In July of 2021, the Afghan Parole Program, also known as Operation Allies Refuge (OAR) or Operation Allies Welcome (OAW), was established. This program is how most Afghan asylum seekers have come to the US since the Taliban’s takeover in 2021. Parole status allows Afghans to come to the US first and apply for asylum once here. However, this status is only valid for two years, and does not lead to permanent status. Now, two years later, it means that many Afghans will soon be out of status, unless they already received other protections, such as asylum. However, most asylum applications remain pending.
On May 5, 2023, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that eligible Afghan nationals can re-parole to continue their parolee status while seeking more permanent solutions. This allows Afghan parolees to continue living and working legally in the US.
In June, USCIS announced further details on the program and the process for re-parole. We wanted to share this information for those currently in parole status or if you are simply curious about the process.
All Afghans who came to the US under the Parole Program are eligible for re-parole, considered on a case-by-case basis. This means that the status does not just automatically get extended, but they must be considered and approved for it. It is unclear what might lead to a denial, although we are confident that it should be a relatively smooth process.
Additionally, the process includes both parole renewal and work card renewal. We are unsure how long it will take for work cards to arrive once approved, as experience shows it can take quite a while. However, USCIS stated that individuals with valid parole status can use their I-94 with OAR/PAR as work authorization, if their work cards expire before the renewal. The I-94 can be used initially and they will then present a valid work card or social security number after 90 days.
For our clients, the particularly good news is that Afghans with pending asylum or green card cases do not need to file for re-parole! They will be considered automatically by USCIS. All we, and our clients, have to do is wait for a decision. As with all USCIS cases, we don’t know how long it will take to receive a decision. Right now, all we can do is patiently wait and hope for a swift process.
Afghan parolees who applied for a non-permanent status, such as TPS, will have to file for re-parole with the I-131 form. This is possible both online and via mail. The application portal and forms are now live and parolees are able to apply for re-parole.
We are happy that this process was put in place and seems to be relatively straightforward. Our fingers are crossed for all of our clients, both for their pending applications and for their re-parole.
If you’d like to read more about Operation Allies Welcome, you can do so here.