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Finding Legal Assistance

If you need legal advice about an immigration matter but cannot afford to hire an attorney, you may be able to ask an attorney, an association of immigration lawyers, a state bar association, or an organization specially -accredited to provide such assistance about the availability of free or reduced cost legal services on immigration issues.

Recognized Organizations and Accredited Representatives
You may be able to get free or low-cost legal assistance or advice from immigrant support groups and other community service organizations in your area. The Board of Immigration Appeals, a part of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), keeps the nationwide list of officially recognized organizations and their accredited representatives. The Board determines which organizations and representatives may represent an individual in proceedings before the INS, the immigration courts, and the Board. Only these organizations and representatives are officially able to represent individuals in immigration matters before the INS, along with attorneys who are admitted to practice law before a state bar, some law students, and certain other individuals (see 8 CFR 292.1). There are two lists that you can consult: There is the list arranged alphabetically by name of the organization, and another list arranged alphabetically by name of the individual accredited representative. Unfortunately, no version of this list, arranged alphabetically by state, has yet been created.

Free Legal Providers
The Office of the Chief Immigration Judge, another part of EOIR, also maintains a list (organized by state) of recognized Free Legal Service Providers for persons who are in immigration proceedings. This is a list of attorneys and organizations who may be willing to represent aliens in immigration proceedings while before the Immigration Courts, including assisting aliens who are seeking asylum while in immigration proceedings. The attorneys and organizations on this list have indicated their willingness to assist individuals on a pro bono (free of charge) basis in immigration proceedings only, so some of them may not be able to help you with non-court related matters (i.e., visa petitions, naturalization, etc.). If you are applying for asylum with the INS, you may check with these attorneys and organizations to see if they will assist you with your application.

Please be sure to verify any practice limitations before calling them. Please note that some states do not yet have Free Legal Service Providers recognized by EOIR.

Pro Bono Program
Local lists of recognized "pro bono" (free of charge) organizations and their representatives are usually available at each INS field office.

Last Modified 07/18/2002