February 20, 2014

Attorney Kulen was a speaker at a seminar that was organized by American Ahıskan Turkish Society (AATS) and Ohio Turkish American Society (OTAS) on January 17th. Mr. Kulen started his presentation with a brief introduction about the history of Meskhetian Immigration to the U.S. that dates back to 2004. Meskhetian Turks are Turkish people who formerly resided in the region of Meskheti, Georgia, near the border of Turkey. Since the World War II, Meskhetian Turks have been deported from their hometown Meskheti, often times facing violence and hostility in their host countries. Ever since their deportation, the very few of Meskhetian Turks have been able to return to their hometown in Georgia. The U.S. has recognized that this ethnic group has been marginalized over the course of history and designated refugee status for the urgent need for resettlement due to compelling security concerns in their country. Therefore in February 2004, it introduced a resettlement program for Meskhetian Turks in Krasnodar Krai, Russia. This program allowed Meskhetian Turks to immigrate to the U.S. and eventually become American citizens. There were 22,000 Meskhetian Turks that have applied to the program as refugees, 12,000 were accepted by the U.S. government. This program has officially ended.

Mr. Kulen addressed current issues of Meskhetian Turks such as becoming a U.S. citizen, petitioning for a relative, and applying for permanent residence. He touched upon the types of visas that are available to the relatives of American citizens and permanent residents. Many Meskhetian Turks have become U.S. citizens in the course of 9 years. However, today they are more concerned with being able to reunite with their families who are left behind. Guests at the seminar were happy to find answers to their questions.

As a means of appreciation, Cumali Habibov, the president of AATS, presented a plaque to Mr. Kulen at the end of the seminar.