Mohammad Sharif Khalil

Mohammad Khalil fled Afghanistan over 20 years ago because the Taliban was targeting him for his membership in the Northern Alliance. He first sought refuge in Germany.  He was still not safe, so he traveled to the U.S.  In March 2000, an Immigration Judge granted his asylum application.

Mr. Khalil applied for lawful permanent residence with USCIS in 2002 – just a few months after Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act.  USCIS denied his application after eight years by retroactively applying provisions of the PATRIOT Act and the REAL ID Act even though Mr. Khalil’s military training had not disqualified him for asylum.   Mr. Khalil filed a second application for lawful permanent residence, which USCIS again denied after another nine years. 

MLFA challenged USCIS’s delay and denial of Mr. Khalil’s application in federal district court.  The district court judge affirmed USCIS’s decision. MLFA appealed the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which noted in its decision affirming the district court’s ruling that the government’s position sends the message to U.S.-allied fighters that “the United States will betray you.” MLFA then filed a Writ of Certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the Court did not accept the case for oral argument.


Although USCIS denied Mr. Khalil’s second application in 2019, it issued a new policy in late 2022, essentially overcoming the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling by allowing a discretionary TRIG exemption to Afghan Allies who supported U.S. interests and/or participated in the resistance movement against the Taliban or the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.  

Unfortunately, Mr. Khalil passed away in February 2022 before he could pursue a third application for lawful permanent residence with a request for an exemption.


USCIS’s August 2022 policy change directly adopted the legal arguments MLFA made to the Supreme Court that US-supported allies who fought to protect America’s interests abroad were not providing material support to terrorism.