How many Afghans will arrive in Washington?

From 2010 to 2020, Washington state welcomed approximately 30,213 refugees, including 4,166 Afghan Special Immigrant Visa holders. Just this federal fiscal year, Washington has welcomed 348 people from Afghanistan between Oct. 1, 2020 and July 30, 2021. Over the past two to three years, Washington welcomed approximately 8% of the nation’s total Afghan SIV arrivals. The highest concentration of Afghan SIVs have arrived in King County, with some resettling in Pierce, Snohomish and Spokane counties.

Through Operation Allies Refuge, from July 29 – Sept. 30, 2021, Washington welcomed approximately 332 people from Afghanistan. As of Nov. 3, 2021 and over the last several weeks, Washington welcomed an additional 523 Afghans through Operation Allies Welcome. Most are being granted humanitarian parolee status and are coming direct from military bases. Washington will continue to receive individuals and families from Afghanistan through these programs.

As of November 2021, the U.S. Department of State has approved local refugee resettlement agencies in Washington to welcome 2,205 people out of the initial 37,000 people processed. The federal government anticipates needing to resettle more than 70,000 people through Operation Allies Welcome. Washington state is expected to be in the top five states to welcome Afghan arrivals. As we learn more about the expected number of arrivals, we will provide updates.

How will Afghan individuals and families arrive and resettle in Washington?

Afghans will be traveling from one of the eight Safe Haven military bases across the country.  While some may travel independently, the majority of Afghans will be resettled through our local refugee resettlement agencies.  Washington is home to five of the nine national resettlement agencies with offices located in Benton-Franklin, Clark, King, Pierce, Snohomish, Spokane and Whatcom counties. 

Below is a chart of the local refugee resettlement agencies that will be welcoming refugees in our local communities.

Welcoming County

Refugee Resettlement Agencies

Benton-Franklin Counties

World Relief - Richland

Clark County

Lutheran Community Services Northwest

Puget Sound Region

  • King County
  • Pierce County
  • Snohomish County

Diocese of Olympia

International Rescue Committee

Jewish Family Services

Lutheran Community Services Northwest

World Relief – Seattle

Spokane County

International Rescue Committee (new in federal fiscal year 2022)

World Relief – Spokane

Whatcom County

World Relief  (new in federal fiscal year 2022)


What immigration statuses will newly arriving Afghans be granted?

Afghans arriving in Washington state through U.S. Operation Allies Refuge will have multiple types of immigration statuses. Many will arrive with Special Immigrant Visa status that will become lawful permanent residency or a green card. People who have submitted but have been unable to complete their applications for Special Immigrant Visa status may be granted an SI/SQ parole immigration status with their SIV status pending. The highest concentration of individuals will be granted humanitarian parole status on a case-by-case basis. 

Humanitarian parole is a temporary immigration status designated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that allows an individual to enter the country due to an emergency humanitarian situation. The word parolee in this context bears no meaning to the way it is commonly used to refer to someone who was previously incarcerated. Afghan parolees will be allowed to apply for asylum and will be granted employment authorization.