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Three Things to Know … Afghan Evacuees

The evacuation of hundreds of thousands of allies from Afghanistan has presented new obstacles to evacuees and resettlement agencies alike. Here are three things you should know about the Afghan evacuation.

1. Many Afghan allies remain in Afghanistan.

The United States military and its allies have evacuated more than 124,000 Afghans. Despite the number of those evacuated, at least 250,000 Afghan allies remain in Afghanistan. Apart from the Afghans evacuated by the United States and their allies, many Afghans are seeking refuge in neighboring countries. In Iran, Pakistan, and Tajikistan alone, there are at least 35,400 refugees. According to UNHCR, the number of Afghan refugees currently stands at more than 2.6 million worldwide. Many of these Afghans are young, undocumented and are leaving for security related reasons.

2. Eligibility for visas vary.

The abrupt departure of the United States from Afghanistan also means that many Afghan evacuees are barely initiating the visa application process. One of the visa statuses that the evacuees could be eligible for is the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV). SIV status is granted to evacuees who interpreted, translated or assisted the US military, intelligence agency, or other government agencies. Some Afghans who do not qualify for the SIV, could apply for Priority-2 visa status. However, these different statuses take time. During the waiting period, many Afghan evacuees are designated as “Humanitarian Paroles” and resettled in America. This status does not grant them the same benefits given to refugees or provide a legal path to residency.

3. The organizations leading resettlement

Currently, the State Department has contracted nine official resettlement agencies. These resettlement agencies are mandated by the US government to find housing for the Afghan evacuees and their arriving families while registering Afghan children for education. The nine resettlement agencies are: Church World Services (CWS), Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC), Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM), Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), the International Rescue Committee (IRC), US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, (LIRS), United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and World Relief Corporation (WR). In addition, there are many local resettlement organizations that provide extra supplies like food and clothing to support the Afghan evacuees.

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