Legal Services Department

IRAP’s Legal Services Department represents refugees and other displaced people around the world who seek protection and safety, whether through resettlement, family reunification, or other humanitarian pathways to safety. 

IRAP’s Intake & Legal Information team provides legal information and counselling to displaced people and, along with our Jordan and Lebanon offices, screens for cases that stand to benefit from full legal representation through partner referrals and an automated chatbot. Our attorneys, caseworkers, and legal assistants —in collaboration with our pro bono partners and student chapters—then advocate and litigate on behalf of clients to ensure that they are able to access available legal protections under domestic and international law, including refugee protection, special immigrant visas, asylum, family-based immigration, and other humanitarian pathways. All of our Legal Services teams  work closely with partner NGOs and international and community based organizations that work directly with displaced populations on the ground to identify individuals and new refugee populations in need of our services and to address our clients’ urgent humanitarian and protection needs.

Through our high volume legal services, we identify patterns of injustice that our clients face. While our Legal Services teams work to navigate these obstacles to help our clients achieve their goals, our Policy and Litigation Departments pursue strategies to address the patterns of injustice themselves. We pride ourselves in providing legal services that are culturally sensitive, responsive and of exceptional quality to underserved communities around the world. Our teams are dedicated to advocating for a more robust set of rights for our clients and to ensuring that the experience of exercising those rights is one of dignity and agency.

Achievements

  • Since 2010, IRAP has provided legal aid to more than 30,000 individuals from over 70 countries.
  • Our legal staff have trained over 1,200 students from 29 law schools in the United States and Canada and pro bono attorneys from over 95 international law firms and multinational corporations to assist refugees and displaced people on urgent resettlement cases, visa applications, and family reunifications.

Client Story

Ghulam’s case came to IRAP under the most tragic circumstances. He had been working as an interpreter for two contractors with the U.S. military in Afghanistan and, as a result, he and his family became targets of the Taliban. Under constant threat and harassment, Ghulam applied for a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) in 2014, but when the long wait for a visa continued to endanger his life, the family was forced to flee to Turkey and attempted to cross the sea from Turkey to Greece. During the crossing, the boat capsized and Ghulam’s wife and two of his children disappeared into the water. They have been missing ever since. In this moment of immense tragedy, Ghulam contacted IRAP for help. IRAP helped to obtain the necessary documentation to bolster Ghulam’s SIV application by reaching out to former supervisors and personnel who could confirm his employment history with the U.S. government. In October 2018, Ghulam and his son, the two remaining members of the family, were resettled to safety in the United States.

A former client, Ghulam, poses with his son and a Statue of Liberty and Minnie Mouse character in Times Square in New York City. Ghulam and his son wear a souvenir Statue of Liberty crown, and the son holds the Statue's torch while draped in a U.S. flag.