NEW YORK – Zachary Kaye, a senior associate in Reed Smith’s Global Commercial Disputes Group, has helped secure Special Immigrant Visas for an Afghan national (with his wife and children) who formerly worked as a translator for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

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The 2009 Afghan Allies Protection Act allows certain Afghan nationals who were employed by the United States in Afghanistan to apply for visas permitting them to relocate to the U.S. But in this case, a process that was supposed to take just nine months took longer than 11 years.

The client served as a translator from 2007 to 2012, and he received effusive praise from individuals in the U.S. military with whom he worked. But, in the face of credible threats to his safety and that of his family, the client made the difficult decision to move to the United States.

In 2019 while at another law firm, Kaye began representing the client in conjunction with the International Refugee Assistance Project. Kaye and other lawyers spoke regularly with the client, gathered all needed information, completed all required forms, and with the help of a local lawyer, prepared the client for an interview at the U.S. Embassy. The interview complete, the client was set to be approved, but COVID froze all visa processing, and the client’s case was stalled for a year. Then, after the security situation in Afghanistan materially deteriorated, the client and his family were forced to flee for their safety to the Netherlands.

Kaye joined Reed Smith 15 months ago and continued representing the client through that period alongside colleagues from his former firm. Kaye wrote extensively to the U.S. Department of State, the Consulate in the Netherlands, government teams responsible for Afghan relocation, and elected representatives, urging them to address the client’s application.

This week, nearly 12 years after the client first applied for an immigrant visa, the client was notified this week that he, his wife, and his children will be issued visas allowing them to relocate to the United States. Kaye and his pro bono colleagues are working with the U.S. government and appropriate NGOs to help the client and his family settle into their new home. The client is thrilled, writing when he received word that his visa would be issued that, “Today is indeed the best day of my life.”