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Home / Blog / For World Refugee Day, PALA Trained Attorneys
July 11, 2022

For World Refugee Day, PALA Trained Attorneys

By Jenine Saleh

Human Rights First’s, Project: Afghan Legal Assistance (PALA) honored World Refugee Day by working with our partners Welcome.US and Welcome Legal Alliance to host two legal clinics. These clinics helped over 75 volunteer attorneys serve 75 Afghan clients.

On June 23, we hosted a clinic to support Afghans in the U.S. who were employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government and applying to receive lawful permanent status through the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program.   After Chief of Mission (COM) verifies that an Afghan provided “faithful and valuable service to the U.S. government,” that applicant may file an I-360 to notify the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for approval for their SIV. 

People who attended the clinic saw a training video, An Overview of the I-360 Process, and worked with sample applications, templates, and checklists for the submission process.  The event helped 18 volunteer attorneys successfully submit 15 different I-360 applications for Afghans looking to start new lives in the relative safety of the United States.  

Overall, Human Rights First estimates that over 20,000 principal applicants still need support to submit immigration filings to USCIS in the next three months, demonstrating the need for clinics like these.

The following day, PALA hosted another clinic, this time on Legal Screening of Afghan Evacuees. Altogether, PALA has received over 3,000 requests for legal assistance from Afghans in the United States. As placing cases with the right pro bono counsel is critical to successfully pursuing such cases, this clinic focused on identifying all viable forms of immigration relief for PALA clients. 

The clinic trained participants in how to identify if an Afghan refugee is eligible for any of the following immigration benefits: Special Immigrant Visas; Asylum; Family-based petitions (I-130); Special Immigrant Juvenile Status; U Visa; Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) relief, and employment-based visas. Attendees were provided with a training video on screenings that detailed the online screening form and focused on the many different types of immigration relief available to qualifying Afghans. At this clinic, 57 volunteer attorneys helped to successfully screen over 60 Afghan refugees.   

PALA and Human Rights First owe a debt of thanks to all those who attended these clinics and our partners Welcome.US and the Welcome Legal Alliance. Welcome.US is a national initiative built to inspire, mobilize, and empower Americans from all corners of the country to welcome and support refugees resettled in the United States. The Welcome Legal Alliance brings together legal aid organizations with attorneys, law firms, and legal teams to connect pro bono attorneys with Afghan evacuees.

With their help, our clients are one step closer to receiving permanent status in the United States and can now petition for their immediate family members still in Afghanistan to be brought to the United States. 

If you are a licensed attorney and would like to volunteer with PALA, please contact [email protected]