Call for support toward a legal pathway for Afghan Fulbright Scholars in the U.S.

Editor’s Introduction

Yet again, the United States is failing to meet its moral obligations to Afghans. In this case the 2022 cohort of Afghan Fulbright scholars. Having completed their academic programs in the US, they are, as outlined in their letter to the Dept. of State, posted here, in legal and economic limbo.  How is it possible that time after time we leave so many in such perilous circumstances? We cannot let this stand.

The GCPE urges you to call upon the White House, your elected officials, the Department of  State, the IIE, and relevant NGOs such as the Association of American University Presidents to take steps toward overcoming the plight of this cohort of Afghan scholars. Read their letter carefully and act reflectively.  (BAR, 2/4/23)

Call for support toward a legal pathway for Afghan Fulbright Scholars in the U.S.

Afghan Fulbright Scholars
2021/2022 Cohorts

January 13, 2023

Attn: Mary Kirk
Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs (BECA)
U.S. Department of State

Re: Call for support toward a legal pathway for Afghan Fulbright Scholars in the U.S.

Dear Madam,

In the wake of recent political upheavals and regime change in the ides of August 2021, Afghan Fulbright scholars (2020 and 2021 cohorts), hereinafter referred to as ‘our/us,’ are facing an uncertain future here in the United States given that our visas have already expired and that Post Degree Academic Training (PDAT), besides being a short time work permit, does not ensure a decent employment to manage our dependents’ subsistence. Moreover, many students have completed their PDAT and are left alone without any financial and legal support. Although we reached out to the IIE advisors several times, their vague and largely conjectural responses have left us in a conundrum. They either do not have information or do not intend to update us on what the U.S. Government plans in terms of facilitating a legal pathway for a long-term stay.

Afghan Fulbright scholars of our cohort are among the brightest minds from Afghanistan all of whom set foot in the U.S. more than 16 months ago, with a clear vision and plans for themselves and their country. Coming to the U.S. and being a part of the Fulbright program has been among the biggest honor of our lives and will be the limelight of our academic and professional careers. However, not returning to Afghanistan was not our choice, but merely a reason to stay alive. We lost our country to a group that has not hesitated to harm anyone associated with the U.S., with Fulbright Scholars coming at the top of the list.

As we are coping with the loss of our homeland, it is even harder to think about the uncertainty of our future. We all are grateful to the Fulbright program, and the Department of State, for generously facilitating the visas and travel of our immediate family members to the U.S. However, as we are approaching the end of this academic journey, we find our backs against the wall, with no certainty for our future in the U.S. This uncertainty has severely affected our mental well-being, thus affecting our motivation for the final and the most crucial semester.

Considering the unique situation that we have been in, we had been expecting to hear from Fulbright about the long-term plan regarding our future and a permanent solution, which we, unfortunately, have not yet. Our future, our professional careers, and the future of our family members depend on the support of Fulbright, which could help with determining a permanent solution and starting a new life in the U.S.

We respectfully request you consider our concerns and support us in this hard time by addressing the above-mentioned issue.

We look forward to hearing back.

Kind regards,
Afghan Fulbright Scholars, 2020 & 2021 Cohorts

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