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How the US is Helping Afghans Immigrate to the US

By Ella Bergquist August 30, 2021 (Updated January 24, 2023) 3 min. read
Afghanistan immigration to USA

**July 2022 Update: The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced in July 2022 that it will delegate the processing of initial Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) classifications to the Department of State (DOS), as well as make changes to its Policy Manual that will expand the eligibility requirements for Afghan and Iraqi SIVs. The new procedure will streamline and improve efficiency by eliminating the step of filing Form I-360 with USCIS. Changes to the Policy Manual include shortening the required employment periods with the International Security Assistance Force, expanding the number of surviving relatives of SIVs who are eligible, removing time limits for converting petition types to speed the process, and generally clarifying the legal requirements surrounding providing “faithful and valuable service to the United States government.”**

The United States Government has released a response to the situation in Afghanistan and provided some information to support those who need it. Currently, the Taliban has taken over and replaced the democratic government by force. The US has created an effort to help many at-risk Afghans who are qualified special immigrants and refugees to immigrate to the US. The Taliban being in control of Afghanistan puts many of the people in Afghanistan at risk of violence. The United States has created some pathways to help those in need in Afghanistan.

Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) for Afghans

At this time the United States is prioritizing Afghans who have helped the US war efforts and their families.

Certain Afghan citizens who helped the United States during the war by serving as translators or interpreters could be qualified to move to the US permanently with their spouses and children. Afghans who worked for the US government, its contractors, or NATO can apply for a special visa if they meet certain criteria.

The smaller program for interpreters and translators is permanent, but the second group is only temporary and will end after all visas have been issued. Congress added 8,000 new visas to the larger classification in July, bringing the total number of visas to 34,500.

Special Immigrant Visa Requirements

  1. Applicants for Special Immigrant Visas must submit a variety of documents to the State Department, including letters of reference and evidence explaining their U.S. affiliation as well as the dangers they’ve faced as a result of their work.

2. Applicants must also submit an application to Citizenship and Immigration Services in the United States. They must then file further documentation for visas, including for qualified family members, after they have been granted.

3. They must next be questioned in person at a US embassy or consulate, as well as go through security and medical examinations. Their visas are then issued, and they are free to go to the United States.

How to Apply for a SIV from Afghanistan

Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) require a 14-step process between Washington D.C. and Kabul. For more information on the Special Immigration Visa Program, please visit the US government website.

Afghan Refugee Immigration to the US

Afghans evacuated from Kabul who do not qualify for special visas may still be eligible for refugee resettlement in the United States if they are waiting in third countries and fear persecution if repatriated to Afghanistan. The Biden administration introduced a new refugee category for Afghans who served for US-based news outlets and humanitarian organizations earlier this summer.

Some politicians and activists want to speed up the time-consuming application procedure for these visas so that individuals can leave before the deadline.

There are many non-profit resettlement agencies that are planning on helping these Afghan refugees find affordable housing, career training, and occupations.

If you are looking for help, particularly in the Afghanistan situation, our immigration consultants can take a look at your case. Whether you are looking to stay in the US or immigrate permanently, you can call us at +1-647-478-1621 to discuss your options.

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