The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement released Monday that it plans to waive immigration-related fees for up to 70,000 Afghan refugees, according to CNN.
The refugee resettlement follows the summer Taliban insurgency that resulted in most of the country falling under the organization’s control and the subsequent reestablishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
Under the new ruling, the Biden administration will exempt Afghan refugees paroled into the US on or after July 30 from the $410 and $1,225 application fees related to work authorization and green card permits, respectively.
”By providing these evacuees with access to streamlined processing and fee exemptions, we will open doors of opportunity for our Afghan allies and help them begin to rebuild their lives in communities across our country more quickly,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.
Refugee advocates such as Cathryn Miller-Wilson, the executive director of HIAS Pennsylvania, have been pushing for a rule like this for some time. She told Business Insider in September that legal fees were a significant concern of hers.
”The legal fees will help parolees pay an attorney to file for asylum on their behalf. A helpful thing, but, because of the backlog in asylum cases, the asylum process could take years. Once you file for asylum, work authorization will be issued approximately six months after filing.
”But the issuing of work authorization, otherwise known as Employment Authorization Documents (EADs), are backlogged as well so it could take longer than six months,” she said.
The president of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, had similar words for the Insider.
”Many of our refugee clients have expressed their frustration with the bureaucratic inefficiency that has prevented them from accessing the dignity of a job and the financial security that comes with it.”
According to the Department of Homeland Security, about 51,000 Afghan refugees are at eight Department of Defense sites in the U.S. Roughly 68,000 Afghans have come to the U.S. since Aug. 17, and more than 14,000 have been resettled domestically.