Afghans, Ukrainians in N.H. now eligible to seek longer stays in U.S.
Afghans and Ukrainians living in New Hampshire are now eligible to apply for a benefit from the U.S. government that could allow them to remain legally in the U.S. for at least 18 months.
The Department of Homeland Security made the announcement this month that people from both countries can be considered for temporary protected status. This designation is currently available to people from a list of countries in conflict, including Haiti, Yemen, and El Salvador.
The inclusion of Afghanistan on the list was welcomed by those working to resettle Afghan evacuees in the United States, though it falls short of many advocates’ calls to improve the path to citizenship for Afghans who worked with the U.S. military, and to help the thousands of Afghans still trying to leave their country.
Afghans who evacuated when the Taliban took over last August already have another status called “humanitarian parole” and may be eligible to receive asylum, but temporary protected status may be a more streamlined and stable option for those hoping to stay in the U.S.
Around 150 Afghan evacuees have moved to New Hampshire since last November. The International Institute of New England, one of the organizations helping to resettle them, says it will likely help evacuees apply for both asylum and temporary protected status.
Ron Abramson, an immigration attorney in Manchester, said the new designation might be most helpful for Afghans and Ukrainians who came here originally as students or on a work visa.
“We deal with people who have been studying or working in the U.S. who happen to be from Afghanistan or Ukraine, and when they left there was no reason to have these concerns. And now what do they do?” he said. “Temporary protected status is a lifeline to them.”
Abramson is working with a number of Afghans trying to get loved ones out of Afghanistan or refugee camps in other countries. Temporary protected status will not be available to any of those people, because they’re not yet in the United States.
The status also does not offer a path to a green card or citizenship. That path is unclear, even for the thousands of Afghans who worked with the U.S. military in Afghanistan.
“Temporary status is a positive development, but it is by no means a long-term secure solution for people who are by definition from places that are incredibly unstable and currently dangerous,” said Abramson.