The Biden administration has decided to extend the temporary work permits and protections from deportation of tens of thousands of Afghans who were brought to the U.S. after the Taliban took over their homeland. Eligible Afghans will be allowed to apply for renewal of their parole classification, which will allow them to stay and work in the U.S. legally for at least another two years. This extension decision comes as efforts in Congress to legalize Afghan evacuees have stalled.
Afghans who are eligible for parole renewal will be able to submit an online application with USCIS starting in June. Additionally, USCIS will establish at least five support centers across the country to provide assistance to Afghans with the parole renewal process, job placement, health care, and other services to help them integrate into American communities.
The Biden administration’s decision to extend the parole classification will come as a much-awaited relief to Afghans who were worried about losing their legal status in the U.S. The first group of Afghan evacuees brought to the U.S. in 2021 were set to lose their parole status in July.
The parole authority was used to admit 77,000 Afghan evacuees after they were vetted at military bases overseas, as it allowed the U.S. to admit them without going through the lengthy refugee or visa processes. However, it also meant that evacuees would face an uncertain legal future, absent intervention from Congress. Those brought to the U.S. through parole don’t have a direct path to permanent residency and are only given permission to stay in the country on a temporary basis, which is two years in the case of the Afghans.
The White House and a bipartisan group of lawmakers have tried to give evacuated Afghans a chance to become permanent residents through the Afghan Adjustment Act, but it has failed to pass without sufficient support from congressional Republicans. Congress has moved to legalize different groups brought to the U.S. under the parole authority in the past, such as Cuban exiles and refugees escaping war-torn Southeast Asia, but the prospects of passing the bill to legalize Afghan evacuees are uncertain in the current partisan environment.
This decision to extend the parole classification for Afghan evacuees comes after the Biden administration announced similar relief for over 20,000 Ukrainians whose permission to stay in the U.S. was set to expire this spring. While many Afghan evacuees are eligible for permanent status through special visas or a fast-track asylum proceeding, only a small number have been granted these benefits as of earlier this year, according to government data.