Biden administration grants temporary legal status to recent Afghan arrivals in US

US President Joe Biden in his office. Photo published by the White House on July 9, 2022.

The Biden administration announced on Thursday that it is granting temporary legal status to migrants from Afghanistan who have resided in the United States for slightly over a year.

The Department of Homeland Security, in its statement, revealed that the decision to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Afghans who arrived after March 15, 2022, and before Sept. 20, 2023, will impact approximately 14,600 Afghan individuals.

This status does not confer a long-term right to remain in the country or a path to citizenship. It is valid until 2025, at which point renewal will be necessary. However, it does shield recipients from deportation and allows them to seek employment in the United States.

The number of individuals affected is relatively small. On Thursday, the administration concurrently granted Temporary Protected Status to nearly 500,000 Venezuelan nationals residing in the country.

Nonetheless, many Afghan beneficiaries of this new protection undertook significant risks to reach the United States, often exhausting all available alternatives to escape Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Supporters have contended that they merit protection.

Eskinder Negash, the head of the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, commented, “Today’s decision is a clear acknowledgment of the ongoing conditions in Afghanistan, which have continued to deteriorate under Taliban rule.”

Furthermore, the Department also renewed protected status for a smaller group of Afghan nationals, approximately 3,100 people. This group already possessed such protection, but the administration must periodically reaffirm it.

Thursday’s announcement will not affect tens of thousands of other Afghans who arrived in the United States during the American airlift in August 2021 or those who immigrated over the years through special immigrant visas designated for individuals who closely collaborated with the US military or government.