A Path Forward for Afghan Parolees in the US
Updated: Mar 17
You have been paroled into the U.S. and received a work authorization, but what is your path forward from here?
This article was originally posted on March 7, 2022. Since then, The Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, designated Afghanistan for Temporary Protected States. Please review our blog entry on TPS Afghanistan for additional information on TPS for those in the US from Afghanistan.
Over the last several weeks, our office has received numerous calls from Afghans living in the United States because they were admitted to the US on parole. The purpose of this article is to explain what parole means for our new Afghan neighbors, and what other immigration statuses could be available to them.
Parolees may be inspected and admitted into the US for “urgent humanitarian reasons” or “significant public benefit.” INA § 212(d)(5)(A). This status allows you to apply for an Employment Authorization, but USCIS, in its sole discretion, will determine whether to grant employment authorization on a case-by-case basis. So far, we have not heard of any Afghan admitted as a parolee that has been denied a work authorization.
This information, so far, is well known, but what clients really want is how to gain some type of lawful permanent status.
Our office has been advising Afghan parolees that they currently have three options if you are inside the US, and one for those outside of the United States:
Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) - If you were employed by the US government, and can satisfy the strict regulatory requirements for the Special Immigrant Visa, you can obtain a green card for you, your spouse, and minor children. For information on the SIV, please follow this link to the State Department’s website for a detailed explanation of how the process works.
Asylum - An asylum application should be filed within one year of entering the United States. The asylum application is telling USCIS that you have a well-founded fear of returning to Afghanistan because you will be persecuted for who you are and/or what you believe. If you think you qualify, you can submit Form I-589 to USCIS, and indicate that you are an Afghan Parolee so that USCIS will expedite the processing of your application. Our office regularly files Asylum applications so we would be glad to consult with you on your case.
Family based petition - A family member who is a USC Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident could be eligible to file a family based petition that may result in a green card. The first step in the process is to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, if you are married to a US citizen, or have a child in the US that is a US Citizen and over 21 years old. There may be other types of family relationships that could enable to file Form I-130, but we recommend a consultation with our office.
Humanitarian Parole from USCIS - This status can be filed by someone inside the United States, on the parolee’s behalf, or you can file the application yourself from outside the US. The application number is Form I-131. Afghans still in Afghanistan must interview at a consulate outside of Afghanistan because the Embassy in Kabul is currently closed. There is no guarantee that USCIS will approve your application, but after applying, you can request USCIS expedite your application because of the humanitarian crisis taking place in Afghanistan. Plus, you can request a fee waiver by filing Form I-912 along with Form I-131. The filer, not the beneficiary, must prove inability to pay, or USCIS will charge you the application fee.
USCIS has also created a very helpful website for Afghans that I highly recommend you familiarize yourself with. For a discussion regarding your particular situation, please call our office to set up a free legal consultation.
Sojourner Law is a law firm dedicated to serving immigrants and refugees in Pittsburgh, PA, the greater Pittsburgh Region, and the Arlington/D.C. area through Immigration Law and Removal Defense/Asylum.
We are a husband and wife team dedicated to serving each client with excellence, honor, and client advocacy for each legal need.
Together, we are committed to serving our refugee and immigrant neighbors by providing high-quality legal representation and advocating for them on their journey towards permanent residency, family reunification, and citizenship.