What is the Afghan Adjustment Act?

By USCRI September 20, 2022

The Afghan Adjustment Act (AAA), or “Triple A,” is a proposed piece of legislation introduced in both chambers of Congress. Its primary purpose is to provide a pathway to lawful permanent residency for tens of thousands of Afghans who have resettled in the United States since the country’s central government fell to the Taliban last summer, as well as other Afghan nationals.

What does adjustment look like in the Afghan Adjustment Act?  

If the AAA is enacted in its current form, the Department of Homeland Security will adjust the status of eligible Afghan nationals to provide them with lawful permanent resident status. Crucially, Afghans who were paroled into the U.S. on or after July 30, 2021, will be eligible for adjustment, as well as Afghans who were lawfully in the U.S. before the evacuation and Afghans whose travel to the U.S. was facilitated or coordinated by the American government. Afghans who arrive in the U.S. at a future date may also be eligible. 

The bill provides a streamlined, prioritized adjustment process for Afghan nationals who supported the U.S. mission in Afghanistan—namely special immigrant visa recipients and applicants, as well as Afghans receiving a Priority 1 or Priority 2 referral to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. Other eligible Afghans will be able to apply for and receive an adjustment of status, provided they meet admissibility and vetting requirements. 

What are the other major provisions of the current version of the bill?  

More Afghans would also be eligible for the SIV program, including those who did not directly work for the U.S. government such as members of the Afghan Air Force and the Female Tactical Teams of Afghanistan.   

DHS would also be prohibited from charging fees to eligible Afghan nationals for an adjustment of status application, a permanent resident card, or an employment authorization document. The lack of fees would prevent cost-prohibitive burdens on Afghans seeking adjustment.  

The bill would also direct the State Department to establish an office in lieu of an operational American embassy in Afghanistan. This office would issue visas, review specified applications from Afghan nationals, and do consular activities normally provided by an on-the-ground embassy. The bill would also direct the establishment of an interagency task force on Afghan ally strategy and set up reporting requirements on pending applications and the status of Afghan allies remaining in the country.  

Why is the AAA significant?  

The vast majority of Afghans who have relocated to the U.S. since late last July were admitted into the country on humanitarian parole. Parole is temporary without lasting protections for work or residency in the U.S. Afghans who left behind their homes, jobs, and families are now under a cloud of uncertainty with the prospect of their parole expiring.  

What happens next?  

The AAA has been introduced in both chambers—as S.4787 in the Senate and H.R. 8685 in the House of Representatives. Advocates are encouraging passage of this bill as soon as possible, due to Afghanistan’s ongoing humanitarian crises and the uncertainty that Afghan nationals are facing in the United States. Afghan clients are still encouraged to continue their applications for SIVs, asylum protection, or other remedies, regardless of the status or progress on the AAA in Congress. 

The bill is not a final version in the sense it may be amended during Congressional deliberations. The Afghan Adjustment Act will not be enacted until both chambers pass the bill and it is signed into law by President Biden. Specific process questions or issues may not be resolved or delineated until government agencies receive guidance on how to implement the bill’s provisions, which would not happen until after the bill’s passage.  

What can I do to support the AAA?  

AAA proponents are recruiting a diverse list of refugee advocates, veteran’s organizations, faith-based groups, and others to lobby their members of Congress for the passage of the bill into law.  To learn  more, please contact us at uscri@uscridc.org


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