In recent weeks the United States initiated evacuations of Afghan citizens and nationals who are at-risk due to the current political instability in Afghanistan. California is doing its part to welcome these individuals and families into our communities.
“We welcome our new neighbors from Afghanistan with Open arms and are grateful for the many community-based organizations across the state who have stepped up to provide services with empathy and compassion.”
– Dr. Mark Ghaly
If seeking assistance to help a individual or family coming from Afghanistan, please see this list of resource to determine the most appropriate contact for the case or situation. These resources are also translated in Pashto and Farsi/Dari.
Overview of U.S. Refugee Resettlement
The U.S. Departments of Homeland Security (DHS), State and Health and Human Services (HHS) work together to uphold America’s humanitarian response to refugees through the U.S. Resettlement Program (USRP).
- Once the United Nations and U.S. embassies refer refugee cases for resettlement consideration, .U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers at DHS conduct individual interviews and clearances, and final determinations for admission.
- The State Department’s Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) coordinates admissions and allocations to specific cities and resettlement agencies, in conjunction with nine national voluntary agencies that oversee a network of some 250 affiliates in 49 states plus the District of Columbia through the Reception & Placement Program. When refugees arrive at their destination, these local affiliates greet them at the airport, help them with housing and access to other resources.
- From the date of arrival, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) at HHS provides short-term cash and medical assistance to new arrivals, as well as case management services, English as a Foreign Language classes, and job readiness and employment services – all designed to facilitate refugees’ successful transition in the U.S., and help them to attain self-sufficiency.
Learn more about federal programs and services for refugees, asylees and others.
Resources for County Partners
- California Department of Social Services issued an All County Welfare Directors Letter on August 30, 2021, Eligibility of Special Immigrant Parolees in SQ/SI Categories Under the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009 for Benefits and Services, related to eligibility for social services for Special Immigrant Parolees in SQ or SI.
- California Department of Social Services issued an All County Welfare Director Letter on September 3, 2021, Eligibility of Humanitarian Parolees from Afghanistan, related to eligibility for social services for humanitarian parolees.
- California Department of Health Care Services issued an Medi-Cal Eligibility Division Information Letter on September 3, 2021, Eligibility for New Afghan Arrivals, related to eligibility for Medi-Cal health benefits for Afghan arrivals.
Summary of Eligibility for Public Benefits
The below table summarizes eligibility for federal and state public benefits by immigration status. Please visit above links for details.
|Special Immigration Visa||Yes||Yes, CalFresh||Yes||Yes, only if SSA denies SSI app due to immigration status||Yes|
|Special Immigrant Parole with SI/SQ||Yes||Yes, CalFresh||Yes||Yes, only if SSA denies SSI app due to immigration status||Yes|
|Humanitarian Parole under 212(d)(5)
(less than 1 year)
|Yes (state funded)||Yes||Yes (state funded)|
|Humanitarian Parole under 212(d)(5)
(1 year or longer)
|No||Possible CalFresh or CFAP (see above county letter for details)||Yes (state funded)||Yes||Yes (state funded)|
Resources for Afghan Arrivals
We stand with newcomers from Afghanistan. Here is a list of opportunities to support organizations providing aid for Afghan families throughout California.
Afghans arriving as humanitarian parolees may need additional legal assistance in achieving asylum. Here is a list of Californian non-profit agencies that provide free immigration legal to Afghan newcomers who require assistance with re-licensure and/or re-credentialing applications should visit the expedited licensure process for more details.
For more information on how to access benefits and services from Resettlement Agencies (RA), please review this RA listing.
- 2-1-1 California is the statewide network of local 2-1-1 information and referral providers. It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and in 150 different languages.
- 2-1-1.org is a free and confidential service that helps people across North America find the local resources they need. They are available for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Benefits.gov portal provides information on available U.S. Government benefits and programs. Including cash, food, medical and other benefits available to help eligible low-income persons.
- Eldercare Locator is the first step to finding resources for older adults in any U.S. community (a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging).
- California Department of Health Care Services listing of all programs and services offered throughout the State of California.
- California Department of Public Health listing of all refugee health assessment program county clinics throughout the State of California.
- Survivors of Torture, International is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to caring for survivors of politically-motivated torture and their families who live in San Diego County which includes refugees and asylees.
- California HOPE (CalHOPE), a program run by the California Department of Health Care Services, provides safe, secure, and culturally sensitive emotional support. CalHOPE offers a call-line — (833) 317-HOPE (4673) — to talk about your struggles and get emotional support from someone who has persevered through tough situations.
- Housing Resources for Refugees – Resources Guide is information prepared by California’s Refugee Programs Bureau (RPB) and is being shared with you for informational purposes only. The sharing of this information does not constitute an endorsement, recommendation or favoring of the material, web sites or organizations. If you have any questions regarding the content of a specific organization referred in this material, please contact the originating agency/organization.
- California Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is funded by the Federal Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and provides two basic types of services. Eligible low-income persons, via local governmental and nonprofit organizations, can receive financial assistance to offset the costs of heating and/or cooling dwellings, and/or have their dwellings weatherized to make them more energy efficient.
- Department of Fair Employment and Housing has brochures and publications in various languages regarding discrimination.
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provides information on tenant rights and responsibilities, apartment locator, subsidized housing and public housing, etc.
English Language Learners
- USA Learns is a website that helps immigrants and other adults who have low levels of English proficiency with easily accessible and free English language training. See the USA Learns fact sheet for more information on this free internet tool.
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers a free copy of the Civics and Citizenship Toolkit to organizations that serve, or that are interested in serving refugees and immigrants. The toolkit includes immigration and civics publications, handbooks, multimedia tools and guidance on how to use these products to help legal permanent residents integrate into their local communities and American society. The USCIS provides “A Guide to Naturalization” web page for naturalization material and information. Also see their citizenship test preparation and USCIS’ immigration forms sections for more information on the naturalization process.
- USCIS’ E-Verify is an Internet-based system that compares information from an employee’s Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to data from U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records to confirm employment eligibility. The system provides results within as little as three to five seconds. The USCIS provides free webinars for employees and employers to learn more about the E-Verify system.
- Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)provides legal immigration services and publications, as well as technical assistance to promote refugee citizenship and civic participation.
- Tahirih Justice Center was founded in 1997 to address the acute need for legal services of immigrant and refugee women who have fled to the U.S. to seek protection from human rights abuses.
- National Immigration Forum builds public support for public policies that welcome immigrants and refugees and that are fair and supportive to newcomers in our country.
- National Immigration Law Center (NILC) is a national support center whose mission is to protect and promote the rights of refugees, asylees, immigrants and their families. Available on the NILC website is a table that provides an overview of immigrant eligibility for the major federal public assistance programs. Some states provide assistance to immigrants who are not eligible for federally funded services.
Other Resources & Information
- ORR Network Resources for connecting to other ORR partners and services.
- U.S. Committee for Refugee and Immigrants (USCRI) has gathered and produced extensive resources for refugees, immigrants and the people who support them. The Resource Library includes valuable tools for refugees, employers, lawyers, advocates and more. The online resource library has manuals, pamphlets, brochures, and more available on a variety of resettlement topics such as cultural orientation, financial literacy, health, family strengthening, etc.
- Be Prepared California for emergency preparedness information and resources.
- Corporation for National and Community Service’s Faith-based and Community Initiatives (FBCI) helps connect faith-based and other community groups to the Corporation, ensuring that these groups have the capacity, tools and volunteer power they need to help America’s communities flourish.
- National Crime Prevention Council provides domestic violence services to refugee communities.
- Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans provides graduate education scholarship opportunities to ‘New Americans’. The deadline for applications is November 1st of each year. Qualified applicants may write to the program office at 224 W 57th Street, New York, NY 10019 or may obtain information from their website.