On June 14, 2022 the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and US Department of State announced that citizens of Afghanistan who have supported and worked with the United States in Afghanistan can qualify for protection and other immigration benefits, given that they have undergone rigorous screening and vetting. The action will also cover individuals who have lived under Taliban rule and were required to pay money to the Taliban to be able to do basic things such as pass a checkpoint or obtain a passport, ensuring they are not unfairly barred from immigration benefits because of excessively broad applications of terrorism-related inadmissibility grounds (TRIG). Those individuals include former Afghan National Army soldiers who fought against the Taliban and former civil servants.
There are three new exemptions for the individuals described above, which will be considered on a case-by-case basis. To be considered for any of the exemptions, Afghan citizens will have to be subjected to comprehensive screening and vetting and be determined that they do not pose a risk to the national security or public safety of the United States.
The new exemptions apply to the following instances:
- Afghans who supported U.S. military efforts, either directly by fighting as allies to the US military or indirectly by supporting those who fought in the resistance movement against the Taliban. Afghans who fought against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan will also be considered.This exemption will not cover Afghans who targeted non-combatants, committed certain types of human rights abuses or violations, or were part of a designated terrorist organization.
- Afghans who worked employed as civil servants under the Taliban, either before the US intervention in 2001 or after the Taliban retook control of the country in 2021. This includes teachers, professors, postal workers, doctors, and engineers, among others. The second exemption does not cover people who held high-level posts under the Taliban, worked for certain Taliban ministries, assisted violence or held allegiance to the Taliban.
- The third exemption covers people who provided minor and insignificant material support to a designated terrorist organization. This covers cases where the support is incidental to a routine commercial transaction or provided under the threat of violence, economic harm, harassment; and where the support provided is considered negligible and insignificant. Such support could be in the form of paying a small bribe to pass a checkpoint or paying for utilities to the Taliban, paying Money to the Taliban to obtain a passport or other identity documents necessary to flee Afghanistan. The third exemption does not include Afghans who share Taliban ideology or that of other terrorist groups and where the intent of the dealings with the Taliban was to support their movement and goals.
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