Talk to a lawyer before filing any forms!
It is really important that you find an experienced immigration attorney to help you with your status in the United States. You may have been getting information and materials while you were staying on a military base, but this is no substitute for competent legal services.
Many people have been leaving Afghanistan or have fled to the United States since the recent military withdrawal and ensuing crisis. Things have been changing quickly, and as such the U.S. government has had to make changes to existing immigration policy. Here are some updates pertaining to Afghans who have recently arrived in the U.S., as well as those who may still be in the process of leaving Afghanistan.
If you are a current beneficiary of Humanitarian Parole, or arrived lawfully into the United States on Port Parole, you will still need to have a financial sponsor and fill out Form I-134.
However, this sponsor only needs to be able to financially support the beneficiary from the moment they arrive in the US, until they themselves sign up for benefits. This means that anyone who would be able to show they can support the beneficiary for 3-4 weeks is eligible to be the sponsor.
However, you should still make sure your applications for Humanitarian Parole are as strong as possible.
Humanitarian Parole Applicants
USCIS has stated they would be prioritizing Humanitarian Parole applications for Afghan Nationals who are outside of Afghanistan as the consulate in Kabul is still closed.
The form for Humanitarian Parole is called the I-131. You should complete an I-131 for each person in a family. However, if you are going to apply for a fee waiver with the form I-912, you can complete one for the whole family and mail the entire submission together. If you complete a fee waiver form, it will likely delay your application.
On the other hand, if you submit the G-1145 form for e-notification of your application with your I-131, you can receive these receipts digitally.
When USCIS receives your application, they will give you a receipt. Keep this receipt number. However, as of today, these receipts from USCIS will NOT actually help people leave Afghanistan.
Once the beneficiary is in a third country where there is a U.S. embassy or consulate, the beneficiary must email USCIS immediately at HumanitarianParole@uscis.dhs.gov with the:
At this point, processing of your application may still take several months.
If USCIS approves your application, they will coordinate with the Department of State to contact the beneficiary for biometrics. If this is approved, USCIS will then contact the beneficiary to schedule an interview at the embassy or consulate.
Again, if approved, you will need to get and submit a medical exam completed by a physician who is approved by the U.S. Immigration office. You can find information on this by country here.
If all of this is completed and approved, you will be given a boarding foil by the consulate or embassy to get on an airplane and travel to the United States. YOU must pay for all of the travel expenses.
Once you arrive in the United States, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol will then make the final determination on your parole status at the port of entry. If approved, this parole will be valid for only 2 years.
People who are granted humanitarian parole going forward, and are admitted into the United States before September 30th, 2022, will be eligible to sign up for the same benefits as current parolees.
For updates and translations from USCIS, follow their website.
Who will get benefits?
On September 30, 2021, U.S. Congress passed a continuing resolution that allows humanitarian parolees, those with pending Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applications, current SIV recipients, and refugees to be eligible for benefits and services in the U.S. All of the statuses are now being treated as the same in terms of eligibility for benefits and services, but this may change in the future. You can find more information on this here.
Regardless, you will ONLY be eligible for benefits and services for a specific length of time. This will start immediately once you leave your military base. If you wait to go through the process and get matched with a resettlement agency, they will be able to help you sign up for these benefits when you reach your final destination.
If you decide to self-resettle, you can ask a resettlement agency for help. However, they will help the people they were matched with first, and you will have to wait until they have capacity.
This means you might lose time on your benefits because the agencies will likely NOT be able to help you immediately.
Employment Authorization Documents (EAD)
If you are currently in the U.S. on Humanitarian Parole OR a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV), your Employment Authorization Documents (EAD), or Work Permits, are currently being processed at headquarters Washington D.C. They may be sent to your military base before you get resettled, OR they may be sent to your final destination/resettlement agency, depending on the timing.
Either way, you must update USCIS with your new address by filling out the AR-11, Change of Address Form on the USCIS website. You will need the receipt, or Form I-797C, from filing your Work Permit when you fill out the online request.
Applying for Asylum
How do you apply?
As of right now, applying for asylum is the only option for those who received humanitarian parole, but are NOT eligible for a Special Immigrant Visa or Family-based immigration. People in Afghanistan may be able to apply as refugees with the UNHCR and can consult the USRAP website on US resettlement for refugees.
They will have to leave Afghanistan and find the UNHCR office in another country in order to be considered for resettlement and begin that process.
For more detailed information on asylum, click here.
Last updated: 12-10-21
Immigration law is always changing. We will do our best to keep our website as up-to-date as possible, but the latest information might be more readily available at USCIS.gov. These pages were written to help you better understand your legal options, however, none of the information published by Catholic Charities Milwaukee should be considered legal advice. If you plan to open your own immigration case, hire an immigration attorney to consult you personally.