Some 36,433 Afghan refugees lack a clear path to US citizenship, according to a report released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Friday .
The report surveys the immigration status of more than 76,000 Afghans refugees now under the supervision of Operation Allies Welcome (OAW), a DHS coordinated program aimed at resettling the evacuees within the US.
OAW, initiated on August 29th, is the domestic response to Operation Allies Refuge, the military operation to help evacuate select Afghan citizens after their country fell to the Taliban in August.
Traditionally, refugees admitted to the US become eligible for permanent residency a year after resettlement. But due to the swift fall of the Afghan government, the administration of US President Joe Biden opted to bypass this often-lengthy procedure in favor of parole, a mechanism that allows for relocation and employment-eligibility for two years without a direct path to legal residency.
Of the 76,000 refugees surveyed, 3,529 are lawful US residents and another 3,290 hold Special Immigration Visas (SIV) which establish permanent residency. The DHS reports that a further 36,821 evacuees have or are expected to apply for an SIV, “on the basis of having been employed by or on behalf of the US. Government or the International Security Assistance Force.” This leaves the outstanding 36,000 without a clear avenue to permanent residency, which includes family members of US citizens, the extended family of SIV holders and applicants, and those who might qualify through other programs.
Elsewhere, refugees face pushback and worsening conditions as some countries resist resettlement.