Frequently Asked Questions for Afghans Who Recently Arrived in the United States

Last updated on January 6, 2022

What is Humanitarian Parole? 

Humanitarian parole is a status for people who are fleeing their country and allowed to stay in the United States for a short period of time. This period of time allows for someone to apply for another visa (such as a special immigrant visa), asylum, or lawful permanent resident status based on a family relationship (“green card”). 

How long does Humanitarian Parole last? 

This stamp shows that someone was admitted under Humanitarian Parole until March 23, 2017. Photo from Wikipedia. 

The length of your stay under Humanitarian Parole is written on the stamp in your passport. For example, in the picture shown here, the parole is good until March 23, 2017. 

Under Operation Allies Refuge, which granted many people parole from Afghanistan, many people have parole for two years. Check your stamp to be sure how long your status lasts. 

Is Humanitarian Parole a status? 

No, humanitarian parole is not a status itself. It is just permission to enter the United States. Once you are here, you should find an immigration attorney who can talk with you about your options for permanent status in the United States. 

May I renew my Humanitarian Parole? 

Yes, you may apply to extend your humanitarian parole. You will need to file for parole again with USCIS in order to extend your period of parole. 

Am I eligible for any assistance while on Humanitarian Parole? 

Generally, people with parole are not eligible for the same benefits as people who entered as refugees or with SIV. However, because of the unique circumstances of the evacuation from Afghanistan, some people with parole from Afghanistan may be eligible for resettlement assistance. This is extremely specific to your situation (such as whether you arrived to an Army Base and when you left the base). You should speak to a refugee resettlement agency (including those on the base where you may be staying) to learn more about your specific situation. 

If you or someone you know is currently on a base, we encourage you to speak to a refugee resettlement agency staff member or volunteer before leaving a base on your own as this may impact your eligibility for benefits. 

For more assistance, contact your local refugee resettlement agency for more information. In eastern Virginia, contact Commonwealth Catholic Charities in Newport News or the International Rescue Committee in Richmond

May I work with Humanitarian Parole? 

Yes, those with humanitarian parole are eligible for work authorization. You will have to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (“work permit”). Click here for more information (in English) about how to apply for a work permit. An immigration attorney can also help you file for a work permit. 

I need to move somewhere else in the United States. Am I allowed to move? 

Yes, you are allowed to move to another apartment, city, or state while on humanitarian parole. However, you must update your address with USCIS. Click here for more information (in English) on how to update your address.  

However, before you move, check with the resettlement agency you are working with in your area to ensure that moving will not affect your work with them. 

My family is still in Afghanistan. Can I help them apply for humanitarian parole? 

Yes. More information on how to apply for parole can be found on the USCIS website (available only in English). 

Contact a local immigration attorney to discuss your options for how to help your family apply for humanitarian parole.  

Processing times for applications vary widely.

If I have Humanitarian Parole, can I apply for a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV)? 

Yes, if you worked for the United States government or military in Afghanistan for at least two (2) years and otherwise meet the eligibility and documentation requirements for SIV status. You can learn more about SIV by clicking on this link (in English only). 

Can I continue my SIV application while I am here on humanitarian parole? 

Yes, you may continue your SIV application while you are here on humanitarian parole. It is extremely important that you update your address with USCIS. 

If I have Humanitarian Parole, can I apply for asylum? 

Yes, you may apply for asylum if you have entered the U.S. on humanitarian parole. To apply for asylum, you must submit Form I-589 (in English) to USCIS. Check the USCIS website (only available in English) for more information on where to file your asylum application. The address where you send your application is different based on what state you live in. 

After you submit your asylum application, you will have an asylum interview with USCIS. Generally, asylum interviews may be scheduled very soon after you submit your application or may take many months to schedule. Congress recently changed the law to require asylum interviews for Afghans be completed within 45 days of the receipt of the asylum application. Attorneys across the country have seen that the asylum offices are working hard to schedule people quickly because of this new rule.

As a general rule, you must apply for asylum within one year of arriving in the United States. If it has been more than one year since you arrived in the United States, contact an immigration lawyer as soon as possible to talk about your options. 

Click here to see our asylum resources available in English, Spanish, Mandarin and Amharic (more languages coming soon). 

Do I Have to Have a Lawyer to Apply for Asylum?

You are not required to have a lawyer in order to apply for asylum. However, asylum law is very complex and a lawyer can help you navigate this difficult process, including gathering supporting evidence and preparing your statement. Consult with a lawyer before applying for asylum to understand all of your options.

If you live in or near the Hampton Roads region of Virginia, contact the William & Mary Law School Immigration Clinic to see if we can assist you in your case. 

How Do I Find a Lawyer to Help Me? 

Finding an immigration lawyer is very important. Immigration lawyers can help make sure you do not miss any deadlines and that all of the information and paperwork you file is correct. If you cannot afford an attorney, click on this link (only available in English) to find a list of nonprofit organizations that may be able to help you. 

If you live in or near the Hampton Roads region of Virginia, contact the William & Mary Law School Immigration Clinic to see if we can assist you in your case.