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Two Years Since the Fall of Afghanistan: Useful Resources to Support Afghan Newcomers in the U.S.

This August marks the two-year anniversary of the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan. During this two-year period, the United States has welcomed over 90,000 Afghan evacuees through Operation Allies Welcome. Since 2021, resettlement agencies, state agencies, and community-based organizations have worked tirelessly to support Afghan newcomers’ integration into local communities. As the process of integration continues, both strengths and challenges continue to arise and evolve. This post shares resources that will help service providers better assist Afghan newcomers.

Cross-Cutting Resources

Settle In is available in 12 languages, including Pashto and Dari, and includes multi-lingual, multimedia resources on employment, housing, education, health, community services, rights and responsibilities, money management, cultural adjustment, and many more topics. Settle In Help Center articles, also available in Pashto and Dari, cover topics like Facts About the Re-Parole Profess for Afghans; Afghans Crossing the Mexican Border to the U.S.; Afghan Family Reunification, and more. The Settle In for Afghans Facebook page offers in-language information, live events, and the ability to direct message with trained and experienced Dari- and Pashto-speaking Digital Community Liaisons.

The Virtual Resettlement Line (VRL) is a one-stop resource for Afghan and Ukrainian humanitarian parolees who are not yet connected to a resettlement agency or struggling to access their community’s benefits or resources. VRL can be reached 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM ET Monday – Friday by calling +1 (212) 551-3010 or emailing VRL@rescue.org. VRL’s virtual navigators speak English, Ukrainian, Russian, Dari, and Pashto.

 

Immigration Legal Needs

As the initial parole periods end and more Afghans obtain other statuses, their current immigration legal needs may be related to family reunification, re-parole, adjustment of status, continued employment authorization, and asylum.

In partnership with Switchboard, VECINA offers Weekly Office Hours for Legal Questions Related to Operation Allies Refuge (OAR) Parolees. These sessions are for lawyers and accredited representatives working at ORR-funded organizations with questions about immigration cases for OAR parolees. Please use this Zoom Link to join the Office Hours every Thursday from 2:00 – 3:00 PM ET.

Immigration Legal Services for Afghan Arrivals (ILSAA) is a project funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and implemented by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) to provide immigration legal services at no cost to Eligible Afghan Arrivals (EAAs) across the country. EAAs include Afghan humanitarian parolees, unaccompanied Afghan minors, and others with eligible status as defined in ORR Policy Letter 22-01. It also helps build the capacity of immigration legal service providers (LSPs) to engage in these services.

Economic Empowerment

Afghan newcomers bring a range of skills, education levels, and professional backgrounds to their new communities in the United States. Providers supporting these clients in their career journeys may encounter needs related to job readiness coaching and support, licensure and certification requirements, “soft skills” like interviewing and networking, and employer bias.

Mental Health and Wellness

Due to the circumstances of their forced displacement, Afghan newcomers have likely been exposed to a multitude of potentially traumatic events. Though Afghan newcomers are incredibly resilient, these experiences may have a lasting impact on their mental health and wellness. Providers should seek to be aware of Afghan newcomers’ mental health needs and offer appropriate support if necessary.

In December 2022, with funding from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) launched the Post-Resettlement Behavioral Health Support Program for Afghan Arrivals. This program is designed to increase access to behavioral health services for Afghan Placement and Assistance Program (APA)-eligible clients throughout the United States. USCRI and its partners provide a novel interdisciplinary approach with culturally tailored, trauma-informed psychosocial services through four main program components: a 24/7 national crisis hotline, telehealth services, community field teams, and crisis response teams.

Health Care

The U.S. health care system can be especially challenging to navigate. Afghan newcomers may need support from service providers to enroll in health insurance, complete health screening, access primary and specialist care, and overcome language barriers through interpretation services.

Cultural Considerations

Providers seeking to serve Afghan newcomers with cultural awareness may need information on Afghan history, cultures, ethnicities, languages, and religions, as well as resources on working with interpreters, mitigating inter-ethnic tensions, and delivering gender-sensitive programs.

Youth Education

Beginning with the 2021–22 school year, schools across the United States enrolled significant numbers of children and youth from Afghanistan. While many schools and communities have a long history of welcoming refugee and immigrant students, educators and school districts may need additional learning resources given the large number of arriving Afghan students.

Housing

As the housing market shifts and rent prices continue to increase across the U.S., the strain on refugees and other newcomers seeking affordable housing continues to grow. Afghan newcomers are among those facing these challenges.

Looking for More Resources?

Additional resources for Afghan newcomers are available here, in the Switchboard library

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