Afghan Humanitarian Crisis: Policy & Legal Pathways to Resettle High-Risk Afghans (808M)

Client: American University of Afghanistan (AUAF). The fall of the Afghan government to the Taliban in August 2021 has created an urgent crisis for millions of Afghans. Those at particularly high risk of Taliban attacks and reprisals include women and girls, ethnic and religious minority groups, human rights advocates, journalists, and individuals who worked with or on behalf of the United States during the 20-year war in Afghanistan. The U.S. government was able to evacuate some of these individuals and their families, but hundreds of thousands more remain in Afghanistan, and many are seeking any opportunity for safe passage out of the country. They include thousands of staff members, former students, and other affiliates of the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF), a U.S.-funded institution in Kabul that has provided educational opportunities to thousands of graduates. The U.S. government has pledged to continue to support vulnerable Afghans who want to leave the country, but the situation remains highly uncertain. Afghans are eligible for humanitarian parole, a temporary status that could allow them to come to the United States. However, few Afghans have been granted this status. Other avenues for legal immigration, such as the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) process, have also faced substantial delays. The U.S. government will need to look for new and creative policy solutions to address the ongoing refugee crisis in Afghanistan. Students in this policy lab will advise AUAF in its efforts to pursue legal and policy options to support its students, alumni, staff, and affiliated families who are seeking to evacuate the country. Student researchers will track bottlenecks and other challenges in processing humanitarian parole, visas, asylum, and refugee applications. Research includes understanding the roles of U.S. government agencies, tracking updates to U.S. government policy regarding Afghan refugees, and proposing avenues for additional legal and policy advocacy that could help Afghans seeking to come to the United States. Students will gain experience with laws and policies related to immigration and refugees and leverage their research to improve the U.S. government’s overall policy approach to the refugee crisis in Afghanistan. This experience will culminate in a policy brief and presentation for AUAF (Winter) and in a full report for U.S. policymakers (Spring) about potential policy and legal pathways to resettle Afghan refugees in the United States. This policy lab welcomes all students with a strong interest in immigrant and refugee rights. A background in law, public policy, political science, Central Asian studies, or human rights would be useful, but is not necessary. Dari, Pashto, or Farsi language capabilities are a bonus, but are also not necessary. We are also looking for students with experience in design thinking for social innovations. Students from the School of Law, Department of Political Science, Public Policy Program, Program in International Relations, Freeman Spogli Institute, Design School, Middle Eastern Language Program, are encouraged to apply. After the term begins, and with the consent of the instructor, students accepted into the course may transfer from section 01 (2 units) into section 02 (3 units), which meets the R requirement. Elements used in grading: Attendance, Performance, Class Participation and Written Assignments. CONSENT APPLICATION: To apply for this course, students must complete and submit a Consent Application Form available at See Consent Application Form for instructions and submission deadline.

Course Catalog
Consent of Instructor – Application Portal

Pro Bono Opportunity

The Policy Lab is offered in tandem with the Afghan Scholars Project pro bono program, where attorneys, law students, and non-law volunteers assist American University of Afghanistan scholars to apply for Humanitarian Parole. To volunteer with the pro bono program, sign up here.



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