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Helping Evacuees from Afghanistan

By May 13, 2022No Comments

Due to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and other events that have unfolded there, many people from Afghanistan have resettled or are in the process of resettling in America.

OTDA has informed SNAP offices that many Afghan individuals coming into the U.S. will fall into 3 new categories of Qualified Non-Citizens eligible for SNAP under non-citizen SNAP rules:

  • Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders
  • Afghan Special Immigrant SQ/SI Parolees
  • Afghan Humanitarian Parolees

A fourth group will come in under the Afghanistan Emergency Repatriation Mission and includes U.S. citizens and their dependents.

Following is more information on each of these new categories of qualified non-citizens who are eligible for SNAP and information about the U.S. Repatriation Program (USRP) for U.S. citizens and their families who are eligible for SNAP. For specifics on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USICS) documents that are acceptable for each of these categories please see 21TA/DC071 or the LDSS-4579 “Non-Citizen Eligibility Desk Aid”.

SIV Holders and Special Immigrant SQ/SI Parolees

Afghan nationals that are SIV holders or Special Immigrants SQ/SI Parolees are generally interpreters and/or translators (or members of their families) who worked in Afghanistan with the U.S. Armed Forces or under authority of the Chief Mission for Afghanistan.

In 2009, the U.S. started granting Afghan SIV holders evacuating Afghanistan admission into the U.S. through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as special immigrants (SI) lawful permanent residents (LPRs). Additionally, due to the current evacuation of Afghanistan nationals from Afghanistan, DHS is now allowing Afghan SIV holders into the U.S. as SI conditional permanent residents (CPRs). Note: A CPR becomes an LPR after DHS removes the conditions on their LPR admission.

DHS has created a new category for Afghans who may qualify for SIVs but due to extenuating circumstances surrounding their evacuation were not able to complete the SIV process prior to their evacuation: special immigrant SQ/SI parole.

Under these rules, Afghan SIV holders (including SI LPRs and SI CPRs) and Afghan special immigrant SQ/SI parolees are considered qualified non-citizens eligible for SNAP, as well as Family Assistance (FA), Safety Net Assistance (SNA), and HEAP, as long as they meet the eligibility criteria for each program and are approved to participate in each assistance program.

Afghan Humanitarian Parolees

USCIS can exercise discretion to authorize humanitarian parole on a case-by-case basis for evacuees from Afghanistan with urgent humanitarian reasons to come to the U.S. for a temporary period.

Effective September 30, 2021, the USCIS is providing evacuees from Afghanistan who enter the U.S. on humanitarian parole access to federal benefits and services through the Afghanistan Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2022. This act allows specific individuals to receive public benefits for a limited period of time, either through March 31, 2023, or until the end of their parole term, whichever is later.

Under this rule, the following individuals granted humanitarian parolee status may be eligible for public benefits while in the U.S.:

  • Citizens or nationals of Afghanistan, or
  • Individuals with no nationality who last resided in Afghanistan.

In order to be eligible for public benefits these individuals must have:

  • Completed DHS’s background check,
  • Been paroled into the U.S. by DHS
    • between July 31, 2021 and September 30, 2022, or
    • after September 30, 2022 and, are
      • the spouse or child of an evacuee from Afghanistan paroled between July 31, 2021 and September 30, 2022, or
      • the parent or legal guardian of an unaccompanied child paroled between July 31, 2021 and September 30, 2022.

By meeting the criteria above these individuals are eligible for SNAP as well as Family Assistance (FA), Safety Net Assistance (SNA), and HEAP, if they meet the eligibility criteria for each program and are approved to participate in these assistance programs.

Verifying Immigration Documentation

SNAP offices must use the SAVE System when determining SNAP eligibility to verify non-citizen immigration documentation. When using SAVE, SNAP benefits must not be delayed, denied, reduced or terminated, pending verification of the non-citizens’ documentation. If the SNAP office has established that the non-citizen meets all the other factors of eligibility for SNAP, they must grant SNAP benefits while awaiting a response from the SAVE system.

United States Repatriation Program

As a result of the Afghanistan Emergency Repatriation Mission, thousands of people, including U.S. citizens and their dependents, have returned to the U.S. via government-provided flights to Emergency Repatriation Centers in the U.S. The purpose of these Centers was to receive these evacuees and assist those unable to proceed to their final destination. This is because U.S. citizens and their dependents have the constitutional right to travel and to live in any state that they may choose. These families will be assisted by the USRP, administered in NYS by OTDA Bureau of Refugee Services (BRS). U.S. Citizens and their families are eligible to participate in SNAP upon meeting all SNAP eligibility criteria and being approved for benefits.

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