Founded in 1996 as a partnership between Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) and the University of Washington School of Law, the Immigrant Families Advocacy Project (IFAP) trains and matches law students with pro bono attorneys and immigrant survivors of domestic violence.
IFAP volunteers assist immigrants who are eligible to self-petition for legal permanent resident status under the Violence Against Women Act or petition for other types of relief as victims of criminal domestic violence (U-visas) or special immigrant juvenile status.
IFAP continues to be a cooperative effort between NWIRP and the UW Law School. After completing applications and attending mandatory training sessions, law students work in pairs with pro bono attorneys on cases that have been screened by NWIRP.
NWIRP provides the crucial support necessary for IFAP to function. Not only do the staff members of NWIRP’s Domestic Violence Unit play an instrumental role in organizing, conducting, and monitoring the mandatory law student trainings, they serve as resources for students and pro bono attorneys representing clients throughout the petitioning process.
Work and Accomplishments
IFAP volunteers assist immigrants who are eligible to self-petition under the Violence Against Women Act or petition for other types of relief as victims of criminal domestic violence (U-visas) or special immigrant juvenile status.
Since 2008*, IFAP has enabled women and children to leave abusive families without threat of deportation. Many more women have entered the visa application process and have started to gain financial independence after escaping lives under constant threat of physical violence.
IFAP has also provided first to third year law students the chance to gain experience in immigration law, domestic violence advocacy, and client interviewing and counseling. Law students involved with IFAP value the opportunity to provide direct legal services under the supervision of a practicing attorney. Through IFAP, many students interview and advise legal clients for the first time. Such exposure allows students to get an early start on becoming comfortable engaging clients, improving communication regarding sensitive issues, understanding the nuances of client confidentiality, and managing a case with students, pro bono attorneys, and other professionals.
*Note: While IFAP keeps yearly records of its caseload, it has recently revamped its case management system, so usable data exists from 2008 to the present.