Articles Posted in Afghanistan

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This week in immigration news, we share new developments for Afghan nationals. The Biden administration recently announced its plan to launch a new portal that would facilitate the reunification of Afghans immigrants with their family members.


What is it all about?


The U.S. Department of State run portal would provide a place for Afghans in the United States to search for family members who were separated from them following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan last year.

Previously, Afghans needed the help of nonprofit groups such as the United National Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and U.S. Department of State liaisons to help them locate family members left behind. Individuals were required to complete lengthy questionnaires, provide information, and submit documentation that would be independently verified by state department liaisons.

Now, the state-run portal will provide a central location where users can upload information to help locate their family members. Users will be able to enter their own status on the website, and complete forms to enable their relative to gain entry to the United States.

Additionally, the Biden administration is said to be considering waiving the $535 government filing fee associated the filing of Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, which allows a U.S. citizen to petition the entry of their relative to the United States.

According to a Department of State spokesperson, through the resettlement effort known as Operation Allies Welcome, immediate family members of Afghans who relocated to the United States are strongly being considered for parole. Immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens, lawful permanent residents, formerly locally employed staff members of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, and certain Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants are also being prioritized to receive parole.

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We are excited to share some very important news for Afghan nationals. On June 14, 2022, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced new discretionary powers providing relief to certain Afghan nationals, who do not pose national or public safety risks to the United States.

The Secretary of Homeland Security and Secretary of State, have carved out 3 new exemptions which can be applied for on a case-by-case basis, to ensure individuals who would otherwise be eligible for the benefit or protection they are seeking are not automatically denied.

According to the announcement, Afghan nationals will be eligible only if they have undergone rigorous screening and vetting and are individually determined to not pose a risk to national security or public safety. The announcement further states that the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, under both Republican and Democratic administrations, have exercised their exemption authority over 30 times previously, thus ensuring deserving individuals are not inadvertently subject to terrorism-related bars to admission and are eligible for protection in the United States. These new exemptions are expected to welcome thousands more Afghan nationals in the coming months.


Who may apply under these new exemptions?


There are three categories of applicants who may qualify for immigration benefits under these new exemptions. They are as follows:

  1. Afghans who supported U.S. military interests, specifically Afghan allies who fought or otherwise supported those who fought in the resistance movement against the Taliban and Afghans who took part in the conflict against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
    • This could include individuals who fought alongside, or with assistance from, U.S. government entities, the United Nations, or the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), or successor Force. It also includes individuals who supported U.S. interests and participated in the resistance movement to the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan between December 24, 1979 and April 28, 1992.
    • This exemption specifically does not include individuals who targeted non-combatants or U.S. interests, committed certain types of human rights abuses or violations, or acted on behalf of a designated terrorist organization.
  2. Individuals employed as civil servants in Afghanistan at any time from September 27, 1996 to December 22, 2001 or after August 15, 2021.
    • This could include teachers, professors, postal workers, doctors, and engineers, among others. Some civil servants held these positions prior to the Taliban announcing their so-called “interim government” and continued in their roles due to pressure, intimidation, or other hardship. In other instances, individuals used their positions to mitigate the repressive actions of the Taliban, often at great personal risk.

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In this blog post, we close out the week with some important information for Afghani nationals seeking to apply for Temporary Protected Status under the TPS designation for Afghanistan. On Thursday, June 16, 2022, from 2 to 3 pm (ET) USCIS will be hosting a public engagement session discussing the TPS requirements for Afghanistan and answering your questions.


What will be discussed?


On March 16, 2022, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced the designation of TPS for Afghanistan for 18 months. This designation of TPS for Afghanistan allows nationals of Afghanistan and individuals having no nationality who last habitually resided in Afghanistan, who have continuously resided in the U.S. since March 15, 2022, to file initial applications for TPS.

The USCIS public engagement session will provide a general overview of the designation of TPS for Afghanistan and following the information session a question-and-answer session will take place.

While USCIS cannot answer case-specific questions, general questions about eligibility can be asked during the information session.


When will the session take place?


Thursday June 16, 2022, from 2-3 pm ET.


How can you register?


To register visit the registration page here.

  • You will be asked to sign up for updates or to access subscriber preferences, please enter your email address and select “Submit”
  • Select “Subscriber Preferences”
  • Select the “Questions” tab
  • Complete the questions and select “Submit.”

Once your registration is processed, you will receive a confirmation email with the details.

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Happy Friday! We close the week with an important new update for nationals of Afghanistan. USCIS has announced the registration process for the Temporary Protected Status program for Afghanistan.

Today, May 20, 2022, a notice was published in the Federal Register confirming the Secretary of Homeland Security’s designation of Afghanistan for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for an 18-month period.


Afghanistan’s TPS Registration Period Begins today, Friday May 20th  


Beginning today Friday, May 20, 2022, through November 20, 2023, eligible Afghan nationals (and individuals having no nationality who last habitually resided in Afghanistan) can begin the registration process to receive Temporary Protected Status in the United States.


Who can apply?


To be eligible for TPS under the Afghan designation, individuals must demonstrate continuous residence in the United States since March 15, 2022, and continuous physical presence in the United States since May 20, 2022.

As a reminder, TPS applicants must meet all eligibility requirements and undergo security and background checks to gain approval.

USCIS estimates that with this new designation, approximately 72,500 Afghans currently residing in the United States will be able to benefit from the new Temporary Protected Status designation. Afghans who arrived in the United States after March 15, 2022, are ineligible for TPS benefits. Afghan nationals currently not residing in the United States are also ineligible to receive benefits.

Afghan TPS applicants may e-file their applications for TPS under the Afghanistan designation by using Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status, during the 18-month initial registration period that runs from Friday, May 20, 2022, through November 20, 2023. Applicants may also request an Employment Authorization Document by e-filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with the Form I-821.


Who is not eligible for TPS?


You may NOT be eligible for TPS or to maintain your existing TPS if you:

  • Have been convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States;
  • Are found inadmissible as an immigrant under applicable grounds in INA section 212(a), including non-waivable criminal and security-related grounds;
  • Are subject to any of the mandatory bars to asylum. These include, but are not limited to, participating in the persecution of another individual or engaging in or inciting terrorist activity;

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The ongoing turmoil in Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Ethiopia has prompted the U.S. Department of State to issue new guidance regarding the possibility of filing a Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative at U.S. Embassies and Consulates overseas for Afghan, Ethiopian, and Ukrainian immediate relatives fleeing conflict zones.

DOS has clarified that U.S. Citizens who are physically present with their Afghan, Ethiopian, or Ukrainian, immediate family members overseas, who have not yet filed the Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), may do so by filing the application locally at their nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate that processes immigrant visas.

Only U.S. Citizens impacted by the large-scale disruptive events in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and Ukraine, are allowed to locally file Form I-130 at U.S. Embassies or Consulates overseas. It is required that the U.S. Citizen be physically present in the country where they wish to file their petition.


Who can you petition for with Local Filing?


DOS has stated that U.S. Citizens may locally file Form I-130 on behalf of their spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents, provided their relative fled:

  • Afghanistan after August 2, 2021
  • Ethiopia after November 1, 2020 or
  • Ukraine after February 1, 2022

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