Name of Non-Profit Agency:
IRIS Legal Services Department*
Why is this assistance important to these clients?
Without this assistance, clients’ security to remain in the United States is in jeopardy and reunification with their families is thwarted.
Who are the clients?
Low income refugees and other displaced people. At the moment, we represent families and individuals who are or have been affiliated with IRIS.
What legal problem do these clients face?
Refugees and other displaced individuals need assistance with applications for lawful permanent residence status and naturalization to become United States citizens. They need assistance with family reunification - filing petitions for family members, such as spouses and children, to join them in the United States. In addition, refugees and other displaced persons need help with routine matters such as travel documents, replacement of lost cards, and delays in the application processes.
What legal strategies do the pro bono lawyers use to assist the clients?
IRIS pro bono attorneys represent clients before the USCIS and the Board of Immigration Appeals. Representation involves client interviews, investigation, research, preparation of applications, petitions, motions, appeals, USCIS client interviews, and administrative appeals.
If the pro bono attorney will be appearing for the client, in what court or other forum will that appearance be?
For adjustment of status, naturalization, and other routine matters, the Pro Bono Attorney will file an appearance with the USCIS.
What are the outcome goals of this assistance?
The goals are to advance the clients’ residence and citizenship status in the United States and to reunite families.
What time commitment is required to do this pro bono work?
Pro bono attorneys can assist with one-time research and writing projects and represent a client in a lawful permanent resident status application, naturalization application, or other routine matters.
Where is the pro bono work done? (For example, at a legal aid office or at the pro bono attorney's office.)
Depending on the type of case and the experience of the pro bono attorney, the work can be done at the pro bono attorney’s office or the IRIS office. For research and writing projects, the work can be done anywhere. If the advocate wishes to accompany a client to a naturalization interview, most of those interviews take place at USCIS Hartford.
Give a short (1-paragraph) case example:
IRIS refugee family members want to naturalize as United States Citizens. The pro bono attorney must interview family members and investigate whether there are any potential problems such as length of residence in the United States; insufficient ability to speak, write, and read English; difficulty with taking the civics test; parentage and legitimation issues; acquisition and derivative citizenship claims; criminal history; residency interruption; good moral character issues; etc.… Pro bono attorney will research and explore any impediments to naturalization; advise clients; prepare applications and file appearances; respond to any Requests for Further Evidence; attend the naturalization interview/tests at USCIS with clients; and consider appeal of any denial.
If no How are those without full admission supervised to ensure avoidance of issues regarding unlicensed practice?:
Research and writing projects do not require bar admission. Paraprofessionals may volunteer with IRIS under the supervision of the IRIS attorney.
If it is important that a pro bono lawyer already has particular legal background or training, please describe.
If a pro bono attorney has experience in immigration law, the pro bono attorney can accept the referred case and communicate with IRIS regularly. If the pro bono attorney does not have experience in immigration law, then the pro bono attorney will be supervised by the IRIS attorney.
What training is provided to pro bono lawyers doing this work?
IRIS staff and its roster of experienced immigration attorneys may provide training within each case. IRIS, through its national affiliates, may provide access to webinars and other training opportunities.
Who provides the training?
IRIS staff, IRIS core roster of experienced immigration attorneys, and IRIS’ national affiliates (Immigration Advocates Network, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Church World Service, among others) will provide training opportunities.
Where is the training held? How long does the training last?
Apart from the on-the-case training, the pro bono attorneys will have access to webinars and, perhaps, access to live training opportunities.
Who are the adverse parties (if any) for this type of work (for example, landlords, spouses, banks, government entities)?
Adverse parties include the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Executive Office of Immigration and Review (EOIR), and the Department of Justice (DOJ). The adjustment of status, citizenship, and routine matters comprise an administrative practice for the most part.
At what time of day is the pro bono work done (example evening clinic)?:
Most of the work will be done during business hours. At times, the Pro Bono Attorney will need to accommodate the clients’ work schedules and meet in the evenings or weekends.
Does this pro bono work require full admission to practice in Connecticut?
Pro bono attorney representation before the USCIS and EOIR/Immigration Court requires full admission to any state.
Can the training be attended remotely (webinar or teleconference)?