As the Afghan government and military fell to the Taliban after U.S. troops were withdrawn from Afghanistan, the U.S. hastily evacuated American citizens and 76,000 Afghans who had helped the U.S. in its 20-year war against the Taliban.

It is a year later now, and most of the Afghan evacuees still have temporary immigration status, which means that they may be subject to removal when their status expires. This isn’t right. We should be taking better care of them.

It is more than just an obligation to people who put themselves in peril to help the United States.

According to Margaret D. Stock, a retired military officer, “Correcting for this inaction is a matter of national security — in future conflicts, why would anyone risk their lives by serving alongside our soldiers or providing critical translation services if the U.S. can’t keep our promises to them when we depart?”

It wouldn’t be taking this long to meet the needs of the Afghans if our immigration system weren’t overwhelmed to the point of being dysfunctional.


The evacuees who did not have entry documents had to request humanitarian parole, which permits undocumented migrants to be admitted to the United States temporarily for urgent humanitarian or significant public benefit reasons.

Approximately 70,192 of them were paroled into the United States between July 30, 2021, and Nov. 15, 2021.

Permanent status

Congress has enacted a series of legislative provisions which enable certain Afghan nationals to become lawful permanent residents (LPRs) on the basis of a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV).

Section 1059 of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2006, authorizes giving SIVs to Afghans who worked with the U.S. Armed Forces or under Chief of Mission (COM) authority as a translator or an interpreter for at least a year.

To be eligible for this special immigrant classification, the principal applicant must obtain a favorable written recommendation from the COM or a general or flag officer in the relevant Armed Forces unit.

Afghans who were employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government or the International security Assistance Force in Afghanistan may be eligible for SIV status under section 602(b) of the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009.


As of July 18, 2022, there were 74,274 principal applicants in the SIV pipeline. This number does not include spouses and children. And the applications have to be processed by USCIS, which is experiencing a backlog crisis.


Published originally on The Hill.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an Executive Branch Immigration Law Expert for three years. He subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years. Follow him at