USCIS’s Response to the Afghanistan Conflict

USCIS’s Response to the Afghanistan Conflict

Posted by: Park Evaluations | in ,

By Dillan Wright


With the withdrawal of US forces and subsequently rapid Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, there is a present and obvious need for clarity on the part of USCIS regarding the steps Afghani residents must take in order to take refuge in the United States. We will examine USCIS’s initial response to the crisis and offer a glance at how some organizations have responded in kind.

USCIS’s Response

USCIS last updated their policies for Afghani refugees on August 26, 2021, shortly after the closure of the US embassy in Kabul. Their site offers a comprehensive breakdown of how to achieve “parole”, including steps on how to apply, directions on waiving application fees, and a list of necessary documentation that must be submitted. They also detail what steps must be taken by the candidate if they are granted parole, such as completing the form “Form DS-160, Application for a Nonimmigrant Visa”, as well as possible next steps for candidates once they arrive in the United States.

Responses to USCIS’s Policies

Some organizations, such as the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), have raised concerns over certain aspects of USCIS’s current application policies for Afghani refugees. For example, in a letter to USCIS’s director, the AILA primarily states their concerns over certain policies which are causing delays in the application process as well as over how application fees are being handled.

  • Delays
    • Some policies which the AILA specify as slowing down the application process are:
      • The mandatory use of the Dallas Lockbox
      • Requests for Birth Certificates despite the Afghan Tazkera, a document often viewed as being equal to a Birth Certificate, being submitted
      • Inflexibility regarding signatures in light of the humanitarian crisis
  • Fees
      • Currently, it is USCIS policy that each member of a family submit an application for parole and thus pay the application fee of $575.
      • Though there is a process for application fees to be waived in lieu of certain circumstance, the AILA posits that the time currently needed to process the necessary documentation for this service is too much considering the surrounding scenario.


Going Forward

There have been no further updates made by USICS since August 26, 2021. Groups like the AILA have suggested several revisions to USCIS to make this process easier on potential appliers. These would include measures such as increasing staff at the Dallas Lockbox to place an emphasis on Humanitarian Parole applications, allowing families to file as a single unit to reduce costs, and allowing family members to sign documentation on behalf of their family members who are fleeing the country.