What does it mean to be an “Afghan Evacuee?”

Over the last six weeks, we’ve received many calls and emails from people eager to welcome Afghan evacuees to their states, cities, and communities.

They want to help. We get it. We want to help, too.

An Afghan family arrives at Dulles International airport in Northern Virginia. Voice of America.

We know that many of the more than 124,000 evacuees — who will eventually be resettled in 46 different states — will need immigration legal services at some point in the months and years ahead of them.

What those services will look like depends on their current status, as arriving Afghans most often fall into one of these three categories:

Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) recipients served as translators to the U.S. military.  Their visas also cover their immediate families. They will receive their green cards (Lawful Permanent Residence) when they arrive in the United States. SQ/SI parolees are individuals with pending applications for SIV status. They are also eligible for green cards.

When they become eligible, SIV recipients may seek help applying for U.S. citizenship or assistance petitioning for other family members to join them in their new home.

Refugees:  Under the new Afghan Priority 2 program, Afghan nationals who worked for the U.S. government or government contractors for less than a year in Afghanistan, who worked for U.S.-funded programs or projects, or were employed by a U.S.-based media organization or NGO, are eligible for refugee status. Their spouses and children are also covered.

As refugees, they may need assistance when they apply for their green card within the first year of arrival, when they are eligible to become U.S. citizens, or when they are able to petition for other family members to join them.

Humanitarian parolees make up the largest group of Afghan evacuees. They do not have SQ/SI or refugee status, and will—most likely—need to seek asylum in the United States. This is a long and complicated process, and very few asylum seekers succeed without the assistance of an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney.

Whatever their legal status, we are ready and able to help the Afghan evacuees as they prepare to build new lives here in the United States.


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Immigration Issues