Any US Citizen Can Now Sponsor Afghan Refugees

October 25, 2021Hannah Ray Lambert

Afghan women converse on benches Oct. 20, 2021, at Fort Lee, Virginia. Around 53,000 Afghans are currently housed at eight military bases while they await resettlement. US Army photo by Spc. Ruby Torres.

The State Department unveiled a program Monday, Oct. 25, that allows individuals and community groups to sponsor Afghan refugees currently on US military bases. The program is aimed at speeding up the process of resettling those immigrants in towns across the country.

Dubbed the Sponsor Circle Program, the initiative is a major change to how the US government is approaching resettlement, which traditionally relies on private relocation agencies and nonprofits. However, the rapid arrival of so many Afghans has left those agencies — many of which are used to dealing with dozens of or just a few hundred immigrants each year — scrambling to find affordable housing for tens of thousands of evacuees. 

Notably for many military veterans who have sought to bring one-time Afghan colleagues to the US, the program will allow individual Americans to sponsor refugees they already know.

A Department of Homeland Security spokesperson told Coffee or Die Magazine that 76,600 evacuees have arrived in the United States since Aug. 17, a number that includes those who fled during the massive airlift from Kabul in August. Though that figure includes some US citizens and permanent residents, about 68,000 are believed to be overwhelmingly Afghan nationals. But those now in the US fall into several categories under immigration rules, according to the DHS.

afghan sponsor
A State Department employee says goodbye to Afghan refugees as they leave Camp Liya, Kosovo, Oct. 16, 2021, bound for the United States. US Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Gloria Kamencik.

Many were in the process of applying for a Special Immigrant Visa or already held a visa. Others are family members of American citizens. Still others, such as journalists and human rights activists, worked in capacities that put them at risk of Taliban retaliation.

As of this week, about 15,000 Afghans have found at least temporary civilian housing around the US, while 53,000 remain housed at one of eight military bases around the country, undergoing medical screening and working through immigration paperwork while they await resettlement options. 

That backlog is what the new Sponsor Circle Program hopes to relieve.

The program will allow groups of at least five adults to form a support system for refugees arriving in their communities, according to the program’s website. The “circles” would commit to helping Afghans secure housing, basic necessities, health care, legal assistance, and other services for at least 90 days.

The Biden administration is partnering with Community Sponsorship Hub, a project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors Inc., to launch the new program. CSH will manage applications from prospective sponsors who must pass background checks, complete online training, and commit to raising at least $2,275 per refugee they bring in. CSH will then connect approved sponsors with Afghan families.

Read Next: Escape From Kabul: An Afghan Couple’s Odyssey in Search of Freedom

Hannah Ray Lambert
Hannah Ray Lambert

Hannah Ray Lambert is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die who previously covered everything from murder trials to high school trap shooting teams. She spent several months getting tear gassed during the 2020-2021 civil unrest in Portland, Oregon. When she’s not working, Hannah enjoys hiking, reading, and talking about authors and books on her podcast Between Lewis and Lovecraft.

More from Coffee or Die Magazine
US Launches Airstrikes in Syria After Drone Kills US Worker

While it’s not the first time the U.S. and Iran have traded airstrikes in Syria, the attack and the ...

March 24, 2023Associated Press
The Gift jason dunham
‘The Gift’ Explores the Life and Legacy of Medal of Honor Recipient Jason Dunham

"The Gift" tells the story of the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor after the Vietnam War. ...

March 24, 2023Mac Caltrider
uss milius
US Denies Chinese Claim It Drove Away American Destroyer

The U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet said that a statement from China's Southern Theatre Command that it had fo...

March 23, 2023Associated Press
The Speed Project: Vet Team To Run in Lawless, Invite-Only Ultramarathon

For the first time, a team of (mostly) US veterans and active-duty service members will run in The S...

March 23, 2023Jenna Biter
uranium-based ammo ammunition Ukraine UK depleted uranium
A Look At the Uranium-Based Ammo the UK Will Send to Ukraine

The British defense ministry on Monday confirmed it would provide Ukraine with armor-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium.

March 23, 2023Associated Press
Zaporizhzhia Ukraine Russia
Ukraine: Russia Hits Apartments and Dorm, Killing Civilians

“Russia is shelling the city with bestial savagery,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote in a Telegr...

March 22, 2023Associated Press
cold brew coffee soda float
The Bitter Barista's Cold Brew Coffee Soda Float

Today, we combine the best of both worlds with this indulgent recipe, smashing together our love of coffee and ice cream with a cold brew coffee soda float!

March 21, 2023Heather Lynn
abrams tanks ukraine
US Speeds Up Abrams Tank Delivery to Ukraine War Zone

The original plan was to send Ukraine 31 of the newer M1A2 Abrams, which could have taken a year or ...

March 21, 2023Associated Press
  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
  • Request a Correction
  • Write for Us
  • General Inquiries
© 2023 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved