Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley urged Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Mayorkas and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Jaddou to implement a blanket waiver on fees for Afghans applying for humanitarian parole to come to the United States. They, along with 25 other senators, also requested that the agencies issue guidance to provide clarity on the current status of these types of applications.
Afghans applying for humanitarian parole from outside of the United States must currently pay $575 to have their application processed by DHS. For many Afghans applying for this status, these costs are a prohibitive barrier in the application process.
“Given the extreme financial hardship and immediate danger facing Afghans fleeing to the United States, we urge you to implement a blanket waiver on fees for Afghans and their families when they apply for humanitarian parole into the United States, and we ask that you issue guidance for applicants and attorneys who are filing for this status,” the senators wrote.
The senators added, “The burden of application fees is weighing heavily on communities here in the United States. Families and friends of Afghans who are trying to apply for humanitarian parole are shouldering payments and are being forced to make difficult financial decisions.”
The letter also asked questions related to the number of Afghans who have applied for parole and how many have been granted waivers.
Last month, Wyden joined colleagues in asking President Biden to continue the safe relocation of Afghan refugees, parolees, evacuees, and Special Immigrant Visa applicants to the United States. Wyden and Merkley also joined colleagues in asking the administration to take specific steps to ensure that humanitarian aid can continue to reach the Afghan people.
Along with Wyden and Merkley, the letter led by U.S. Senators Alex Padilla, D-Calif. and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., was co-signed by Senators Thomas Carper, D-Del., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Edward Markey, D-Mass., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Cory Booker, D-N.J., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Patty Murray, D-Wash., Tina Smith, D-Minn, Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I, Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Christopher Coons, D-Del., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Tim Kaine, D-Va., Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., Robert Casey, D-Pa., Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo.