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Local attorney, volunteers helping Afghan families apply for visas

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Posted at 10:04 PM, Oct 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-08 23:11:59-04

PALM HARBOR, Fla. — When it comes to Daniela Carrion's latest clients, the stakes couldn't be higher.

"They're currently in a place where they're going to be tortured or killed," she said, "There isn't a day that doesn't go by where we don't get a text from somebody saying 'I need to get out now.'"

The Palm Harbor immigration attorney is working pro bono with a team of volunteers is helping 65 families trapped in Afghanistan, apply for visas.

"The only opportunity they have to get out is through something called 'humanitarian parole' and it's basically a temporary entry visa that allows them to come in for two years," she said.

And the process is rife with endless paperwork, hefty filing fees, and roadblocks created by the instability in Afghanistan.

"They have to prove that they have a valid passport and that they're able to travel now obviously that comes with caveats right now because obviously, Afghanistan doesn't have a consulate, and a lot of people don't have valid passports," she said.

But the slowdowns don't end there.

In order for these families to come here, the government requires that they be sponsored by someone in the states and because these folks often don't have family or friends here, that burden often falls to complete strangers.

"They need someone that is a resident or a U.S. citizen to financially sponsor them and sign a financial affidavit saying they would be willing to potentially house them and also that they have the means to help them if they were to become a public charge or suffer some type of homelessness," said Carrion.

It's a big ask. And so far they've been able to get it done for about half of the families they're working with, but they're hoping the community will step in for the rest who are still waiting.

"We've been reaching out to anybody that's been willing to sign the form, anybody that's willing to share their taxes with us and their confidential information and feels comfortable enough to do it, knowing that at the end of the day, this may just be their only opportunity for afghan families to get out," she said.

To learn how to qualify to be a sponsor or to donate some volunteer hours to Daniela's cause, you can contact her team at the Linesch Firm.