Green Card for an Afghan Who Was Employed by or on Behalf of the U.S. Government
The Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009, Section 602(b) (AAPA), as amended, is a special immigrant program which authorizes the issuance of Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) to eligible Afghans who were employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) or a successor mission in Afghanistan between Oct. 7, 2001, and Dec. 31, 2023, for a minimum of 1 year and have:
- Provided faithful and valuable service to the U.S. government, ISAF or successor mission as documented in a positive letter of recommendation; and
- Experienced or are experiencing an ongoing serious threat as a consequence of employment.
On December 29, 2022, Pub. L. 117-2617 (PDF) amended the act to extend the program through Dec. 31, 2024, and to increase the total number of principal noncitizens who may receive special immigrant status to 38,500.
Effective July 20, 2022, USCIS has transitioned the responsibility to adjudicate Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) petitions filed under the AAPA special immigrant program to the Department of State.
To obtain a Green Card as an Afghan who was employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government, whether you live inside or outside the United States, you must first seek special immigrant classification by filing either Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, with USCIS or Form DS-157, Petition for Special Immigrant Classification for Afghan SIV Applicants, with the U.S. Department of State (DOS).
Effective July 20, 2022, Afghans who start the SIV application process on or after July 20, 2022, will seek classification as a special immigrant with DOS by filing Form DS-157 with the application for Chief of Mission (COM) approval. For more information, see instructions on the DOS website on Special Immigrant Visas for Afghans – Who Were Employed by/on Behalf of the U.S. Government.
Certain Afghan citizens or nationals who already started the SIV application process and received COM approval as of July 20, 2022, must still file a Form I-360 with USCIS on their own behalf, with this exception: if the COM approval letter states that your signed Form DS-157 submitted with your application for COM approval is approved as a petition and you are classified as a special immigrant under INA 203(b)(4), you do not need to file Form I-360.
When to File Form I-360 with USCIS
Afghan citizens or nationals who already started the SIV application process and received COM approval on or before July 20, 2022, must still file a Form I-360 with USCIS on their own behalf. For individuals in the United States with COM requests pending on July 20, 2022, please reference the chart below.
|If you have a||Then|
|COM pending and have a signed DS-157||Once COM and DS-157 are approved, file Form I-485|
|COM pending and have an unsigned DS-157||Once COM is approved, file Form I-360|
|COM pending and have no DS-157||Once COM is approved, file Form I-360|
|COM approved before July 20, 2022||File Form I-360|
|Form I-360 pending with USCIS||Once Form I-360 is approved, file Form I-485|
For more information, see our Form I-360 page.
If You Live Outside the United States
If we approve your Form I-360, we will forward the approved petition to the DOS for consular processing of the SIV. For more information on getting an SIV overseas, see the Consular Processing page.
If You Live Inside the United States
If we approve your Form I-360 or DOS approves your DS-157, but you did not enter the United States on this SIV, you must file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, to obtain a Green Card through adjustment of status.
Adjustment of Status Eligibility
You may be eligible to adjust status if:
- You were inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States;
- You are physically present in the United States;
- You are eligible to receive an immigrant visa because you are the beneficiary of an approved Form I-360 or Form DS-157;
- An immigrant visa number is immediately available to you at the time you file your application. (This occurs when your priority date for your immigrant category is current. For more information, visit our Visa Availability and Priority Dates page and the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin page.); and
- You are admissible to the United States for lawful permanent residence or are eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility or other form of relief.
If you entered the United States as a refugee, you cannot adjust status as an Afghan who was employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government. You must apply as a refugee. For more information, see our Green Card for a Refugee page.
If you are applying for a Green Card after you were paroled into the United States due to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, and you are an Afghan national or derivative family member (spouse or unmarried child younger than 21) with an approved Form I-360, from USCIS or an approved Form DS-157 from DOS, follow the instructions below to submit Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
Unless exempt, you are ineligible for adjustment of status if any of the bars to adjustment listed in section 245(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) apply to you.
You may be exempt from some of the bars to adjustment and eligible to adjust status even if you:
- Are now employed or have ever been employed in the United States without authorization;
- Are not in lawful immigration status on the date you file your application;
- Failed to continuously maintain your lawful status since entry into the United States; or
- Have ever violated the terms of a nonimmigrant visa after admission to the United States as a nonimmigrant.
If you are inadmissible to the United States, you cannot adjust to lawful permanent resident status. You can find the grounds of inadmissibility listed in INA 212(a).
If you apply for lawful permanent resident status as a special immigrant Afghan, these grounds of inadmissibility do not apply to you:
If you are inadmissible based on other grounds listed in INA 212(a), you may be eligible for a waiver or other form of relief. If we grant your waiver application or other form of relief, we may approve your application.
You can learn more about waivers and other forms of relief by reading the instructions for Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility, and Form I-212, Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal.
See the Checklist of Required Initial Evidence section of our Form I-485 page to see what evidence you must submit.
If you are the spouse or unmarried child under 21 years of age of a principal special immigrant Afghan national, you may apply for a Green Card as a derivative applicant. A surviving spouse or child (unmarried and under the age of 21) of a deceased principal special immigrant Afghan national may also be eligible to apply as a special immigrant self-petitioner. For more information on derivatives and eligibility for adjustment of status, please see USCIS Policy Manual Volume 7, Part A, Chapter 6, Section C, Subsection 6 - Derivatives and Part F, Chapter 10, Section C, Subsection 4 – Family Members.
If you were an unmarried child under the age of 21 years at the time the principal applicant (your parent) filed a Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, for classification as a special immigrant Afghan national, or at the time you or your surviving parent filed as a self-petitioner, but are now over the age of 21 (and remain unmarried), you may qualify for adjustment of status under the CSPA. CSPA provides a method for calculating a noncitizen’s age to see if they meet the definition of a child for adjustment of status and immigrant visa purposes.
To determine whether you are covered under CSPA for adjustment of status, subtract the number of days your parent’s petition (Form I-360) was pending from your age on the date the immigrant visa became available. The date the immigrant visa became available is the date that your parent’s petition was approved by USCIS or, if you filed as a self-petitioning child of a deceased principal special immigrant, the date your petition was approved.
To benefit from the CSPA age calculation, you must also apply for lawful permanent residence within 1 year of when the immigrant visa became available. You may satisfy this requirement by properly filing a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, among other actions.
For more information on CSPA eligibility and calculations, please see USCIS Policy Manual Volume 7, Part A, Chapter 7, Section F – Family and Employment-Based and Preference and Diversity Immigrants.
Generally, when you have a pending Form I-485, it is possible for you to apply for authorization to work in the United States and to seek advance parole (advance permission to travel and be admitted to the United States upon your return). For more information, see the Employment Authorization and Travel Documents pages.