SAH Signs Joint Statement in Support of Afghan Scholars and Students

Feb 3, 2022 by SAH News

The Society of Architectural Historians has signed a joint statement from the Middle East Studies Association, the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies, and Scholars at Risk in support of Afghan scholars and students. The statement appears on the MESA website and is copied below.

Urgent appeal to US President Biden, Secretary of State Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Mayorkas, seeking immediate action to enable the safe and speedy relocation of Afghanistan’s students and scholars in the United States

Dear President Biden, Secretary Blinken and Secretary Mayorkas,

As members of the United States higher education community, we urge you to take immediate action to enable the safe and speedy relocation of Afghanistan’s students and scholars, many of whom represent the best and brightest of the country’s young generation.

American universities, liberal arts colleges, and scholarly associations have mobilized to provide a number of fully-funded opportunities for these Afghans to pursue their education, research, and scholarship in the United States. Afghan students and scholars will be valuable contributors to our higher education sector in the U.S., bringing with them enormous intellectual resources and capacity for knowledge production and our institutions are eager to welcome them. The State Department has demonstrated great leadership working within the existing limits of visa law as part of its larger effort to attend to the displacement crisis that followed the Afghan government’s collapse in August 2021. But these visa categories do not meet current needs.

Unfortunately, the existing admission pathways into the United States for students and scholars, namely F and J nonimmigrant visas, are not available to many Afghans who face challenges overcoming the statutory bar to immigrant intent for such nonimmigrant visa categories.  Specifically, many are not in a position to show proof of a residence abroad to which they intend to return. We urge that you create a dedicated visa category for Afghan scholars and students to be admitted to the United States. We also request that the intent-to-return and home residency requirements for existing visa categories be waived for the foreseeable future in the case of Afghan applicants. In addition to the Department of State adopting the most favorable interpretation of eligibility for J and F visas, we also request that the Department of Homeland Security expedite processing of humanitarian parole for Afghan scholars and students who can show full offers of study, research or work in the United States with a host university, college or association. These invitations demonstrate a time-sensitive national interest in hosting these individuals and further demonstrate that they are at no risk of becoming a public charge. If these specific suggestions are for any reason impractical it is imperative that you find other solutions to achieve the same objective.

We understand that the National Security Council is leading an interagency process to consider these and other options for these Afghan students and scholars to enroll in U.S. institutions. As the spring semester commences, we strongly encourage the White House to seize this moment and open a pathway for them to return to school and productive academic careers. Their achievements, many of them young women and members of minority groups, reflect their remarkable efforts and courage as well as the investment the American people made in Afghanistan’s future. We must create space for them to continue their work and contribute to our public intellectual life in the process. Please help facilitate access to our colleges and universities for the many Afghan scholars and students who deserve our continued support and investment.

Thank you.



Middle East Studies Association

American Institute of Afghanistan Studies

Scholars at Risk


The following ACLS member organizations have cosigned this statement:


American Anthropological Association

American Historical Association

American Philosophical Association

American Political Science Association

American Society of Comparative Law

American Society of International Law

American Society of Overseas Research

American Society for Environmental History

American Society for Theatre Research

American Sociological Association

American Studies Association

Archaeological Institute of America

Association for Asian Studies

Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies

College Art Association

Dance Studies Association

German Studies Association

Law and Society Association

Medieval Academy of America Officers

Society of Architectural Historians

Society for Ethnomusicology

World History Association


The following universities, colleges, associations, centers, networks, and societies have also co-signed through their institutional leadership:

  1. Esther D. Brimmer, Executive Director & CEO, NAFSA: Association of International Educators, DC
  2. Executive Committee, The Central Eurasian Studies Society, Cambridge, MA
  3. Isiaah Crawford, President, University of Puget Sound, WA
  4. Darla K. Deardorff, Executive Director, The Association for International Education Administrators
  5. Deborah Dwork, Director, Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity; The Graduate Center–CUNY, NY
  6. Damian Fernandez, President, Eckerd College, FL
  7. Becky Johnson, Interim President, Oregon State University, OR
  8. Karin Karlekar Director, Free Expression at Risk Programs, PEN America, NY
  9. Ellen Kennedy, Executive Director, World Without Genocide at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, Minnesota
  10. Cynthia K. Larive, Chancellor, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA
  11. Joanne Li, Chancellor, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Nebraska
  12. Arien Mack, Director, New University in Exile Consortium, NY
  13. Michelle Metro-Roland, President, West & Mid-Michigan Fulbright Association Chapter, Western Michigan University, Michigan
  14. Kirk Peterson, President, Chowan University, NC
  15. Rob Quinn, Founding Executive Director, Scholars at Risk Network
  16. Julie Schmid, Executive Director, American Association of University Professors, DC
  17. Kelly Shannon, Executive Director of the Peace, Justice, & Human Rights Initiative at Florida Atlantic University, Florida
  18. Jack Simony, Chairman, The Negotiation Institute, New York
  19. Eric Spina, President, University of Dayton, Ohio
  20. Gabriel Twose, Senior International Affairs Officer, American Psychological Association
  21. John Ulrich, Provost and Senior VP for Academic Affairs, Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania