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Fulbright Program for Citizens of Afghanistan 2018 – 2019

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Government. The Fulbright Program in Afghanistan is currently one of the largest Fulbright Programs in the world. It is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of Afghanistan.

The Fulbright Program provides participants – chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential – with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. Fulbright, the most widely recognized and prestigious international exchange program in the world, actively seeks out individuals of achievement and potential who represent the full diversity of their respective societies and selects nominees through open, merit-based competitions.

The following Fulbright Programs fund graduate study in the United States for a Master’s or a Ph.D. degree:

Fulbright Foreign Students Master’s Program

Fulbright Foreign Students Doctoral Program

Fulbright Selection Process for the 2018-2019

The current Fulbright Program application season starts on November 24, 2016 and closes February 28, 2017. Please see the following links for more detailed information about the two Fulbright programs available and the eligibility criteria.

Update: The Embassy implements a requirement for all applicants to possess an official TOEFL internet-based test (iBT) score. All applicants will need to score above 75 for Master’s degrees and above 80 for Ph.D. programs on the TOEFL iBT to be selected as a Fulbright scholar.

Stage 1: Technical Eligibility Review

For the complete Fulbright Scholarship Program Selection Criteria, please click here. An applicant may be considered technically eligible for consideration as a Fulbright candidate if he or she meets the following minimum requirements:

– Completed a four-year Bachelor’s Degree, or a three-year Bachelor’s Degree with one additional year of undergraduate or graduate studies in a related field completed before February 28, 2017.
– Has an official TOEFL iBT test score of at least 75 for the Master’s program, or 80 for the Ph.D. program.
– Holds Afghan citizenship.
– Does not hold U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residency.
– Maintains a permanent residence in Afghanistan (if currently living abroad, the applicant must be able to demonstrate his/her intent to return to Afghanistan after the Fulbright program).
– Does not have a pending application to immigrate to any country.

The following persons are ineligible for grants during and for a period ending one year following the termination of such employment, association, or service:

a. Employees of U.S. missions abroad who work for the U.S. Department of State or the U.S. Agency for International Development. This provision includes all employees, paid or unpaid (including part-time or temporary employees, consultants, externs, fellows and contract employees). This provision does not apply to interns;

b. Board members or staff of a Fulbright Commission;

c. Officers of an organization, in the United States or abroad, including members of boards of trustees or similar governing bodies, and individuals otherwise associated with the organization, wherein the organization and the individuals are responsible for nominating or selecting individuals for participation in any exchange program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs;

d. Immediate families (spouses and dependent children) of individuals described in paragraphs a-c. This provision does not disqualify self-supporting children who live apart from their parents;

e. For purposes of this section, the one-year period of ineligibility is calculated from the date of termination of employment, service, or association until the due date for submission of applications for programs under this chapter.

Application Requirements

Interested applicants must submit a complete application by February 28, 2017 at 11:59 PM (Kabul local time). The complete application package must be attached in one single e-mail message to KabulScholarshipInfo@state.gov

One Word editable version of the application;
Three letters of recommendation from the applicant’s professors and/or employers (two from professors and one from an employer is recommended)
Two application essays (a Personal Statement and Study Research Objectives) ; and
One PDF file that includes the entire application and the aforementioned supporting documents.
Additional Requirement for the PhD Program: Applicants must

Have completed a Master’s degree by February 28, 2017; and
Submit a professional writing sample (10-15 pages, in the anticipated field of study).

Stage 2: Application Review and Interview Selection

The application materials of any applicant who is found technically eligible will then be thoroughly reviewed by a review panel from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. The panel will evaluate and rank applicants on the following areas:

Quality of Academic Proposal and Relevance of Proposed Study to Achieving Professional Goals
Demonstrated Leadership Qualities and Leadership Potential
Volunteer Experience and/or Community Involvement
Work Experience
Educational Experience
Writing Ability and Content
Commitment to Helping Afghanistan
TOEFL iBT Score
Those who receive the highest ratings on this review will be invited to the interview phase.

Stage 3: Interview and Essay

Applicants who are found technically eligible and who pass the application review phase will be invited to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul for an interview, and to write an additional essay.

Interview: During the interview (20-40 minutes), applicants will be asked detailed questions about their proposed course of academic study, motivations for study in the United States, experience and qualifications, and will be evaluated on their English speaking and comprehension, as well as their ability to speak clearly, broadly, and intelligently on the following main topics:

The Applicant’s Goals (Professional, Academic, and Personal);
How the Fulbright experience will support the applicant’s goals;
How the applicant’s Fulbright experience will help Afghanistan;
How the applicant’s prior experience has prepared him/her for Fulbright.
Essay: While at the Embassy before the interview, the applicant will be asked to write a short essay on a topic chosen on the day of the interview. The applicant will have 40 minutes to complete this handwritten essay, without the help of English assistance tools. The interview panel will review the essay for English writing ability and for content.

Stage 4: Finalist Fulbright Candidate Selection

All applicants will then be ranked by the total scores they received during the Application Review, Interview, and Essay stages. The highest ranked applicants for the Master’s program and the top ranked PhD applicants will be nominated by the U.S. Embassy as finalist candidates. The Embassy will choose 10-15 alternate candidates. Finalist and alternate candidates will be notified of their status at this stage. Nomination as a finalist does not guarantee that a candidate will be accepted at a U.S. university or participate in the Fulbright program. A candidate may also be dropped at any time for failure to fulfill the requirements of the program or for failure to be admitted to a U.S. university.

Stage 5: Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and TOEFL Testing

Once notified, finalists and alternates will be required to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) in order to be admitted into a U.S. university. If the applicant is unable to achieve a high enough score on the exam, he/she may be unable to gain acceptance at a U.S. university. The Embassy will offer finalists and alternates a voucher to take the exam free of charge at the Kabul Educational Advising Center in Kabul, Herat, or Mazar-e-Sharif. Finalists and alternates will also receive one voucher to re-take the TOEFL test for free in order to achieve a higher score and help their chances of being accepted into a U.S. university. Applicants will have to take the GRE in August-September 2017, and will have the opportunity to re-take the TOEFL test by December 2017.

Stage 6: University Placement

The Institute of International Education (IIE) – the U.S. Embassy’s implementing partner for the Fulbright program – will submit applications to U.S. universities on behalf of the Fulbright finalists and alternates. Fulbright candidates must not apply to universities on their own, and must notify the Embassy about any prior contact they have had with a U.S. university. IIE selects universities that offer academic programs that match the candidate’s study objectives and academic preferences. Fulbright candidates who have higher TOEFL and GRE scores and better academic records are more likely to be accepted to a university. The minimum TOEFL scores are often insufficient to gain acceptance at many well-known universities in the United States.

Stage 7: Visa Interview

In order to participate in the Fulbright program, all Fulbright finalists must qualify for a non-immigrant visa by attending an in-person, scheduled interview. The Public Affairs Section has no influence on the decision of the Consular Section. At this stage, an applicant will be disqualified from the Fulbright program if he/she is found ineligible for a non-immigrant J1 (exchange visitor) visa. Common factors that would make a person ineligible for a visa include, but are not limited to: fraud or misrepresentation, current or past applications for an immigrant visa, previous violations of U.S. visa or immigration law, prior criminal acts, terrorist affiliation, violations of drug or alcohol-related laws, and past or current drug use.

Stage 8: Study at a U.S. University as a Fulbright Student

Once a Fulbright finalist candidate is issued his/her visa, he/she can travel to the United States to begin his/her studies. At that point, he/she officially becomes a Fulbright student, or a “Fulbrighter.” Fulbright Master’s programs typically last 1-2 years, while Ph.D. programs last 5 years. Fulbrighters are typically issued multiple-entry visas, so they may return to Afghanistan (at their own expense) during school breaks. The initial flight to the United States and the return flight to Afghanistan at the conclusion of the study program are covered under the Fulbright grant award. The Fulbright grant also includes orientation and enrichment seminars designed to enhance the Fulbright student’s academic experience and understanding of U.S. society and culture.

Stage 9: Return to Afghanistan and Make a Difference

Once a Fulbrighter earns his/her degree, he/she must return to Afghanistan for a period of at least two years. Applicants unable to fulfill this requirement will be considered ineligible for the Fulbright program. Once a Fulbrighter returns to Afghanistan, he/she officially becomes a Fulbright Alumnus/a, and is invited to Embassy events and activities that are only open to Fulbrighters and other exchange program alumni. Fulbrighters are strongly encouraged to use their new skills and knowledge to become successful leaders in their institutions and to implement improvements and innovations in their professional field. Fulbrighters are also encouraged to share their experiences with friends, family, and colleagues in order to expand the positive impact of the program on Afghanistan.

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