Colorado Refugee Services Program

Colorado welcomes Afghans

The State of Colorado is committed to providing the most accurate and up-to-date information we can. Below, you can find information and resources about and for Afghan people arriving in Colorado.

Frequently asked questions about Afghan arrivals

Note: This FAQ was updated on Oct. 25.

How can I help? 

You can be a part of ensuring that Colorado is prepared to welcome Afghan evacuees by donating to the Colorado Afghan Evacuee Support Fund, a statewide effort fiscally sponsored by the Rose Community Foundation. Donate here: bit.ly/COAfghanSupport.

Colorado’s resettlement agencies appreciate the outpouring of support from Coloradans. At this time, they are not able to accept additional in-kind donations. Cash, gift cards, and Amazon wish-list donations are the best way to provide support at this time. 

Which Afghans were evacuated? 

The Afghans who were prioritized for evacuation were individuals who served the U.S. government and U.S. contractors in our country’s efforts in Afghanistan, as well as other individuals who worked in supportive roles to further the mission of coalition forces in Afghanistan, including, but not limited to journalists, women’s rights activists and more. Their alignment with this mission has put their lives and the lives of their families at risk. 

What immigration status(es) will newly arriving Afghans have? 

Immigrant communities often have a variety of immigration statuses, and despite fleeing for similar reasons, Afghan evacuees may ultimately arrive as refugees, Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders, or humanitarian parolees. Immigration is a federally-managed process, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security serving as the lead agency. Additional information for Afghans can be found on the USCIS website.

Given the urgency of the situation in Afghanistan and the speed of the evacuation, we understand that the majority of individuals who have been evacuated will arrive in Colorado with a humanitarian parole status. Humanitarian parole allows for admission to the U.S. due to an emergency. As a result of the continuing resolution passed by Congress and signed by President Biden on September 30, 2021, humanitarian parolees are now eligible for the same types of programs and services available to refugees and other Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) eligible populations. 

In addition to humanitarian parolees, some individuals will ultimately arrive with SIV status, as refugees or SI or SQ parolees*. SIVs, refugees, humanitarian parolees, and SI and SQ parolees are all Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) eligible populations, so they will qualify for programs and services currently available for refugee populations, such as those coordinated by the Colorado Refugee Services Program (CRSP).

Are there unaccompanied minor children arriving in the U.S.?

There are reports of unaccompanied minor children among the evacuated Afghans. Unaccompanied Afghan youth entering the US as humanitarian parolees will enter the Unaccompanied Children's Program with the Office of Refugee Resettlement. These youth may enter Colorado’s Unaccompanied Refugee Minor (URM) program once their immigration status makes them eligible for the federal program.

How many Afghans are expected to arrive in Colorado? When will they arrive? 

Afghans have been the largest population arriving in Colorado for the last two years. The State of Colorado and its partners have experience working alongside Afghans as they rebuild their lives. 

Colorado typically resettles about 3% of the national total of new refugee arrivals.The estimates for the number of Afghan humanitarian parolees to enter the U.S. now range from 70,000-90,000. With this broad estimate, and based on previous resettlement patterns of Afghans nationally, the State of Colorado is still planning to serve between 1,000 and 2,000 individuals. 

The federal government is leading a staged process involving international ‘lily pad’ sites, two dedicated U.S. ports of entry and utilizing eight military bases domestically. The majority of evacuated Afghans are now at military bases in the U.S. for additional administrative processing. Starting the second week of October, Colorado began to see increased arrivals of Afghans as processing on bases was completed. Since Aug. 1, 2021, approximately 400 Afghans have arrived in Colorado as refugees, SIVs, or under humanitarian parole. These figures, provided by the Colorado Refugee Services Program, are point-in-time snapshots that are updated weekly by resettlement agencies and are subject to change. Sustained high levels of Afghan arrivals are anticipated through the end of 2021. 

Who is leading the federal government’s response? 

President Biden asked the Department of Homeland Security to lead the efforts. You can find out more about Operation Allies Welcome here.

Who is leading Colorado’s response? 

There is a strong and coordinated statewide response to ensure that Colorado is prepared to receive Afghan evacuees. The Office of New Americans, CRSP, and the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management are the lead partners developing the response under the guidance of the Unified Command Group. Colorado’s three refugee resettlement agencies — ECDC/African Community Center, International Rescue Committee, and Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains — will serve as frontline implementing partners in collaboration with additional local community agencies. 

What support is available for Afghans arriving here? 

All arriving Afghan evacuees will be eligible for initial services at resettlement agencies. The Department of State launched the Afghan Placement and Assistance (APA) program, which is an emergency case management program to provide initial relocation services for humanitarian parolees to mirror existing programs for refugees and SIVs. These initial services, coordinated through a cooperative agreement between resettlement agencies and the Department of State, are time-limited. These services include help with setting up housing and financial assistance. Most arrivals will be welcomed by one of the resettlement agencies. However, we may also see newcomers in Colorado arrive through self-directed means, usually because they have a relationship with someone (such as a veteran) in one of Colorado’s communities. These individuals should first seek assistance directly from the resettlement agency of their own choosing. Resettlement agency contact information and additional core service provider contact information is listed on the Core Programs & Services document, available in English, Dari, and Pashto

Services through partner agencies past the initial services are coordinated by CRSP. These partners include refugee resettlement agencies, schools and community health care centers. Learn more about the types of programs and services here and here. Afghans arriving as humanitarian parolees, refugees, SIVs, or other statuses that make them eligible for refugee services, will be eligible for the wrap-around services that CRSP provides. These individuals are also eligible to apply for other programs like food assistance or Medicaid. To better understand eligibility for a wide array of programs, refer to the benefit eligibility for Afghan evacuees resource.

What medical screening or health support is in place for new Afghan arrivals? 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides medical screening guidance to ensure the health and safety of Afghans and the American public. CDC has established guidance for medical screening for SIVs and humanitarian parolees. Both populations will receive a routine screening exam at U.S. military bases. Screening includes: 1) age-appropriate vaccines (including MMR, IPV), 2) COVID-19 vaccination and test; 3) screening for tuberculosis and 4) as needed, disbursement of medically-indicated prescriptions (such as heart medications) in a thirty-day supply (or as directed by a physician). 

The state of Colorado and partners are working closely to ensure newcomers are connected to healthcare and mental health services. 

How is national security being prioritized and maintained as Afghans enter the U.S.?

There is close coordination between key federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Defense, and the National Counterterrorism Center. Together, these entities are ensuring national security as they vet and welcome Afghan evacuees to the U.S. Learn more on the Operation Allies Welcome website

How is COVID-19 safety being maintained as Afghans arrive in the U.S.? 

All evacuees from Afghanistan are being tested for COVID-19 upon arrival into the U.S. and quarantine protocols are in place for anyone testing positive. COVID-19 vaccines (Johnson and Johnson) are provided at military bases in the U.S. The federal government has stated that a COVID-19 vaccination is required to maintain humanitarian parole status. 


*SI is “Nationals of Iraq or Afghanistan serving as interpreters with the U.S. Armed Forces” 
SQ is “Certain Iraqis or Afghans employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government.”

Welcome packet for Afghan arrivals

This welcome packet is intended to provide Colorado's Afghan newcomers with many resources that they will need. It is available in several languages:

Afghan evacuee overview and benefits eligibility

Explore this resource to learn more about the immigration statuses of arriving Afghan evacuees and their eligibility for a variety of federal, state, and local programs. It is available in several languages:

Core programs and services: A guide for Afghan humanitarian populations

This list of resources, which is intended for Afghan people arriving in Colorado, provides contact information for resettlement agencies, county human services agencies and other key programs. It is available in several languages:

Workforce Centers webinar on Dec. 6
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The State of Colorado and Workforce Centers are hosting a webinar to share with Afghan individuals the resources and services provided at the Workforce Centers. You will hear from Workforce Center managers about how to find a job, how to transfer your employment skills to Colorado, and how to access funding to help you pay for training programs, including commercial driver licenses (CDLs) and healthcare careers. This flyer highlights some of the services provided (it is also available in Pashto and Dari). Please join us to learn more.

When: Dec. 6 at 2 p.m. We will have translation for Pashto and Dari. 

Registration: Participants need to register in advance for this meeting. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Community stakeholder town hall

The Colorado Refugee Services Program, the state Office of New Americans, and Rep. Jason Crow co-hosted a community stakeholder town hall on Sept. 20 about the State's response to welcoming Afghans to Colorado. View the recording below.

Colorado Afghan Evacuee Support Fund

The Colorado Afghan Evacuee Support Fund, fiscally sponsored by Rose Community Foundation, works to ensure that Colorado is prepared to welcome Afghan evacuees and connect them with community resources. Learn more about the fund and how you can support it.

Colorado Refugee Services Program header image

Welcome to the Colorado Refugee Services Program (CRSP). Our mission is to ensure the effective resettlement of refugees and to promote refugee advancement past self-sufficiency and to long-term integration. Colorado has a long history of leadership and support for refugee resettlement. Whether you are a refugee, asylee, community partner, or an interested individual looking for a way to connect, we hope to provide you with the resources you need.

About refugees in Colorado

Refugees come to Colorado from many countries and bring an array of skills, backgrounds and life experiences. Our refugee neighbors share the common aspiration of finding safety and security and opportunities to establish themselves and their families in new communities.

The following reports and data provide information about the communities resettling in Colorado and show how newcomers are integrating and contributing to our state.

Reports about refugees in Colorado
 Economic and Fiscal Impact of Refugees in Colorado

This statewide study demonstrates the economic benefit from resettling refugees in Colorado.

 

 Colorado refugee economic impact snapshot (infographic)

This infographic summarizes some of the findings from the above report.

 

 Refugee Integration and Survey Evaluation (RISE)

This nationally recognized longitudinal study explores refugee integration over a five-year period.

Data about refugees in Colorado

CRSP collects data on refugee and other eligible populations statewide. Data collected includes key demographics such as national origin, age, and gender, alongside data on employment placement and ESL attendance. Browse and download this data below. View this glossary for a definition of terms.

 

Current refugee research

In partnership with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), CRSP manages the Colorado Centers of Excellence in Refugee Health. This Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded program collects and analyzes refugee medical screening data from seven states and health indicators from the medical screening clinics in Colorado. The main program goals are to protect public health and improve the health of refugees. Future results will be published on this site.

Learn more about the Colorado Centers of Excellence in Refugee Health on their website.

Services for refugees

CRSP funds a diverse network of service providers to support the effective resettlement and integration of refugees and other eligible populations in Colorado. Visit the Office of Refugee Resettlement's website for a complete list of all eligible populations. This infographic shows the types of programs and services that CRSP funds. All CRSP-funded programs and services are listed in greater detail below.

Just granted asylum? Watch this video to learn about available programs and services and reach out to your nearest resettlement agency to enroll.

Resettlement agencies photo
Resettlement agencies

Resettlement agencies support refugees and other eligible populations to integrate into the community. Services include securing initial housing, job search and placement, case management, access to public benefits, referrals to other services. Psychosocial support, women’s empowerment, financial literacy, and legal help are also available.

 

List of providers

 

ESL services photo
English as a Second Language

The Colorado Refugee Services Program invests in English as a Second Language (ESL) classes because building linguistic and cultural skills are key drivers of integration and economic self-sufficiency. ESL classes are available in many locations and include instruction for all levels. Contact the individual providers in the list below for class schedules and registration information.

 

List of providers

Metro Denver

Northern Colorado

Colorado Springs

Career planning photo
Career pathway planning

The CAREERS Program prepares refugees and other eligible populations for employment in fields with growth potential. This program has options for skilled professionals to return to prior professions or launch a new career, as well as options for individuals who are working in entry-level positions who want to establish a career with growth opportunities.

 

List of providers

Health and wellness
Health and wellness

Services include initial medical screening, connection to primary care, health education, case management, and navigation to improve access to health services and promote health literacy.  Collaboration with Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Health Care Policy and Financing support medical screening processes, refugee health surveillance, and Refugee Medical Assistance administration.

 

List of providers

Youth services
Youth services

Programs for youth support our two-generation approach and provide holistic programming tailored to the needs and interests of youth. Youth programs utilize a positive youth development framework and incorporate educational and career-focused programming. Our partners’ programs are designed to support youth across the state, and include both in-person and remote options. 

 

List of providers

Elder and other support services
Elder and other services

Programs for elders and additional groups support our two-generation approach and provide holistic programming tailored to the needs and interests of these groups. Elder services support elders’ overall wellbeing through exercise, social bridging, and educational activities. Other providers support our communities with service navigation and educational workshops to build towards long-term integration.

 

List of providers

Elder services

Other support services

Connect

Colorado Refugee Connect is an initiative collaboratively led by Colorado’s three resettlement agencies in partnership with CRSP. Colorado Refugee Connect helps grow connections between refugees and our receiving community members in the following ways.

 Learn

Watch refugee 101 videos to understand the resettlement process. Explore curated lists of books, movies and websites to build your knowledge.

 Engage

Search a statewide directory of refugee-serving organizations to access programs or volunteer. Request a speaker from the Colorado Refugee Speakers Bureau.

 Celebrate

Attend an upcoming event to learn more about and celebrate our refugee neighbors. Submit an event to further build connections across communities.

About us

The Colorado Refugee Services Program (CRSP) is a program of the Colorado Department of Human Services and is responsible for the statewide coordination of refugee resettlement under the authority of the Refugee Act of 1980. 

CRSP does not offer any direct services but instead works through a constellation of contracts and partners to achieve our goals. Our services and programs support refugees and the larger receiving community working together to build the social capital necessary to sustain a welcoming environment for refugees and build a stronger Colorado for us all. 

Our mission: Ensure the effective resettlement of refugees and promote refugee advancement past self-sufficiency and to long-term integration.

Our vision: Refugees are safe, healthy, and prepared to achieve their greatest aspirations.

Contact us

Contact the Colorado Refugee Services Program at 303.863.8211 or crsp@state.co.us.