The P1 and P2 (or priority 1 and priority 2 programs) are ways that some Afghan citizens can be considered for resettlement as a refugee to the United States.
Afghan citizens cannot apply directly for refugee resettlement to the United States. Their U.S.-based family members, friends, or lawyers also cannot refer them. They must be referred by:
- A U.S. government official or the U.S.-affiliated company or
- The U.S.-affiliated company or organization that employed the Afghan citizen in Afghanistan.
P-1 and P-2 are not visa categories and have no relationship to the nonimmigrant P visa categories. Refugee resettlement and P1/P2 resettlement categories are also distinct from the SIV program and from humanitarian parole.
How long will this process take?
People who are referred through P-1 and P-2 must also complete extensive processing, including interviews and security checks. No one with a referral is guaranteed to receive approval for resettlement. IRAP’s information about the U.S. refugee resettlement process is here. IRAP expects that this process will take several years.
There is no refugee resettlement processing in Afghanistan. People who leave Afghanistan will not receive financial support from the U.S. government or UN while they wait to see if their application will be approved.
This information is based on U.S. government information. This program was announced on August 2, 2021. As of February 2022, IRAP does not believe that any Afghan citizens have completed processing and will not complete processing for a long time. Thousands of individuals have been referred for this program, but the U.S. government has not built all of the steps needed for processing. IRAP will update this guide as the U.S. government publishes more information and as individuals progress through the process.
Can a P-1 or P-2 referral help an Afghan national to leave Afghanistan?
No. At the moment, there are no options for U.S. immigration processing from inside Afghanistan. An applicant start an SIV application or receive a P-1 or P-2 referral from inside Afghanistan. These start programs for relocation to the United States, but there is no way to finish them from inside Afghanistan. The P-1 and P-2 referral programs are not currently connected to any evacuation programs.
The U.S. government has not announced where it will do interviews for resettlement for this program. It has said that it will not process applications in Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, Syria, or Yemen.
How can an Afghan be referred for P-2?
The State Department published guidance in English that is available here. Afghans may be eligible for a P-2 referral if they worked in Afghanistan:
- For a U.S. government-funded program or project supported through a U.S. government grant or cooperative agreement.
- Employees of sub-contractors and sub-grantees are not eligible for P-2.
- For a U.S.-based media organization.
- For a U.S.-based non-governmental organization.
Afghans may also be eligible for this program if their work would qualify for an SIV, but they did not work long enough to be eligible for an SIV. This includes work in Afghanistan:
- As employees of U.S. government contractors for less than one year.
- Employees of subcontractors are not eligible for P-2.
- For the U.S. government as locally-employed staff for less than one year.
- As interpreters/translators for the U.S. Government, United States Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A), International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), or Resolute Support for less than one year.
The P-2 program does not accept applicant self-referrals. U.S. government guidance says that a US government official must approve of a P-2 referral.
For US-based media and NGOs, referrals must be made by the senior-most U.S. citizen employee of the media organization’s or NGO’s headquarters in the United States. Under current State Department guidance, this program does not require:
- A minimum length of employment on the relevant project, grant, or contract.
- Recommendation letters describing the value of the individual’s service.
- That a specific percentage of the individual’s employment have been connected to U.S. funding.
If you did not work for a U.S.-based media organization or NGO, then you must be referred by a U.S. government official from the U.S. government agency that funded your employer. Your employer or supervisor should contact the U.S. government official or agency that funded your work to ask how to make a referral.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has created a website and process here to accept requests from Afghans who worked for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects.
The Department of Defense (DOD) has also an email address the DOD employees may use to make P1 and P2 referrals, firstname.lastname@example.org. The DOD has indicated that the email is for DOD employees only and there is currently no process or email for Afghans to directly request P1 or P2 referrals from the DOD. If you are not in touch with your employer in Afghanistan, you can also contact a U.S. government official who knows about your work and the U.S.-funded contract or grant that employed you.
Eligible family members
If you are eligible, your employer can refer:
- Your spouse
- Your children (of any age, married or unmarried)
The State Department has not explained whether the spouse and children can apply without the eligible employee, including if the eligible employee dies.
How can an Afghan be referred for P-1?
P-1, or Priority 1, is one way of referring people for consideration for refugee resettlement. P-1 referrals can be made by US embassies, NGOs, and UNHCR. Individuals cannot apply for a P-1 referral.
U.S. embassies historically have made referrals only rarely. Currently, some U.S. government officials can recommend Afghans for Embassy referrals. An Afghan who knows U.S. government officials from work in Afghanistan can ask them if they are able to make a referral. A U.S. government employee who knew an Afghan personally in Afghanistan must make the referral. That person must receive approval from a senior government official.
Information is available on this State Department guidance.
NGOs can make P-1 referrals but must be designated as qualified referral entities. IRAP is not aware of NGOs currently making referrals for individuals who are in Afghanistan.
UNHCR refers a very small percentage of refugees every year to be resettled. They only refer refugees for resettlement, meaning individuals who are outside their countries of origin.
What happens after an Afghan is referred through P1 or P2?
Afghans can be referred to USRAP whether they are in Afghanistan or outside the country. However, processing and interviews will not start until you are able to leave Afghanistan. The U.S. government has not announced where it will do interviews for resettlement for this program. It has said that it will not process applications in Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, Syria, or Yemen.
The State Department’s guidance says that after an employer submits information to the U.S. government, and the State Department has reviewed the referral and decided that it is complete and eligible, the State Department will email the applicant from email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. This email from the State Department will explain how to inform the State Department if an applicant leaves Afghanistan.
Please note that the State Department expects that employers / referring agencies will serve as the contact for applicants until a referral is complete and accepted. When the State Department accepts a referral, both the employer and the applicant should receive an email from email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you believe that you have been referred through P-1 or P-2 but have not received that email, then you should follow up with your employer / referrer for more information and updates.
Refugee resettlement processing includes two interviews, security checks, and a medical check. The U.S. government estimates that the process could take more than one year. IRAP believes that processing will likely take several years. IRAP’s guide about the refugee resettlement process is here.
Can I apply for P-1 or P-2 and other immigration programs at the same time?
Yes. IRAP has guides on other pathways that may apply to them on our website, iraplegalinfo.org. This website includes information about SIVs, family reunification, and humanitarian parole.
Can I apply for P-1 or P-2 from inside the United States?
People with P-1 and P-2 referrals who were paroled into the United States are not able to complete this process from inside the United States. Those individuals should request legal help for potential avenues to obtain long-term legal status in the United States.