Afghan Parolees to Keep Access to Key Resettlement Benefits

By USCRI August 2, 2023

The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) applauds the federal government’s decision to allow thousands of Afghans in the United States to retain access to critical resettlement benefits and services.

On August 1, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) announced that eligible Afghan parolees who have filed for re-parole, asylum, or an adjustment of status before the end of their initial parole period will remain eligible for ORR benefits and services.

“This decision will provide additional peace of mind and security to Afghans as they await news of their requests for immigration relief,” USCRI President and CEO Eskinder Negash said. “We are grateful the administration acted to protect the continuity of benefits and services to Afghan parolees.”

While some Afghans have arrived in the United States over the last two years with permanent status, the majority have instead received humanitarian parole, particularly during Operation Allies Refuge and Operation Allies Welcome. Beginning in late July 2021, Afghan parolees were typically granted two years of temporary parole in the United States.

Through supplemental funding, Congress authorized specific groups of Afghan nationals to receive resettlement assistance and other benefits through ORR that are also available to refugees admitted under the country’s formal resettlement program. Under longstanding ORR policy, an unexpired term of parole is a requirement for Afghan parolees to remain eligible for these benefits—which provide critical support like employability services, English language training, and case management.

With the looming end of these two-year parole periods arriving this summer, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in June opened a new re-parole process for eligible Afghans to renew their parole.

Through the tireless work of legal service providers across the country, including the USCRI legal network and Immigration Legal Services for Afghan Arrivals, more than 12,000 re-parole applications have been filed in a matter of weeks. Thousands of other Afghans who have pending asylum or adjustment of status applications are being considered for parole extensions because of their pending legal applications.

“The launch of re-parole was welcome—but it immediately raised the question of what happened to Afghans whose parole expired while they waited for their applications to be adjudicated,” Negash said. “This timing created a lot of uncertainty, particularly when the first grants of parole began expiring in late July.”

In its August 1 announcement, ORR declared that Afghans who were eligible ORR beneficiaries and who filed a re-parole, asylum, or adjustment of status application prior to the expiration of their initial period of parole would keep their ORR eligibility—which will allow them to continue to receive existing benefits.

Crucially, this policy allows Afghan parolees to continue receiving ORR-funded immigration-related legal assistance, which has been essential for Afghans applying for temporary and permanent immigration relief, including maintaining work authorization.

“The continuity provided in this announcement is a major victory,” Negash said. “It is a testament to the dogged work of Afghans and resettlement and legal service providers demanding that the government do better given current processing times.”

“But continuity is only a concern when we deal with these temporary fixes, like re-parole,” he added. “It should be clear by now that Afghan parolees deserve a path to permanency, which remains in the form of the bipartisan Afghan Adjustment Act.”

USCRI, founded in 1911, is a non-governmental, not-for-profit international organization committed to working on behalf of refugees and immigrants and their transition to a dignified life.

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