Grant Sovern Explains Significance of Federal Extension on Immigration Application Deadline for Afghan Refugees in WPR Story

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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced recently that Afghan refugees admitted to the U.S. in 2021 under humanitarian parole status now will receive an extension on their window to apply for more permanent immigration status. A Wisconsin Public Radio article about the extension included insight from Grant Sovern, the Madison-based chair of Quarles & Brady’s Immigration and Mobility Practice Group.

Sovern, who has been one of the leaders of a statewide effort by the Wisconsin legal community to provide pro bono immigration services to Afghans who came to Wisconsin after the U.S. military’s evacuation of Afghanistan, talked about the significance of this latest DHS decision. An excerpt:

Grant Sovern is an immigration attorney at Quarles & Brady in Madison and is on the board of directors for the Community Immigration Law Center. He said the extension was "desperately needed" and immigration advocacy groups like his have been urging officials to take some kind of action.

"Almost all of the families who have come in with this status are working now, and that's the only support they have for their families," Sovern said. "The real concern was that they were going to run out of their authorization to work in the U.S., which would be terrible for the families and terrible for the employers who employ them."

He said there's a network of around 150 volunteer attorneys working to help the roughly 800 Afghans now living in Wisconsin. As the clock has ticked down on people's parole status, Sovern said these lawyers have been trying to help residents apply for temporary protected status or file other paperwork so they can legally remain working. And now that parolees can apply for an extension, Sovern said they're already gearing up to help people fill out the new applications.

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