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Statutes of Liberty: U. S. announces temporary protected status for Afghans

This sponsored column is by Law Office of James Montana PLLC. All questions about it should be directed to James Montana, Esq., Doran Shemin, Esq., and Laura Lorenzo, Esq., practicing attorneys at The Law Office of James Montana PLLC, an immigration-focused law firm located in Arlington, Virginia. The legal information given here is general in nature. If you want legal advice, contact us for an appointment.

Despite taking longer than expected, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas finally designated Afghanistan for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) on March 16, 2022.

As we discussed in a recent column, the Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a country for TPS for various reasons.

In Afghanistan’s case, Secretary Mayorkas based the designation due to the ongoing armed conflict and other conditions, such as human rights abuses at the hand of the Taliban, that keep Afghan nationals from returning to Afghanistan safely.

Afghan nationals who have resided in the United States since March 15, 2022 will be eligible to receive temporary relief from removal from the United States and have the opportunity to work legally. Those who arrive after March 15 will not be eligible. TPS for Afghans will be valid for 18 months. We are still waiting on an official Federal Register notice, which outline the procedures for Afghan TPS; therefore, until that happens, no Afghan nationals should attempt to apply for TPS.

Although they will not qualify for TPS, Afghans abroad may still have opportunities to come to the United States. For example, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is still accepting applications for humanitarian parole, which allows a foreign national to come temporarily to the United States for urgent humanitarian reasons.

Importantly, because the U.S. Embassy in Kabul is closed, Afghan nationals must be able to get to a third country for humanitarian parole processing.

Upon arrival in the United States, Afghan nationals may also qualify for asylum. They should speak with a qualified immigration attorney about the strength of their asylum claim, and many local nonprofits and lawyers are assisting Afghan nationals low or pro bono.

Additionally, Afghan nationals who assisted the U.S. government may also speak with an attorney about the viability of a Special Immigrant visa or request assistance with Special Immigrant Visa applications that are already pending.

As always, we welcome comments and will reply to all that we can.

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