With the ongoing instability and crisis in Afghanistan, many individuals at risk in Afghanistan are seeking to evacuate the country. Depending on the individual’s particular circumstances there may be several legal pathways to consider in trying to obtain entry to the U.S.
- Humanitarian Parole: This is temporary discretionary authorization to enter the United States and can be granted when there is a compelling emergency and an urgent humanitarian reason or significant public benefit to allowing a person to temporary enter the U.S. Anyone can file an application and request humanitarian parole for someone else. A request for humanitarian parole requires an application (Form I-131) along with a financial sponsor (Form I-134) and a filing fee of $575 per application (though fee waivers are available in limited circumstances) that is sent to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services. If the request is approved, an individual must attend an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate and pass a background check before travel documents are issued. Humanitarian parole may be used in conjunction with other available legal pathways to facilitate an individual’s entry into the U.S. where they can then pursue more long-term residence options. More information about humanitarian parole can be found here.
- Special Immigrant Visa: This visa may be available to Afghan citizens based on their service to the U.S. government. To qualify for the SIV program, individuals must be citizens of Afghanistan and have worked for at least 12 months with the U.S. government, a contractor with a contract for funding from the U.S. government, or the International Security Assistance Force. This is typically a lengthy process. A helpful FAQ on the program can be found here.
- Refugee Resettlement: Afghans living outside of Afghanistan may be referred to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) to be considered for resettlement to the U.S. Individuals cannot apply to the refugee resettlement program themselves, but must be referred to the program, generally by a UNHCR office or non-governmental organization. Afghans who worked for a U.S. government-funded program or project, U.S.-based media organization, or U.S.-based non-governmental organization may be eligible for access to USRAP. Resettlement is typically a lengthy process, and a fraction of individuals designated as refugees are actually resettled in the U.S. More information can be found at the International Refugee Assistance Project website, or the S. Department of State.
- Family-Based Immigration: Afghans who are the spouse, parent, son or daughter, or sibling of a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident may have opportunity to immigrant to the U.S. through the normal family-based immigration channels.
Determining which of these options, if any, is best for an individual’s case would require careful consideration of the particulars of the case.