Green Card for an Afghan Who Was Employed by or on Behalf of the U.S. Government

NOTICE ON LITIGATION MATTER: Afghan and Iraqi Allies Under Serious Threat Because of Their Faithful Service to the United States, on Their Own and on Behalf of Others Similarly Situated et al. v. Blinken et al., No. 18-cv-01388-TSC (D.D.C.) and No. 20-5251 (D.C. Cir.).

Plaintiffs (collectively a group of anonymous Afghan and Iraqi Special Immigration Visa (SIV) applicants) filed a class complaint against defendants Antony J. Blinken, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of State, et al., in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and Mandamus Act. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants have unreasonably delayed the adjudication of SIV applications submitted by certain Iraqi and Afghan nationals under the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act of 2007 (RCIA) and the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009 (AAPA). The defendants deny many of these allegations.

On Sept. 20, 2019, the district court granted in part and denied in part the plaintiffs’ preliminary injunction motion, granted the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment, in part, and declared the defendants’ delays in the processing and adjudication of the SIV applications to be unreasonable under the APA in light of AAPA § 602(b)(4) and RCIA § 1242(c)(1). On Feb. 5, 2020, the district court certified a class that consists of all people (1) who applied for an Afghan or Iraqi SIV by submitting an application for chief of mission (COM) approval and (2) whose applications have been awaiting government action for longer than nine months.

On June 14, 2020, the district court adopted a Joint Adjudication Plan that establishes a performance standard for each of the steps in the SIV application process and requires the government to submit quarterly performance reports to the court.

Class members covered by the Joint Adjudication Plan are all people who applied for an Afghan or Iraqi SIV under the AAPA, and RCIA, by submitting an application for COM approval, and whose applications have been awaiting government action for longer than nine months, as of May 21, 2020, the date of the submission of this plan. The following parameters are used to identify class members: individuals who:

  1. Submitted COM applications to the National Visa Center (NVC) before Aug. 21, 2019, and whose COM applications are pending, either on original review or on appeal, or approved;
  2. Submitted COM applications to the NVC before Aug. 21, 2019, and whose COM applications were denied after Jan. 22, 2020 [that is, whose case received date is earlier than Aug. 21, 2019, and not approved/denial date is later than Jan. 22, 2020], and therefore are still within the statutorily allotted 120-day time period for appealing the denial;
  3. Submitted Form I-360 petitions that are pending or were issued a notice of approval [that is, whose Form I-360 Filing Date is earlier than May 21, 2020]; or
  4. Are pre- or post- visa application interview [that is, who received a letter informing them that NVC has received their approved SIV petition earlier than May 21, 2020], including those refused under INA section 221(g) for administrative processing.

The defendants have appealed the merits orders in this matter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009, Section 602(b), created a new special immigrant category for Afghans who were employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Afghanistan between Oct. 7, 2001, and Dec. 31, 2022:

  • For a minimum of one year, for Chief of Mission applications received on or before Sept. 30, 2015;

OR

  • For at least two years of employment for petitioners who submit applications for Chief of Mission approval on or after Oct. 1, 2015.

You must also have experienced or be experiencing an ongoing serious threat as a consequence of your employment.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 expanded the program to include certain Afghans who were employed by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

In December 2020 and January 2021, Pub. L. 116-260 (PDF) and Pub. L. 116-283 (PDF) amended the Act to extend the program through Dec. 31, 2022. Pub. L. 116-260 amended the Act to add 4,000 additional visas.

For more information, see the USCIS Policy Manual and the Department of State’s Special Immigrant Visas for Afghans webpage.

Application Process

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 file Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant. 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 Department of State for consular processing of the special immigrant visa. For more information on getting a special immigrant visa overseas, see the Consular Processing page.

If You Live Inside the United States

If we approve your Form I-360 but you did not enter the United States on this special immigrant visa, 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 for adjustment of 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;
  • 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.

Bars to Adjustment

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.
Grounds of Inadmissibility

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.

Supporting Evidence for Principal Applicant’s Form I-485

See the Checklist of Required Initial Evidence section of our Form I-485 page to see what evidence you must submit.

Work and Travel Authorization

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.

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