as a lawful permanent resident would not be contrary to the national welfare, safety, or security of the United States.
For more information on Section 13 and special filing instructions for Afghan nationals with diplomatic or semi-diplomatic status, see the Section 13 webpage: https://www.uscis.gov/green-card/green-card-eligibility/section-13-diplomat.
Change of address
If you need to change the address you have on file with USCIS, please do so by filing Form AR-11, Alien’s Change of Address Card, online using the Change of Address webpage: https://egov.uscis.gov/coa/displayCOAForm.do.
The above method of changing your address will update the address on file with USCIS for all pending applications, petitions, or requests that you include receipt numbers for on the form. Only update your address once you have established or changed your residential (home) address.
It is important to include with your address change request the receipt number for any pending cases with USCIS, so we can update the address associated with those cases. We will mail secure documents to the address on file, so it is important to include receipt numbers for all pending cases. You can find the receipt number on the receipt notice (Form I-797C) that we issued after you filed your application or petition. We send receipt notices to the address listed on the application or petition.
If you have any issues or questions about an address change request, email [email protected] NOTE: Only use this email address if you entered the U.S. under Operation Allies Welcome, or you are (or have a family member who is) an Afghan national outside the U.S. with a petition or application pending with USCIS.
U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents may petition for certain relatives to come to the United States. For more information, see the Green Card Eligibility Categories webpage: https://www.uscis.gov/green-card/green-card-eligibility-categories.
|You may be eligible to apply as a…||If you are the…|
Immediate relative of a U.S. citizen
Other relative of a U.S. citizen or relative of a lawful permanent resident under the family-based preference categories
Fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen or the fiancé(e)’s child
Widow(er) of a U.S. citizen
Widow or widower of a U.S. citizen and you were married to your U.S. citizen spouse at the time your spouse died
VAWA self-petitioner– victim of battery or extreme cruelty
How to Request a Correction to Your Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
If your EAD contains incorrect information or an incorrect photograph, you must submit to USCIS:
- The original card containing the error;
- A detailed explanation of the card error (such as incorrect name, date of birth, etc.);
- Supporting documentation of the correct information, such as, a copy of your Passport or Tazkira; and
- Your U.S. mailing address.
Send this information to:
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Attn: OAW EAD Card Corrections
P.O. Box 648004
Lee’s Summit, MO 64002
You do not have to submit a new Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization or pay a fee to request an updated card. If the error you report is that the photograph on your card is incorrect, we may send you a notice for an appointment to have a new photograph taken at a USCIS application support center.
Social Security card and number
You will need a Social Security number to get a job, collect Social Security benefits, and receive other government services. If you completed Form I-765 at a safe haven, we have given information to the Social Security Administration (SSA) so they can assign you a Social Security number and mail a Social Security card to the address on record. Most individuals who completed a Form I-765 at a safe haven have the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Washington, D.C., as their address of record. IOM is taking steps to deliver both Employment Authorization Documents and Social Security cards. If you do not request a Social Security number on your Form I-765 or you did not complete a Form I-765 at a safe haven, you can apply for a Social Security number after you receive your Employment Authorization Document from USCIS using the instructions on the SSA’s Social Security Number and Card webpage: https://www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/.
Afghan Parolee Vaccination Status and Immigration Medical Examinations
If you are an Afghan parolee who received the Afghan Parole Information sheet from CBP upon arrival, your parole is subject to certain medical conditions. If you did not complete the required vaccinations and TB testing at a U.S. government reception center or safe haven, you must receive the required testing and vaccinations elsewhere. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a list of state, local, and territorial health departments at the Health Department Directories webpage with more information on finding a vaccination location near you.
Once you have received the required testing and vaccinations, you must complete the certification at the Afghan Parolee Vaccination Status webpage. Each individual parolee must complete the attestation.
If you are an Afghan national relocated to the United States, check the table below to learn about your specific medical requirements.
If you…Were paroled into the United States under humanitarian parole and you were processed at a government-run facility, Then…
You completed your required medical screening or immigration medical examination as a condition of your parole, which was documented on either Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, or an SF-600, Chronological Record of Medical Care.
Please retain for your records a copy of your medical examination and vaccinations for future use.
If you…. Were paroled into the United States under humanitarian parole, and you did not undergo processing at a government-run facility, Then….
You must obtain the required vaccinations and TB testing that are listed on your conditions of parole.
If you need help finding a provider who can administer these requirements, visit the CDC’s Health Department Directories: https://www.cdc.gov/publichealthgateway/healthdirectories/index.html
After you have met these requirements, you must enter your attestation at the Afghan Parolee Vaccination Status webpage: https://www.uscis.gov/vaccination-status
If you…Were admitted into the United States as a conditional lawful permanent resident with a CBP stamp admitting you as a CQ1, CQ2, or CQ3 Class of Admission (COA), Then….
You must complete an immigration medical examination (on Form I-693) within 30 days of admission as a conditional permanent resident. A USCIS-designated civil surgeon must perform the examination. To find a civil surgeon near you, visit our Find a Doctor website.
If you believe you have already completed the immigration medical examination, either overseas with a panel physician as documented on the appropriate DS forms, or at a government-run facility in the United States as documented on Form I-693, you must submit proof of your immigration medical examination. Call the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283 (TTY 800-767-1833) Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern to request an in-person appointment at the local field office with jurisdiction over your place of residence.
If you… Received your complete immigration medical examination overseas, were admitted into the United States as a lawful permanent resident, and may already have your Green Card, Then…
You do not have to meet any more USCIS medical requirements. You should continue to comply with CDC guidelines and follow up with any required treatment through the health department, if you are instructed to do so.
Will polygamy marriages be a problem if I am in the United States?
Polygamy is the religious practice or historical custom of having more than one spouse at the same time. Polygamous marriages are legal under Afghan law, but they are illegal in all states in the United States. U.S. law does not recognize polygamous marriages. Individuals should not continue to practice polygamy in the United States.
Generally, we will only consider the first marriage of a polygamous marriage valid for immigration purposes. If you continue a polygamous marriage you were in before you came to the United States or begin a new polygamous marriage in the United States, we may deny your immigration application.
What is an unaccompanied minor?
An unaccompanied child is a person under the age of 18 who does not have lawful immigration status in the United States and who does not have a parent or legal guardian in the United States who can provide care and physical custody.
For more information, contact the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) Hotline for Unaccompanied Children and Sponsors: 800-203-7001, [email protected].