The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. State Department have announced new exemptions to ensure Afghans who would otherwise be eligible for the benefit or protection they are seeking are not automatically denied.

Adjudicating officers will apply these exemptions on a case-by-case, discretionary basis. The new exemptions may apply to the following individuals:

  • Afghans who supported U.S. military interests, specifically Afghans who fought or supported those who fought against the Taliban and those who fought against the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan.
  • Afghans employed as civil servants in Afghanistan from Sept. 27, 1996, to Dec. 22, 2001, or after Aug. 15, 2021. This group includes teachers, professors, postal workers, doctors and engineers, among others.
  • Afghans who gave insignificant or certain limited material support to a designated terrorist organization, including but not limited to cases where support was incidental or was provided in response to a reasonable threat of physical or economic harm.

Additional Information: Individuals will only qualify for the exemptions if they have undergone screening and vetting by the U.S. government and are determined to pose no risk to national security. A list of individuals who may be protected from certain automatic denials is available here.

BAL Analysis: BAL will continue to follow developments specifically affecting Afghan nationals and will provide updates on important immigration updates as information becomes available.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact

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