RK&O partners with IRAP in pro bono immigration case

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September 6, 2018

Through the hard work of RK&O associate Margaret Meyers and paralegal Christine Raymond, an RK&O pro bono client and her family, whose lives were threatened in Afghanistan, have obtained permission to move to the United States. 

Since November 2015, RK&O has represented Ms. A., an Afghan citizen seeking a Special Immigrant Visa to the United States because she faces serious ongoing threats in Afghanistan as a result of her work on behalf of the U.S. Government. Prior to our involvement, Ms. A. had submitted an application to the State Department’s National Visa Center (NVC) for Chief of Mission (COM) approval—the first step in the visa process. Her application for COM approval was initially denied. After RK&O got involved, we successfully appealed the denial on the ground that the NVC had applied the wrong standard to her application.

Because of the threats to their safety in Afghanistan while the appeal was pending, Ms. A., her husband and their three sons fled from Afghanistan to Turkey, where they were arrested and held in an immigration detention center for nine months. The RK&O team found a local Turkish lawyer who successfully secured their release from detention and a stay of the deportation order against them.

We subsequently prepared Ms. A’s visa application—a multi-step and convoluted process that involved the submission of numerous forms and supporting documents, an interview at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey and a comprehensive medical examination in Turkey. After three long years and many twists and turns, on August 27, 2018, our client and her family members’ visas were issued, entitling her to move to the United States with her family. We are now helping her apply for refugee benefits, which will help finance the cost of their plane tickets to the United States and provide them with basic services when they arrive here.

Margaret and Christine worked with the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) and were assisted by two recent graduates of NYU Law School. They were also supported by partners James Walker and Matthew Riccardi and Director of Finance, Gary Balsamo.