< Back to Search

State Letter #09-17

Afghan Special Immigrants Are Now Eligible for Eight Months of ORR Benefits and Services from Date of Entry to U.S.

Published: April 9, 2009
Types:
State Letter
Tags:
afghan, siv

TO: STATE REFUGEE COORDINATORS
REFUGEE HEALTH COORDINATORS
NATIONAL VOLUNTARY AGENCIES
OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES

FROM: David H. Siegel
Acting Director
Office of Refugee Resettlement

SUBJECT: Afghan Special Immigrants Are Now Eligible for Eight Months of ORR Benefits and Services from Date of Entry to U.S.

Purpose of this ORR State Letter: ORR State Letter # 08-04 partially superseded.

The purpose of this ORR State Letter is to provide guidance to Refugee Service Providers on Section 602, Division F of Pub. L. No. 111-08, the “Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009 ” as it affects t he eligibility of Afghan Special Immigrants for ORR benefits and services including the duration of eligibility for ORR benefits.

Change in Duration of Eligibility of Afghan Special Immigrants for ORR Benefits and Services from 6 to 8 Months

Please note that this State Letter supersedes that portion of ORR State Letter # 08-04 that addresses the duration of eligibility of Afghan Special Immigrants for ORR benefits and services. ORR State Letter # 08-04 had announced 6 months of ORR benefits and services for Afghan Special Immigrants. This State Letter stipulates that Afghan Special Immigrants are eligible for 8 months of ORR benefits and services from date of entry to the U.S. or date of adjustment of status if applying from within the U.S. for Special Immigrant Status.

Effective March 11, 2009, both Afghan Special Immigrants admitted to the U.S. under Section 602, Division F, Pub. L. No. 111-08, and those admitted under Section 1059 of the NDAA as amended, as of March 11, 2009 are eligible for 8 months of ORR benefits and services from date of entry or date of adjustment if applying domestically.*

Section 602, Division F, Pub. L. No. 111-08, the “Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009

Section 602 of Pub. L. No. 111-08, the “Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2009,” signed into law on March 11, 2009 contains in part the following language:

SEC. 602. PROTECTION FOR AFGHAN ALLIES.

(b) Special Immigrant Status for Certain Afghans-

(1) IN GENERAL- Subject to paragraph (3), the Secretary of Homeland Security, or, notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary of State in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, may provide an alien described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C) of paragraph (2) with the status of a special immigrant under section 101(a)(27) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(27)), if the alien--

(A) or an agent acting on behalf of the alien, submits a petition for classification under section 203(b)(4) of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1153(b)(4));

(B) is otherwise eligible to receive an immigrant visa;

(C) is otherwise admissible to the United States for permanent residence (excluding the grounds for inadmissibility specified in section 212(a)(4) of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(4)); and

(D) clears a background check and appropriate screening, as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security.

(2) ALIENS DESCRIBED-

(A) PRINCIPAL ALIENS- An alien is described in this subparagraph if the alien--

(i) is a citizen or national of Afghanistan;

(ii) was or is employed by or on behalf of the United States Government in Afghanistan on or after October 7, 2001, for not less than one year;

(iii) provided faithful and valuable service to the United States Government, which is documented in a positive recommendation or evaluation, subject to subparagraph (D), from the employee's senior supervisor or the person currently occupying that position, or a more senior person, if the employee's senior supervisor has left the employer or has left Afghanistan; and

(iv) has experienced or is experiencing an ongoing serious threat as a consequence of the alien's employment by the United States Government….

(D) APPROVAL BY CHIEF OF MISSION REQUIRED…..

(8) RESETTLEMENT SUPPORT- A citizen or national of Afghanistan who is granted special immigrant status described in section 101(a)(27) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(27)) shall be eligible for resettlement assistance, entitlement programs, and other benefits available to refugees admitted under section 207 of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1157) for a period not to exceed 8 months.

Afghan Special Immigrants Eligible for ORR Benefits and Services; Date of Eligibility for ORR Benefits and Services is Date of Entry to the U.S.; Eligibility Counting Methods

Section 602, Division F of Pub. L. No. 111-08 makes Afghan Special Immigrants eligible for ORR benefits and services. The date of eligibility for ORR benefits and services of the Afghan Special Immigrant is his or her entry date, i.e., the date he or she was admitted to the U.S. as an Afghan Special Immigrant. For Afghans applying for Special Immigrant Status from within the U.S., the date of ORR eligibility is the date of adjustment of status to Afghan Special Immigrant as indicated on the I-551 (green card). The date of eligibility for ORR benefits and services is not the date of application for ORR benefits and services. As noted, the date on which ORR eligibility begins is the date on which the Afghan Special Immigrant enters the U.S. or adjusts to that status within the U.S.

There is no provision to provide retroactive benefits and services to make up for the delay between date of entry to the U.S. and date of application for ORR benefits and services.

Duration of Eligibility of Afghan Special Immigrants for ORR Benefits and Services Is Now 8 Months

As noted, this State Letter supersedes that part of ORR State Letter # 08-04 that concerns the duration of eligibility for ORR benefits and services of Afghan Special Immigrants granted status under Sec. 1059 of the NDAA and eligible for benefits under Sec. 525 of Pub. L. No. 110-161. ORR State Letter # 08-04 had set forth the rule of 6 months of ORR benefits and services for Afghan Special Immigrants from date of entry.

Effective March 11, 2009, Afghan Special Immigrants are eligible for ORR benefits and services to the same extent as refugees, for 8 months from date of entry or date of adjustment if applying from within the U.S. After March 11, 2009, to determine the eligibility period of Afghan Special Immigrants for ORR benefits and services, identify the entry date and count forward eight months to find the new date on which eligibility expires.

I. Entry Dates On or Before July 11, 2008

Please note that Afghan Special Immigrants whose entry date was on or before July 11, 2008 have an entry date that is more than eight months prior to March 11, 2009, when Section 602 of Pub. L. No. 111-08 became law and authorized 8 months of eligibility. Thus, those Afghan Special Immigrants who arrived in the U.S. or adjusted status on or before July 11, 2008, do not benefit from Section 602 of Pub. L. No. 111-08 because their 8 month period from date of entry or adjustment expired before March 11, 2009. These Afghan Special Immigrants may receive only up to 6 months of ORR benefits and services.

Example: An Afghan Special Immigrant whose date of entry is June 15, 2008 is eligible for ORR benefits and services up to December 14, 2008, 6 months after date of entry. ( See ORR State Letters # 08-04, 08-06, and 09-02.)

Date of Eligibility for ORR Benefits and Services is not the Date of Application for ORR Benefits and Services; Counting Time Eligibility

The date of application for ORR benefits and services does not determine the eligibility period. The date on which ORR eligibility begins is the date on which the Afghan Special Immigrant enters the U.S. or domestically adjusts to that status.

There is no provision to provide benefits and services to make up for the delay between date of entry to the U.S. and date of application for ORR benefits and services.

Refer to 45 CFR 400.220, Counting time eligibility for refugees. Most states have opted to count time-eligibility on the basis of calendar months.
45 CFR Sec. 400.220 “Counting Time-Eligibility of Refugees”

“A state may calculate the time-eligibility of a refugee under this part in either of the following ways (a) On the basis of calendar months, in which case the month of arrival in the United States must count as the first month; or (b) On the basis of the actual date of arrival, in which case each month will be counted from that specific date.” {54 FR 5483, Feb. 3, 1989}

For purposes of illustration, this and the following examples use the actual date of arrival method rather than month of arrival method (see below).

In no case may ORR-funded benefits or services be provided to the Afghan Special Immigrant after 8 months from their date of entry to the U.S., or date of grant of status as indicated on the I-551, if applying domestically.

II. Entry Dates From July 12, 2008 to September 11, 2008

Afghan Special Immigrants with an entry or adjustment date from July 12, 2008 to September 11, 2008 have a 6 month eligibility period that expires before March 11, 2009 (the day Section 602 of Pub. L. No. 111-08 became law), but an 8 month eligibility period that expires after March 11, 2009. Afghan Special Immigrants who entered or adjusted from July 12, 2008 to September 11, 2008 will see their benefits terminated at the 6 month mark. After an absence of eligibility for benefits of some days or weeks depending on their particular case, states may reinstate their eligibility, but only to a maximum of 8 months from date of entry or adjustment. The 6 and 8 month periods are not added together.An Afghan Special Immigrant can never be eligible for more than 8 months of ORR benefits and services in total. Important: There is no provision to provide retroactive benefits for the interrupted period.

Example: An Afghan Special Immigrant whose date of entry to the U.S. is August 15, 2008, would be - prior to March 11, 2009 when Section 602 of Pub. L. No. 111-08 became law - eligible for ORR benefits and service for 6 months, until February 14, 2009. ( See ORR State Letters # 08-04 and # 09-02.) Effective March 11, 2009, this Afghan Special Immigrant, like other Afghan Special Immigrants, becomes eligible for 8 months of ORR benefits and services beginning from date of entry or adjustment, in this case up to April 14, 2009. However, the Afghan Special Immigrant in this example would not be eligible to receive “replacement” benefits for the period February 15, 2009 to March 10, 2009, because there is no provision in the law to provide such benefits during this period after expiration of the 6 months but before the authority for the 8 month eligibility period became law.

In no case may ORR-funded benefits or services be provided to the Afghan Special Immigrant after 8 months from their date of entry to the U.S., or date of grant of status as indicated on the I-551, if applying domestically.

III. Entry Dates September 12, 2008 or Later

Afghan Special Immigrants whose date of entry or adjustment is September 12, 2008 or later are eligible to receive the full 8 months of ORR benefits and services without interruption.

Example: An Afghan Special Immigrant whose date of entry to the U.S. is November 15, 2008 is eligible for ORR benefits and services up to July 14, 2009.

In no case may ORR-funded benefits or services be provided to the Afghan Special Immigrant after eight months from their date of entry to the U.S., or date of grant of status as indicated on the I-551, if applying domestically.

Arrival Dates and Eligibility

May 25, 2008 - eligible up to November 24, 2008
July 25, 2008 - eligible up to January 24, 2009 | not eligible January 25 to March 10, 2009 | eligible March 11 to March 24, 2009
August 28, 2008 - eligible up to February 27, 2009 | not eligible February 28 to March 10, 2009 | eligible March 11 to April 27, 2009
September 4, 2008 - eligible up to March 3, 2009 | not eligible March 4 to 10, 2009 | eligible March 11 to May 3, 2009
September 15, 2008 - eligible up to May 14, 2009
October 10, 2008 - eligible up to June 9, 2009
December 15, 2008 - eligible up to August 14, 2009
January 23, 2009 - eligible up to September 22, 2009

Eligibility for ORR Benefits and Services of Family Members of Afghan Special Immigrants

Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may accompany to the U.S. or follow-to-join the Afghan Special Immigrant. A family member of an Afghan Special Immigrant who applies for ORR-funded benefits and services should produce documentation to demonstrate identity and immigration status as an Afghan Special Immigrant. Family members admitted to the U.S. after the arrival of the principal applicant Afghan Special Immigrant spouse or parent are eligible for ORR benefits and services from their own date of entry to the U.S., not from the date of entry to the U.S. of the principal applicant.

Documentation of Eligibility for ORR Benefits and Services of Afghan Special Immigrants

Providers will be required to determine eligibility in accordance with ORR regulations. This eligibility determination includes confirmation of the individual’s status and date of entry through appropriate documentation.

The following documents will confirm both status and date of entry for Afghan Special Immigrants:

  • Principal Applicant Afghan Special Immigrant - Afghan passport with an immigrant visa stamp noting that the individual has been admitted under IV (Immigrant Visa) Category SQ1 or SI1
  • Spouse of Principal Applicant Afghan Special Immigrant - Afghan passport with an immigrant visa stamp noting that the individual has been admitted under IV (Immigrant Visa) Category SQ2 or SI2
  • Unmarried Child Under 21 Years of Age of Afghan Special Immigrant - Afghan passport with an immigrant visa stamp noting that the individual has been admitted under IV (Immigrant Visa) Category SQ3 or SI3
  • Principal Applicant Afghan Special Immigrant / Principal Adjusting Status in the U.S. - DHS Form I-551 (“green card”) showing Afghan nationality (or Afghan passport), with an IV (immigrant visa) code of SQ6 or SI6
  • Spouse of Principal Applicant Afghan Special Immigrant in SI6 Category - DHS Form I-551 (“green card”) showing Afghan nationality (or Afghan passport), with an IV (immigrant visa) code of SQ7 or SI7
  • Unmarried Child Under 21 Years of Age of Afghan Special Immigrant in SI6 Category - DHS Form I-551 (“green card”) showing Afghan Nationality (or Afghan passport), with an IV (“immigrant visa”) code of SQ9 or SI9

Afghan Special Immigrants Eligibility for Federal Public Benefits Other Than ORR Benefits and Services

Under the language in Sec. 602, Division F of Pub. L. No. 111-08, 2008, Afghan Special Immigrants are eligible for “resettlement assistance, entitlement programs, and other benefits available to refugees admitted under section 207 of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1157) for a period not to exceed 8 months. These programs and benefits would appear to include federal public benefits, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Food Stamps, Medicaid, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). In order to receive any of these benefits, they would also need to meet the income, resource, and other eligibility requirements. These benefit programs are not administered by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and questions about them should be directed to the appropriate office or agency.

Iraqi Special Immigrants are not affected by Sec. 602, Division F of Pub. L. No. 111-08 and thus are not addressed in this ORR State Letter.

This policy change is effective March 11, 2009.

If you have questions regarding any of the information contained in this State Letter, please contact Thomas Pabst at (202) 401-5398 or by email at thomas.pabst@acf.hhs.gov.


* Section 1059 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2006, Pub. L. No. 109-163, originally authorized the admission to the U.S. each fiscal year of up to 50 Iraqi and Afghan translators employed by the U.S. military. Pub. L. No. 110-36 of June 15, 2007, amended section 1059 by expanding the total number of principal applicant beneficiaries to 500 a year for FY 2007 and FY 2008 only. In FY 2009, the number of visas available for this category reverted to 50 annually. Section 525 of Title V of Division G of Pub. L. No. 110-161, “The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008” of December 26, 2007 made Afghan Special Immigrants eligible for ORR benefits and services (and other federal benefits) for 6 months from date of entry. ( See ORR State Letter # 08-04.) Under Section 602, Division F of Pub. L. No. 111-08 , for each year for the Fiscal Years 2009 through 2013, up to 1,500 Afghan principal applicants may be granted Afghan Special Immigrant status. Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may accompany to the U.S. or follow-to-join the Afghan Special Immigrant principal applicant. Family members do not count against the annual quota of 1,500, which applies to principal applicant Afghan Special Immigrants only.