LEGAL RESOURCES FOR AFGHANS
This page will be updated with community resources, instructional videos, documents translated to Dari and Pashto, and other updates for Afghan clients. For complete information from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), visit Information for Afghan Nationals.
Last updated 03/01/2023.
ON THIS PAGE
Scroll through the titles below to view recent announcements. Click any headline to read more.
“If you are a national of Afghanistan (or if you have no nationality and last habitually resided in Afghanistan) and are in the U.S. now and you do not have permanent immigration status here, you may be able to apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which would allow you to live and work legally in the U.S. for as long as Afghanistan is designated a TPS country.” – The Legal Aid Society, Immigration Law Unit
For more information, click on the links below.
(English) (Pashto پښتو) (Dari درى)
(Pashto پښتو) (Dari درى)
More and more Afghans are entering the US as asylum seekers at the southern border with Mexico. Those Afghans who enter the US in this way are not given parole status and are given a date to appear at Immigration Court to make a case for asylum.
IILA is receiving an increasing number of inquiries about helping these Afghans, so it is important to clarify how IILA is able to assist:
1 ) Legal Assistance: For the time being, IILA’s Immigration Legal Services Department is not able to accept these Adult Removal Defense cases. Once we are able to accept new cases, we will provide an update on this page. For now, please seek out other nonprofit legal service providers for help. A list of providers is available here: https://www.iilosangeles.org/legal-services-providers/
If an Afghan in this situation is unable to find legal assistance before they have to appear in Immigration Court, there is no reason to panic. They can ask the judge for a continuance to find legal representation. The judge will give them another date to appear in Immigration Court. It is absolutely essential that one always appear when scheduled for Immigration Court, otherwise there is a risk of deportation.
2) Other Assistance: Non-paroled Afghans are NOT eligible for financial or case management assistance through IILA’s USCRI funded programs or through the IILA AIRS or RFS programs. Non-paroled Afghans who are seeking non-legal assistance should email Director of Refugee Services, Hasmik Ktoian, at email@example.com. She will make an assessment whether IILA can provide any assistance. Housing will not be provided by our agency.
On January 12, 2023, the Department of State released form DS 4317, which allows Afghan Humanitarian Parolees and those later granted Temporary Protected Status to apply for reunification with eligible family members (lawful spouse and children under the age of 21 as of 8/14/2021). For more information and to apply, visit the Department of State’s Family Reunification for Afghans page.
The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 requires that all asylum applicants must apply within one-year of their last entry into the United States. However, there is an exception if the applicant can show that there are extraordinary circumstances directly related to the delay in filing.
Generally, maintaining valid status or humanitarian parole will be considered an extraordinary circumstance. If you were granted valid status or parole within one year or the date of your last arrival in the United States and you applied for asylum within a reasonable period of time of the expiration of your valid status or parole, generally this extraordinary circumstance would apply to you.
IILA and the other pro-bono attorneys aim to file within the one-year filing date but do not be alarmed if additional time is needed to prepare your asylum application. If you maintain humanitarian parole, the exception to the one-year filing date applies to you.
More information: USCIS: Obtaining Asylum in the United States
(Special thanks to HIAS and American University, Washington College of Law for creating and distributing the images above.)
NOTICE: The United States immigration system is facing system-wide backlogs and delays in processing applications. Resettlement agencies and immigration attorneys across the country are facing a significant number of pending cases and increased processing times. We strongly urge Afghan clients to consult with an immigration attorney, as well as utilize the resources on this page for their asylum application or pending SIV application.
Update on the proposed Afghan Adjustment Act: IILA is calling on Congress to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act, which would allow Afghans on humanitarian parole to adjust their status to permanent residence (green cards) without applying for asylum. We currently don’t know whether this will pass or when it may take effect. More information here.
RESOURCES FOR AFGHAN CLIENTS
Los Angeles Area
- CAIR Sacramento Valley/Central CA Afghan Community Advisory
- Immigration Services Request Intake Form
- Know Your Rights resources in Pashto and Dari
Are you an Afghan individual who has been granted humanitarian parole?
You may be eligible for cash assistance, medical assistance, employment preparation, job placement, English language training, and other services offered through the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). You may also be eligible for federal “mainstream” (non-ORR funded) benefits, such as cash assistance through Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), health insurance through Medicaid, and food assistance through Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Office of Refugee Resettlement
- Afghan Assistance Resources
- Benefits for Afghan Humanitarian Parolees (English) (Pashto) (Dari)
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
What is Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?
TPS is an immigration status granted to eligible nationals of a designated country or persons without nationality who last habitually resided in the designated country. The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in consultation with the Secretary of State is authorized to designate a foreign state for TPS based on an emergency, such as an ongoing armed conflict or environmental disaster, that temporarily prevents nationals who are in the United States from returning safely to the designated county.
TPS beneficiaries who register by the specified date are eligible to remain in the Unites States during the TPS designation period and receive protection from deportation. They may also apply for employment authorization and advance parole travel permission during their grant of TPS.
Who is eligible for TPS for Afghanistan?
To be granted TPS, an applicant must be a national of Afghanistan or a noncitizen with no nationality who last habitually resided in Afghanistan. He or she must also prove continuous residence in the United States since March 15, 2022, and continuous physical presence in the United States since May 20, 2022. Absences that are “brief, casual and innocent” do not prevent applicants from showing continuous residence or continuous physical presence. Likewise, a brief temporary trip abroad required because of an emergency or extenuating circumstances outside the applicant’s control will not break continuous residence.
The applicant must apply within the registration period that runs from May 20, 2022, through Nov. 20, 2023, unless he or she qualifies for late initial registration. An otherwise eligible individual is disqualified from TPS if he or she:
- Has been convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States;
- Is found inadmissible as an immigrant under the applicable grounds in INA § 212(a), including non-waivable criminal and security-related grounds; or
- Is subject to any of the mandatory bars to asylum found at INA § 208(b)(2)(A).
For more information:
- Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.: Frequently Asked Questions: Temporary Protected Status for Afghans (May 23, 2022)
- USCIS: Temporary Protected Status Designated Country: Afghanistan
Applying for TPS & Fee Waivers
APPLICATION TOOLKITS – Click the button below to download the presentation slides and collected/translated documents in English, Dari, and Pashto from IILA’s Afghan Legal Representation Project (ALRP). Documents include overview presentations, application instructions, and checklists for applying for TPS and fee waivers.
More information coming soon.
The Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) is an immigration program that grants permanent residence to people who aided the U.S. government abroad. If you are currently applying for Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) or awaiting Chief of Mission (COM) approval, we strongly recommend that you also apply for asylum and Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
U.S. Department of State
- July 18, 2022 – Statement by Secretaries Antony J. Blinken and Alejandro N. Mayorkas – Ongoing Efforts to Support Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Applicants
- Current Special Immigrant Visas for Afghans Program Requirements
International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP)
- For SIV Applicants: Legal Information Website:
- IRAP Afghan SIV Training, Practice Guide and Other Materials
- Special Immigrant Visas for Afghans Training Course – free comprehensive online course with samples. Short videos covering an introduction and all stages of the SIV adjustment process
The U.S. Government, through the U.S. Department of State, has initiated efforts to reunite U.S. citizens and Afghans in the United States with their family members who remain in Afghanistan. This program is a unique program created specifically for Afghans and as a result, is not fully comprehensible. The only details the U.S. Government has provided about the program is that specific family members who remain in Afghanistan may be eligible for assistance from the U.S. government to leave Afghanistan and upon approval, enter the United States. When, where, how and to whom this departure information will be communicated remain unknown.
If the U.S. Government can help your family members depart Afghanistan, they will travel to a country where they can complete the refugee process. Your family members must have a valid passport. After completing refugee processing, your family members will only be able to enter the United States upon approval by U.S. immigration officials.
You should NOT travel to Afghanistan to accompany your family members! Doing so may prejudice your pending asylum, SIV and/or green card decision in the United States. Also, the U.S. Government will not help your family members depart more quickly if you are in Afghanistan.
Click below to download the toolkit, which includes presentation slides and a fact sheet in English, Dari, and Pashto.
APPLYING FOR ASYLUM
Asylum is a form of legal protection for people who are physically present in the United States, who suffered and/or fear future persecution in their home country.
Aslyum 101 for Afghans Videos
International Institute of Los Angeles – Afghan Legal Representation Project (ALRP)
IILA clients who wish to receive services through IILA’s ALRP will need to return signed copies of the following forms, as well as a completed I-589 in Dari or Pashto or English (to the best of their ability) by May 27, 2022:
The I-589 should be initially completed in Dari or Pashto in the majority of cases so that the members of the family can review what was submitted before the Asylum Interview. Consistency between what is written on I-589 and what is said in the Asylum Interview is critical.
IILA clients who need a Dari or Pashto speaking volunteer to assist with completing the forms and the I-589 should let their case manager know so that we can match them with a volunteer.
- Consent/Waiver Form for Legal Services
- ALRP Screening Form
- Copies of I-589 and Instructions for I-589 (see below)
IILA Asylum Orientation
May 9, 2022
How to Fill Form I-589
How to Fill Form I-589
How to Install and use Webex Meeting
How to Install and use Webex Meeting
How to Create and Join Zoom meeting
How to Create and Join Zoom meeting
National Immigrant Justice Center
- Legal Resources for Afghans Seeking Asylum and Other Relief
- Form I-589, Application for Asylum:
- Instructions for Form I-589, Application for Asylum:
- Representing Afghan Nationals in Affirmative Asylum Proceedings – free comprehensive online course with samples.
HIAS/ABA – Asylum Toolkits
U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
FOR COMMUNITY MEMBERS
As the US immigration system, resettlement agencies, and immigration attorneys across the country are facing major delays and increased caseloads, IILA is launching the Afghan Legal Representation Project (ALRP) to ensure that our clients are on track to submit their asylum application.
IILA’s ALRP will work to match Afghan clients with legal professionals and non-legal volunteers to assist with their immigration-related applications. Sign up today or share this opportunity with others!
Legal Professionals & Law Students
We are looking for legal professionals and law students who are interested in providing pro bono legal assistance to Afghan evacuees, which may include asylum, Special Immigrant Visa, P1/2 refugee status, Temporary Protected Status, and other legal applications.
Non-Legal Volunteers & Dari/Pashto Translators
We are looking for volunteers who can provide assistance to Afghans applying for asylum and other legal matters. Tasks may include helping to fill out applications, translating documents in Dari/Pashto, proof-reading, delivering documents, and other non-legal tasks.
RESOURCES FOR IMMIGRATION ATTORNEYS
VECINA Training Course on SIVs
- For Pro Bono Attorneys Representing Pro Se Afghan Applicants
- ABA: Interested in Helping Afghans Apply for Asylum?
- ABA: Afghanistan Response Project
- Assisting Citizens of Afghanistan – Webinar
- Afghans and Public Charge
- Age-Out Rules for Afghan SIV Derivative Children
- Frequently Asked Questions: Form I-134
- Frequently Asked Questions: Eligibility to Adjust if Started with Consular Processing
- Guide to Client Documentation and Benefits for Afghan Parolees
- Practice Advisory: Assisting Afghan Evacuees
USCIS has posted resources on Afghanistan, including the process for Afghan nationals to apply for humanitarian parole as well as immigration relief available to those present in the United States:
- International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP): Legal Resources for Afghans
- Human Rights First: Resources on the Afghan Evacuation
- The Afghan Network for Advocacy and Resources (ANAR): Afghan Resources
- Penn State: Immigration in a Biden Administration
Listservs to join
- PALA (AfghanLegalAssist@googlegroups.com)
- AILA (firstname.lastname@example.org)
International Institute of Los Angeles is a proud member of the Welcome.US Coalition.