The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) provides free legal help to some refugees and displaced people.
- IRAP helps some people find services and prepare refugee and visa applications.
- IRAP is not part of any government, IOM, or UNHCR.
- IRAP cannot grant refugee status or visas or speed up cases.
- IRAP cannot provide financial help, find or pay for housing, or find jobs.
- All of IRAP’s help is free. No one affiliated with IRAP has the right to ask you for money or any other service.
IRAP decides to help people based on their need and eligibility for immigration status. IRAP does not decide to help people based on any other social or political or religious criteria.
This website provides general information about legal processes available to some refugees. It is not meant as legal advice for individual applications.
If you are in a refugee emergency, we recommend that you contact the UNHCR office in the country where you live .
This guide provides general information for Afghan SIV applicants who entered the U.S. on a visa or with parole. It gives information about applying for Adjustment of Status (AOS) on form I-485 from inside the United States. This is also known as applying for a green card.
This guide does not provide information for SIV applicants outside the United States. If you are an Afghan SIV applicant outside of the U.S. you should apply for an immigrant visa by completing a DS-260 with the Department of State. IRAP’s guide on the DS-260 is here.
This guide is for Afghan SIV applicants who entered the United States through U.S. government evacuations with parole and continue to have valid parole. You can check the stamp on your passport to see if you were paroled into the United States.
This guide is also for Afghan SIV applicants who entered the United States on a nonimmigrant visa and still hold the nonimmigrant status from that visa. All other Afghan SIV applicants in the United States, like those who do not have a valid status or are in immigration court, should talk to an immigration attorney for more information before applying for AOS.
Before applying for AOS, you should already have:
Received Chief of Mission (COM) approval confirming that you meet the requirements to be considered for SIV. A description of those requirements is available here. An example of a COM approval from before July 20, 2022, is below:
- If you do not have COM approval, see IRAP’s guides about applying for COM approval here.
- Note: There are Afghan applicants who are applying to the smaller SIV program limited to interpreters or translators. This is the Section 1059 SIV program. The 1059 program does not require COM approval. They begin the process by filing an I-360 with a letter from a general or flag officer.
Review whether you need to file an I-360:
- If you need to file an I-360, then you must have received I-360 approval in order to apply for a green card.
- You will know that your I-360 has been approved because you will have received a notice of action (form I-797) that looks like this:
Your notice will be a “Conditional Approval” notice and say your petition is “approved or conditionally approved.”
If you are required to file an I-360 please see IRAP’s guide on how to file an I-360 petition.
If I already was interviewed for an SIV, do I still have to file an I-485 adjustment of status?
Yes. If you entered the United States through parole and you are still in parole status, you will need a permanent immigration status. This is true regardless of the stage of your visa application when your evacuation occurred.
Application to Adjust Status - Form I-485
Once you have received COM approval and either 1) confirmed that you do not need to file an I-360 or 2) confirmed that you do need to file an I-360 and you have received a form I-797 confirming that your I-360 petition has been conditionally approved, you can file the form I-485 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
SIV applicants in the United States file the form I-485 to ask to receive lawful permanent resident status. This is also called green card status. Having permanent resident status or green card status means that you:
- Can stay in the United States.
- Can work in the United States.
- Can petition for certain family members to join you in the U.S. See IRAP’s guides about family reunification here.
- Eventually can apply to become a U.S. citizen. To learn more about how to become a U.S. citizen, see the U.S. government’s guide to U.S. citizenship here.
Important things to know about filing the I-485 application
You can file an I-485 application for:
- Your spouse who is with you in the United States
- Any unmarried children under 21 who are with you in the United States.
Each person on your SIV case must file their own I-485 application to receive lawful permanent resident status. You may mail all of your family’s I-485 applications together in one envelope, but you must include all of the required parts for each application.
If your spouse or any of your children under the age of 21 remain outside of the U.S., you must wait until your I-485 is approved to begin the process of applying for follow-to-join immigrant visas.
What to submit with each application
Each I-485 application you file for yourself or your family members should be accompanied by:
- A signed form I-485 with all relevant sections completed. You can review USCIS instructions on how to complete form I-485. Note that Afghan SIV applicants do not have to pay the filing fee.
- Two identical color photographs, sized 2x2 inches. For detailed instructions of what the photos should look like, read State Department’s passport photo guidance.
- If you are required to submit an I-360, then include a copy of the conditional approval notice Form I-797 of your I-360 special immigrant petition. You can see a sample I-360 conditional approval notice above.
- A copy of the “photograph” page of your Afghan passport, if available.
- A copy of your current Afghan tazkera or e-tazkera, if available, with translation into English and certificate of translation.
- A copy of the page of your passport with the parole stamp.
- A copy of your Form I-94. This is the document that you received when you entered the United States. If you do not have a copy of your I-94 you can search for your I-94 on CBP’s website. If you do not have a passport number or A number, you may be able to find your I-94 by entering your tazkera number.
- I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, sealed, that has been completed by a “civil surgeon.” This a doctor who is certified to complete medical exams and I-693 forms. You can use USCIS’s Find a Doctor tool to find a doctor near you who is allowed to complete I-693 forms. You may still be required to complete this even if you underwent a medical exam at the military base where you were paroled.
- For the application of your spouse, a copy of the marriage certificate, if available, with translation into English and certificate of translation.
- For the application of your child, a copy of a birth certificate, if available, or tazkera showing the father’s name, if available, with translation into English and certificate of translation.
What if I do not understand a question on the form or I am worried about how answering a question may affect my eligibility?
If you are not sure how to fill out part of the form or if you have a concern about your eligibility, you should speak to an immigration attorney. You can search for free or low cost immigration legal services providers in your area here.
Where to mail your application
All I-485 applications for Afghan SIVs should be mailed to the same address:
Attn: AFGHAN NFB (Box 21281)
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Phoenix, AZ 85034-4850
The application is free to file
You do not have to pay to file your I-485 application. Write “AFGHAN SIV OPERATION ALLIES WELCOME” on every page of your application. This will help the U.S. government know that your application does not require a fee.
You should receive a receipt notice called the Form I-797 from USCIS within a few weeks after submitting your I-485 application. If you submitted a Form G-1145 to receive automatic notification of the receipt of your application, you will receive it by email and by mail. If you did not submit form G-1145, you will only receive the receipt notice Form I-797 by mail.
The receipt notice means that USCIS has received your petition. USCIS has not decided your case yet. Some time later, you will receive a notice that your petition has been approved, denied, or if USCIS needs more evidence or an interview with you.
After you submit the I-485, USCIS may schedule you for an interview.
Change of Address
If you move and change your address, you can use the USCIS change of address website to update your address with USCIS.
Can I apply for SIV adjustment of status and asylum at the same time?
Yes. However, you should talk with an immigration attorney about your specific situation.
How long does the SIV adjustment of status process take?
It is not possible to estimate how long this process will take. In the past, average processing times for similar adjustment of status applicants have been between 6-12 months.