Yael Ben Tov

  • Hosted by International Refugee Assistance Project
  • Sponsored by Paul Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
  • Service location New York, New York
  • Law school Yeshiva University Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
  • Issue area Immigrant Populations
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Yael’s project protected the rights of refugees to be safely reunited with their families through lawsuits seeking prompt adjudication of delayed Follow-to Join (FTJ) applications, community outreach, and systemic advocacy.

During the difficult, sometimes chaotic flight to safety, refugee families are often separated and unable to travel together. Acknowledging this reality, the FTJ process was created as an immigration pathway specifically for refugee and asylum family reunification. Processing standstills kept thousands of refugee families separated for years, often living in precarious conditions as they waited to reunify. The COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated these delays. As the backlog grows, follow-to-join refugees need systemic advocacy efforts to enforce their right to be reunited with their families in the United States.

Yael’s family history drives her desire to build a career assisting immigrants and refugees as they face an increasingly complex and hostile immigration system.

Fellowship Highlights

During the two-year Fellowship, Yael:

  • Litigated in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland on behalf of two Sudanese refugees, now resettled in the Baltimore area, who waited years to be reunified with their families
  • Investigated processing delays through the Freedom of Information Act and other litigation
  • Contributed to a public report and published a summary describing the causes of follow-to-join delay and making recommendations for addressing those delays
  • Developed further litigation strategies to reunify refugees who were separated from their families
  • Expanded advocacy and litigation to address security vetting inefficiencies that contributed to delays
  • Coordinated with pro bono and organizational partners to support litigation addressing delayed FTJ petitions and reunify refugees with their families


Opinion: I’m a Sudanese refugee. This Father’s Day, all I want is to be reunited with my family.

Sudanese Refugees File Suit Over Delayed Reunification Apps

'No child should be away from their mom': Trump policies make it nearly impossible for refugees to come to US

As a grandchild of Holocaust survivors, I feel deeply committed to using my law degree to assist those who are fleeing persecution in my own lifetime.

Yael Ben Tov /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

Meet Other Fellows Like Yael

View All

Photo of Tim Sanders Szabo

Timothy Sanders

Host: Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota

Sponsor: 3M Company, Faegre Baker Daniels

Photo of Pete Weiss

Peter Weiss

Host: Pangea Legal Services

Sponsor: Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company, The City of San Jose

Photo of Lydia Sinkus

Lydia Sinkus

Host: OneJustice

Sponsor: Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, PayPal

Photo of Lauren DesRosiers

Lauren DesRosiers

Host: New York City Anti-Violence Project

Sponsor: Bloomberg Philanthropies, Proskauer Rose LLP