Evacuees and U.S. citizens can now apply to reunite with family members still in Afghanistan

Afghan refugees will now be able to apply to reunite with family members still in Afghanistan, under a new process announced by the Biden administration. The State Department last week rolled out a family reunification landing page that allows eligible Afghans, as well as U.S. citizens and permanent residents, to apply to begin the process of reuniting with immediate family members. CNN reports that the tool opens up a pathway to reunification for tens of thousands who were very quickly—and at times chaotically—evacuated to the U.S. following the fall of Afghanistan in 2021. “Until now, these Afghans in the US did not have a legal way to bring their family members into the country to join them.” RELATED STORY: Grassley 'helped torpedo' proposal including Afghan allies bill in omnibus, angered advocates say Campaign Action Notably, the State Department’s process doesn’t exclude the many Afghans who are in the U.S. and hold temporary protections. Under the State Department’s guidelines, Afghans who arrived through humanitarian parole may apply for reunification with a spouse and children under 21, who would then enter as refugees. Afghans holding Temporary Protected Status may also apply for reunification with a spouse and children under 21. Guidelines are more generous for U.S. citizens and permanent residents seeking reunification. Permanent residents may also apply to reunite with unmarried adult children, while U.S. citizens may apply for parents as well. “U.S. citizens may also petition for their siblings and unmarried adult children, who may immigrate once a visa is available,” the landing page said. “Although the United States has been able to successfully reunify some families, others remain separated, and continue to experience hardship and challenges,” the State Department said in its announcement. “The United States has an enduring commitment to the people of Afghanistan and is committed to providing individuals seeking to reunite with their family members with the information and tools they need,” the statement continued. But what’s up in the air is the manner of reunification. While the State Department’s landing page read, “some [emphasis by State Department] family members may be eligible for assistance from the U.S. Government to depart Afghanistan,” there’s the question of how to be physically moved from the country. Qatar last fall suspended evacuation flights as the World Cup approached, adding to the “already massive backlog” of vulnerable people waiting to leave, NBC News reported. CNN says these flights have again resumed, but Taliban forces could very well intervene. Still, advocates and families bruised by Republicans’ recent torpedoing of permanent relief for Afghan evacuees approved of the Biden administration’s effort, and encouraged eligible people to apply. “This impacts every Afghan the US brought here under parole status who still has family in Afghanistan eligible for reunification,” #AfghanEvac founder Shawn VanDiver told CNN. “It took longer to get this done than anyone would have liked, but #AfghanEvac is proud to have worked tirelessly with the State Department to bridge the gap in the interim through our grassroots efforts.” Republicans stabbed our allies in the back, by excluding the Afghan Adjustment Act from the omnibus package passed last month. Republicans were, in fact, working to derail the proposal itself, with angered advocates noting that Chuck Grassley “raised baseless concerns about vetting, even as the bill requires Afghans to be revetted.” Inclusion in the omnibus was the most assured way of protecting our allies from deportation, but Grassley helped tank that. RELATED STORIES: Biden admin designates Afghanistan for TPS, shielding thousands from deportation Advocates applaud reopening of program that allows Central American kids to rejoin parents in U.S. Biden admin expands family reunification effort as advocates continue to push for permanent relief

Evacuees and U.S. citizens can now apply to reunite with family members still in Afghanistan

Afghan refugees will now be able to apply to reunite with family members still in Afghanistan, under a new process announced by the Biden administration. The State Department last week rolled out a family reunification landing page that allows eligible Afghans, as well as U.S. citizens and permanent residents, to apply to begin the process of reuniting with immediate family members.

CNN reports that the tool opens up a pathway to reunification for tens of thousands who were very quickly—and at times chaotically—evacuated to the U.S. following the fall of Afghanistan in 2021. “Until now, these Afghans in the US did not have a legal way to bring their family members into the country to join them.”

RELATED STORY: Grassley 'helped torpedo' proposal including Afghan allies bill in omnibus, angered advocates say Campaign Action

Notably, the State Department’s process doesn’t exclude the many Afghans who are in the U.S. and hold temporary protections. Under the State Department’s guidelines, Afghans who arrived through humanitarian parole may apply for reunification with a spouse and children under 21, who would then enter as refugees. Afghans holding Temporary Protected Status may also apply for reunification with a spouse and children under 21.

Guidelines are more generous for U.S. citizens and permanent residents seeking reunification. Permanent residents may also apply to reunite with unmarried adult children, while U.S. citizens may apply for parents as well. “U.S. citizens may also petition for their siblings and unmarried adult children, who may immigrate once a visa is available,” the landing page said.

“Although the United States has been able to successfully reunify some families, others remain separated, and continue to experience hardship and challenges,” the State Department said in its announcement. “The United States has an enduring commitment to the people of Afghanistan and is committed to providing individuals seeking to reunite with their family members with the information and tools they need,” the statement continued.

But what’s up in the air is the manner of reunification. While the State Department’s landing page read, “some [emphasis by State Department] family members may be eligible for assistance from the U.S. Government to depart Afghanistan,” there’s the question of how to be physically moved from the country. Qatar last fall suspended evacuation flights as the World Cup approached, adding to the “already massive backlog” of vulnerable people waiting to leave, NBC News reported.

CNN says these flights have again resumed, but Taliban forces could very well intervene. Still, advocates and families bruised by Republicans’ recent torpedoing of permanent relief for Afghan evacuees approved of the Biden administration’s effort, and encouraged eligible people to apply.

“This impacts every Afghan the US brought here under parole status who still has family in Afghanistan eligible for reunification,” #AfghanEvac founder Shawn VanDiver told CNN. “It took longer to get this done than anyone would have liked, but #AfghanEvac is proud to have worked tirelessly with the State Department to bridge the gap in the interim through our grassroots efforts.”

Republicans stabbed our allies in the back, by excluding the Afghan Adjustment Act from the omnibus package passed last month. Republicans were, in fact, working to derail the proposal itself, with angered advocates noting that Chuck Grassley “raised baseless concerns about vetting, even as the bill requires Afghans to be revetted.” Inclusion in the omnibus was the most assured way of protecting our allies from deportation, but Grassley helped tank that.

RELATED STORIES:

Biden admin designates Afghanistan for TPS, shielding thousands from deportation

Advocates applaud reopening of program that allows Central American kids to rejoin parents in U.S.

Biden admin expands family reunification effort as advocates continue to push for permanent relief