Afghan Immigration

By Jack, Lisa, Rachel, Gareth, and Salomon

Afghanistan National Anthem:

Definition of immigrant:
An immigrant is a person who moves his or her residence to another country.

How To Immigrate In order to immigrate to America, one must first obtain a visa. A visa will allow you to present yourself to an immigration officer at the US border for entry into the country. A visa can be classified in various ways such as immigrant, tourist, student, and other things. It is usually valid for multiple visits to the United States during a specific period of time. A visa does not necessarily guarantee entrance into the US. A visa is issued by a Department of State Consular Office abroad, but admittance can be denied by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The two major types of visas are the immigrant and nonimmigrant visas.
In order to get a visa you must get an application from a nearby US Embassy. The US embassy or Consulate will be in the capital town of the home country. The specific division of the Embassy needed is the consular division. Here is where you get the application, and you can get any information that you need for the application process.Keep in mind that a visa will only keep you in the country for a short amount of time. For a permanent residence you will need to obtain a "green card".

There are various ways to be eligible for a green card. You can be eligible through family, employment, the green card lottery, investment, adoption, registry, private bill, diplomats, asylum, refugee, or special immigrants. To get a green card, you must first obtain a visa, and I hope we all know how to do that by now. The three easiest ways to get a green card are getting your employer to sponsor you, using the lottery system, or marrying a citizen.

The most involved way is getting your employer to sponsor you, but basically all that you have to do is get your employer to petition the Department ogreen.pngf Labor for a labor certification. If Department of Labor declines your petitions, your application stops here. If it grants it, then you must file an Immigrant Petition. This petition is filed with the INS, and it is relatively simple and easy to fill out. The third and final step is adjusting your status. You again send an application to the INS. if it is approved, the rest of the process is essentially automatic, and you are now a citizen.

The easiest way is to enter the Diversity Immigrant Lottery. Each year approximately 50,000 green cards are issued to foreigners chosen randomly from a computer program. Every fall there is a one month period where you can send in your application to the Department of State. The applications sent in are entered into the computer program which picks who gets to come to America. Although this is easy, it is very unlikely as over 8,000,000 people apply for those 50,000 spots.

The last way, and most simple way, is just to marry a citizen. If you can't find any other way just marry a local, and it doens't even matter who. That's it, you're in. Although there are some restrictions, they are usually easy to get around.
Bloemraad, Irene. Becoming a Citizen: Incorporating Immigrants and Refugees in the United States and Canada. University of California P, 2006.

Why are the Afghans in the United States, and all over the world?

The story of Afghan immigration to the United States really begins in Arabia in the 7th century A.D. During this time, the prophet Muhammad founded the religion known as Islam, the second largest religion on Earth. Shortly after his death, Arab Muslims began to spread Muhammad's teachings, and eventually conquered Afghanistan (then known as Khorasan) in the 7th to 9th centuries. From that point on, almost all Afghans were Muslims.

From the Arab invasion to the early 18th century, what is now known as Afghanistan changed hands between many powerful empires, including Genghis Khan, the Timurids, and the Mughals. However, in the early 18th century, King Nadir Shah of Persia invaded the region of Afghanistan. After his death, his lieutenant Ahmad Khan Saduzay, an Afghan tribal leader, united all the Pashtuns in what is now known as Afghanistan, establishing the Durrani dynasty until 1818. However, Afghanistan wasn't really known as Afghanistan until the 1880s, and wasn't fully independent from foreign powers until 1919. Shortly after this, Afghani immigration to the United States first began.

In 1920, 200 upper class, wealthy Pashtuns from both Afghanistan and what is now Pakistan settled in the United States. These were the first Afghani immigrants to the United States.

In 1956, the Russian premier Nikita Khruschev and the Warsaw Pact government of Bulgaria agreed to help Afghanistan, forming a good relationship between Afghanistan and the USSR.

By 1959, women began to enter universities and the workforce as the Purdah became optional.

In 1964, Afghanistan became a parliamentary democracy, although they still had Zahir Shah as their king. The next year, Babrak Karmal and several others founded the Afghanistan Communist Party.

In 1973, Daoud Khan launched a coup, overthrowing the King and establishing a democracy in Afghanistan. He is then voted in as the first president, an act that annoyed the U.S.S.R. This began the period, which continues to this day, of Afghan immigration being less and less based on studying in America and the upper class and more and more based on getting out of Afghanistan, surviving and the lower class. In 1978, in a reaction to Daoud Khan's coup, a Soviet Union backed coup overthrew the government of Daoud Khan and subsequently executed him, replacing the elected government with a Marxist government that was seen as pro-Soviet and anti-Islamic and Taraki becomes leader. In December of that year, the Mujahideen guerilla movement is born in Afghanistan. A year later, Taraki is overthrown by Hafizullah Amin, who is then overthrown by Babrak Karmal while the Soviet army marched into Afghanistan.

1979-1989: During this period, the Soviet Union sent the Red Army into Afghanistan. Afghan immigrants numbered 3,000,000 total in Pakistan, 250,000 total in Iran, and 2,000 to 4,000 per year to the United States. Eventually, the United States began funding the mujahideen, the fundamentalist Islamic guerilla movement that eventually drove the Russians out as the Soviet Union began to080428_taliban.jpg collapse in 1989. They left in 1989, but they left Afghanistan in a civil war.

1989-1996: Afghanistan fought a bloody civil war that ended up leaving the Taliban in charge in 1996.

1998: The Taliban massacre the Hazaras after capturing Mazar-i-Sharif.

2001: Responding to the September 11th terror attacks, the United States and her allies take out the Taliban government, but there is still much work to be done in Afghanistan.

Due to these many problems in current Afghanistan, the number of immigrants and refugees has gotten larger and larger, which helps create the issues of immigration that we face today.

Sources used:
- Eigo, Tim. "Afghan Americans - Overview, History, Modern era, The first afghans in America, significant immigration waves." Multicultural America. 10 Dec. 2008 <>.
- "Afghanistan History." World 66. World 66. 14 Dec. 2008 <>.
- "Afghanistan: History." Infoplease. 10 Dec. 2008 <>.

When in the US, where do Afghans settle?

Afghans have been immigrating into the United states as Early as the 1920’s. The first noted Afghan immigrants to America was a group of 200 Pashtuns. The early Afghan refugees were upper class and were well educated. When they made it into the United States the most common areas for settlement were California (with the largest groups settling in the LA-Orange County and San Francisco Bay Area), New York, Washington, D.C., and Virginia (mostly in cities close to Washington D.C., like Alexandria). 55 to 67 percent of Afghan immigrants over the years have ended up in San Francisco. When they settled here, they created strong Muslim communities held by these large Afghan populations. Smaller Afghan communities can be found in the Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Illinois, and Washington the state. Some people estimate that there are 80,000 Afghan immigrants in the US at the moment, but the real figure is said to be near 200,000. This large gap could be possibly be explained by illegal immigrants who would not be counted in official consensus. Based on recent surveys this figure of 200,000 seems to be an exaggeration.

In the 1980's, over 40,000 Afghan refugees came to America as the Soviet invasion was occurring. The choice of settlement for them was mostly large, common areas in America, previously stated. Some of these Afghans were officially refugees, some were granted political offenders, some were permitted because of a family unification program, and others came by illegal entry. Until 1989, when the Soviet Union called back its troops, 2,000 to 4,000 Afghan immigrants had been arriving in America each year.

Top Immigrated Cities and States by Afghans:

Map of top 100 US Cities with largest Afghan populations...

Top 10 US Cities with the largest Afghan populations...

What are some of the hardships that people endure when adjusting to America from Afghanistan?

Afghan refugees arriving in the United States are often shocked to find that they will not be living the American dream. Often, they arrive here not by choice, but rather by necessity, fleeing the wars of Afghanistan. Many, who were once middle- or high-class professionals in Afghanistan, have trouble finding work in the United States. They often lack in savings, social support, and ability to express them selves well in the English language. Afghans often feel alienated and this weakens their efforts for succeeding, though they are grateful to be in America, they still feel as though they are strangers.

Immigration for Afghans into the United States is a tough journey at best. This year other countries, such as Switzerland, have accepted thousands of Afghan immigrants into their borders. Compare this to the United States, which has only accepted a few hundred. Even so, immigration for Afghans is not a lost cause. Under certain conditions, Afghans can enter the US as Special Immigrants. An example of this is a translator for the Army, and this person would be protected by the National Defense Authorization Act. In order to immigrate they must file their petitions on form I-360. As stated by, this form is used “to apply for certain benefits granted to Amerasians, Widow(er)s, battered spouses or children of U.S. Citizens, or other special immigrants as defined in the form's instructions.”khattak_dance.jpg

Many Afghan Americans prefer not assimilate to the American society, but rather integrate. For Afghan it is important to be able to support their family and achieve at least some stability, while keeping all their cultural, religious, and traditional beliefs. They often live in communities with other Afghans because this is more familiar and makes the transition to American culture a little more bearable. They are often forced to settle in more violent and less expensive neighborhoods than they are accustomed too because of anti-immigrant feelings elsewhere.

Afghan Americans have made terrific progress since they began their immigration to America. They had to overcome many obstacles before they were able to immigrate here and achieve at least some success. Strong family ties brought them here, and even through financial stresses and other shortcomings, they have stayed strong, and they have kept, without alteration, their cultural and religious traditions.>>>> >>

Are there any Afghan organizations/support groups in America?

There are many Afghan support groups in America. Some of them include Afghan Community in America, Afghan Refugee Fund, Afghaimages-1.jpgn Relief Committee, Inc. (ARC), Afghanistan Council of the Asia Society, Afghanistan Studies Association (ASA), Aid for Afghan Refugees, Help the Afghan Children Inc. (HTAC), and Society of Afghan Engineers. These organizations have various supports which they provide to Afghan refugees. Several of these organizations work to supply medical, vocational, and schooling help. They also facilitate Afghans as they are settling in America by providing financial assistance. When an Afghan needs help due to the war in Afghanistan, several of these organizations are there for help. HTAC is an organization strictly for Afghan immigrants who are children. The others are not limited based on age. The main focus of a few of these support groups is actually to help transport Afghans to America. These organizations are extremely helpful to Afghans who immigrate to America as they make it easier on them to adjust to America.>>>>

How is this related to The Kite Runner?

The Kite Runner relates to the history of Afghanistan in many ways. These similarities began at nearly the beginning of the book, when Hassan is born in 1964. Hassan is the personification of innocence and good at the beginning of the book, and this coincides with Afghanistan becoming a parliamentary democracy, helping Afghanistan become more democratic. In 1975, Daoud Khan overthrew the King of Afghanistan and established a democracy—and while this was not necessarily a bad thing, one thing led to another and the Soviets eventually launched a coup against Daoud Khan. In 1975, Assef threatened Hassan and Amir—and while not too much happened at that confrontation, one thing led to another, and it ended in Assef raping Hassan while Amir watched. These two have grave consequences for Afghanistan, and the lives of Amir and Hassan. During the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Amir evacuates to America, showing the loss of the voice of the people in Afghanistan, just as Amir fled Afghanistan. In 2001, Amir returns to Afghanistan, finally allowing the Afghani people to once again have a say in their government and getting rid of the Taliban.

Biography on Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner

and how he relates himself to the text.


Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1965. His father was a diplomat with the Afghan Foreign Ministry and his mother taught Farsi and History at a large high school in Kabul. In 1976, the Afghan Foreign Ministry relocated the Hosseini family to Paris. They were ready to return to Kabul in 1980, but by then Afghanistan had already witnessed a bloody communist coup and the invasion of the Soviet army. The Hosseinis sought and were granted politic al asylum in the United States. In September of 1980, Hosseini's family moved to San Jose, California.

Hosseini graduated from high
school in 1984 and enrolled at Santa Clara University where he earned a bachelor's degree in Biology in 1988. The following year, he entered the University of California-San Diego's School of Medicine, where he earned a Medical Degree in 1993. He completed his residency at Cedars-Sinai H
ospital in Los Angeles. Hosseini was a practicing internist between 199
6 and 2004.

While in medical practice, Hosseini began writing his first novel, The Kite Runner, in March of 2001. In 2003, The Kite Runner, was published and has since become an international bestseller, published in 48 countries. In 2006 he was named a goodwill envoy to UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency. His second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns was published in May of 2007. Currently, A Thousand Splendid Suns is published in 25 countries. He lives in northern California.

Though The Kite Runner is a fiction novel, Khaled Hosseini adds many factors of his own life into the story. Both Hosseini and Amir, the protagonist of the novel, were born in Kabul, Afghanistan. After growing into young adolescents, both of their families moved out of the country. Amir left Afghanistan in order to leave the Soviet control of the country, and Khaled Hosseini's family chose not to return due to the same reason. Because of their immigration, both Amir and Hosseini ended up living in California.

A very important similarity between the lives of Amir and Khaled Hosseini is a story of a Hazara. When Hosseini was living in Iran, a man named Hossein Khan worked for the Hosseinis. Khaled Hosseini taught this 30-year-old man how to read and write. Hassan in The Kite Runner was also a Hazara who was unable to read or right throughout his childhood. When he was much older, he was taught how to read and write by Rahim Khan, another character in the novel.