As you know, in the first week of August, ORR published ORR PL 21-07(link is external), Amendment to ORR Policy Letter 16-01: Additional Form of Documentation for Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrants. In addition, in response to concerns about Afghans with SI/SQ parole (per section 602(B)(1) AAPA / Section 1509(a) NDAA 2006) not being able to access mainstream benefits, ORR took two main steps.
- Issued ORR DCL 21-16(link is external), Clarification Related to Afghan SQ/SI Parolees Eligibility for RCA/RMA, as a reminder that if these Afghan parolees are found ineligible for TANF or Medicaid, they should be screened for RCA and RMA.
- Conducted outreach to CMS (Medicaid), USCIS (SAVE), OFA (TANF), and the Department of Agriculture/Food and Nutrition Service (SNAP) and shared ORR PL 21-07 with them, encouraging them to issue notifications to their local offices to ensure that Afghan individuals with SI/SQ parole (per section 602(B)(1) AAPA / Section 1509(a) NDAA 2006) would not be denied mainstream benefits.
Each of these offices notified their local networks and have since sent us their communications (attached), so that we could advise you that these actions have taken place. We hope that these communications prove helpful if Afghan Special Immigrant (SI/SQ) Parolees face difficulty accessing mainstream benefits.
Please note that, as addressed in ORR DCL 21-18 (attached), Afghan parolees without SI/SQ parole (per section 602(B)(1) AAPA / Section 1509(a) NDAA 2006) are not eligible for ORR services. However, these individuals may be eligible for resettlement-like services through the Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. Please contact a local refugee resettlement agency(link is external) for more information as appropriate. In addition, please reach out to your contacts regarding eligibility for mainstream benefits in your state. We will inform you about any other sources of assistance for this population as we learn of those options.
Additional Information regarding Afghan Interpreters:
A number of the Afghan interpreters that are being evacuated from Afghanistan are being offered resettlement in the United States. A number of these Afghan interpreters are now special immigrants. As you may know, Afghan special immigrants are to be treated the same as refugees for the purpose of Federal benefits, meaning they are eligible for benefits available to refugees, including TANF. See 8 U.S.C. 1101 note.
However, rather than provide Afghan special immigrants with the previous designations, DHS has created a special code for Afghan special immigrants: SQ/SI Parole (per section 602(B)(1) AAPA/Section 1059(a) NDAA 2006). Please see attached ORR-DCL-21-15-SQ SI Parole- 8.3.2021 and ORR-PL-21-07-SISQ Parole – 8.3.2021.