Are you in need of immigration advice and not sure where to start? You’re in luck! There are government-accredited organizations that provide free, reliable immigration counseling all over the country. By contacting one of these organizations you can find the information you need and even in some cases apply for their services. We’ve outlined some suggestions for finding trustworthy immigration advice below.
Before we dive into the list of free organizations, it’s important to note that there’s also the option to speak to an immigration attorney. In fact, this is a good recommended first step, if you have the funds available. You’ll just need to make sure that they are a licensed and accredited attorney, to avoid getting scammed.
What Does An Immigration Attorney Do?
An immigration attorney is empowered and accredited to represent someone before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). To do so, they need to meet the requirements listed below.
- Be a member in good standing of the bar of the highest court of -- any state, possession, territory, commonwealth, or the District of Columbia.
- Not under any order of any court suspending, enjoining, restraining, disbarring or otherwise restricting him or her in the practice of law.
- It is not essential that you have a license in the state or territory where you request their services.
Some of the tasks for which you can request the services of an immigration attorney include the following:
- Advise you on the type of documentation you’ll need to submit to the USCIS, depending on the process you want to complete.
- Guidance on your best immigration options. Options for this include obtaining citizenship, stopping a deportation, requesting asylum, among others.
- Lead communications with the USCIS about your case.
Keep in mind: In addition to licensed attorneys, there are DOJ-accredited representatives. Although these individuals are not attorneys, they are authorized to provide legal assistance in immigration matters and can represent you before immigration authorities. The only requirement is that they work for one of the organizations officially recognized by the government.
How Much Does An Immigration Attorney Cost?
Immigration attorney fees are not set by law, therefore, the cost of their services may vary depending on a variety of factors. This includes the state they are located in, the type of procedure they’re expected to manage, the type of contract they have with you. All these factors impact the cost of their services. The typical range for what they charge goes from between $100 to $500 dollars for a one hour consultation.
The most common immigration procedures include:
- Work permits
- Travel documentation
- Visa petition for relatives
- Extension/Change of immigration status
- Permanent residence or some other adjustment of status
- Asylum seeking
- Deportation defense
The costs for any of these procedures range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, so make sure you get a clear understanding up front on what the total cost will be. If the cost is a serious concern, you may want to look at some of the free immigration advice you can receive from the organizations listed below.
Keep in mind: If you can’t afford a private immigration attorney, you can find free immigration advice and services (also known as "pro bono" legal advice). That said, your eligibility for pro bono legal services is not a given. Whether or not you’ll get that support is determined by a variety of factors such as your household income, number of dependents and more.
Where To find Free Immigration Advice
There are hundreds of organizations that provide free immigration advice, but remember that before select one you’ll need to make sure it’s recognized by the DOJ's Office of Legal Access Programs (OLAP).
The vast majority of organizations recognized by the DOJ can provide you with free immigration advice and help you accomplish common procedures with the USCIS (work permits, residence, change of status, etc.).
However, keep in mind that there are some more specialized organizations that have focused in on serving a particular subset of immigrants, such as DACA recipients. We’ve started our list by outlining some of these organizations offering more targeted free immigration advice.
DACA: Free Immigration Advice for Dreamers
The following organizations have specialized in legal advice related to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
- United We Dream - This is the largest immigrant youth-led community in the country. Since their inception they have been dedicated to supporting DACA youth and offering legal services to stop deportations. Their phone number is 1-844-363-1423.
- My Undocumented Life - Available nationwide, this may be one of the best options for finding free immigration advice and resources.
- Immigrant Legal Resource Center - Among its priorities, the ILRC seeks to promote the rights of immigrants and offer advice for completing the DACA process.
- Make the Road New York - If you are located in the state of New York, do not hesitate to ask this organization for advice. They’ve been recognized for filing a national lawsuit against the Trump administration for its termination of the DACA program. Their number is (718) 418-7690.
Border Detention: Free Immigration Advice For Families
There are many organizations that specialize in providing free immigration advice for families detained at the border, the focus being mainly on preparing asylum requests:
- ABA’s Children’s Immigration Law Academy - Specialize in the legal representation of migrant children, located in Houston, Texas. To contact them you can call: (346) 444-2569.
- Human Rights Initiative of Northern Texas - Dedicated to providing assistance to migrant children separated from their parents at the border, based out of Dallas, Texas. The number to reach them is (214) 855-0520.
- Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services - Specialize in representing migrant children separated from their families, based out of El Paso, Texas. Their contact number is (915) 532-3975.
- Raíces - Provide low-cost or free immigration advice for underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees, located in San Antonio, Texas. Their number is 1-800-409-2893.
- Casa Cornelia Law Center - This organization's free immigration attorneys represent migrant children located in San Diego, California. You can reach them at: (619) 231-7788.
- Immigrant Defenders Law Center - Represent children who are in the process of deportation, with offices in various California counties. To contact them call this number: (213) 634-0999.
- Kids in Need of Defense - Known by its acronym ‘KIND’, they have offices in several states around the country, including Texas, California, Washington and New York. Their telephone number is (202) 824-8680.
- Tahirih Justice Center - Specialize in providing legal assistance to migrant women and girls, with offices in Baltimore, Houston, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. Their phone number is (571) 282-6161.
- National Immigration Justice Center - This organization has been providing free immigration advice for three decades, specializing in offering legal support to migrant parents who were separated from their children. To schedule an appointment call (312) 660-1370.
- Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights - This organization safeguards the rights of migrant children based in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Chicago, Houston and New York. Their number is (773) 360-8920.
Deportation Proceedings: Free Immigration Advice For Defendants
The following organizations provide free immigration counseling to people in deportation proceedings or who have already been deported:
- Al Otro Lado - Serves deported migrants who are in Tijuana and provides assistance in California (Los Angeles and San Diego). You can contact this organization by calling (664) 194-6209 or (664) 732-0303.
- Immigrant Justice Project of San Diego - Provides free immigration advice to low-income individuals who need to be represented in a court of appeals. They’re based in Southern California and their contact number is (619) 255-8810.
- American Immigrant Representation Project - Focused on providing free legal advice to detained immigrants. Based in Washington D.C., you can contact them at (202) 507-7500.
- Immigrant Justice Corps - Works to both empower new lawyers and advocates to join the immigration field and address the urgent need for legal services. Located in New York City, you can contact them at (212) 407-3417.
- The Kino Border Initiative - Advocate in the US and Mexico for policies that advance humane, just and workable migration. Located on the border between Arizona and Sonora and with offices in the cities of Nogales (in both countries), you can contact them at: (520) 287-2370.
- The Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project - Specialize in providing free immigration advice to women, men and children detained under threat of deportation. They have offices in Phoenix, Tucson and Florence - in the state of Arizona. Their contact numbers are: (520) 777-5600 (Tucson), (602) 307-1008 (Phoenix), (520) 868-0191 (Florence).
- Butterflies Without Borders - Dedicated to supporting LGBTQ migrants who are in detention. Their headquarters are in Tucson, Arizona.
- American Immigration Lawyers Association - This association helps you find free or low cost immigration lawyers, anywhere in the country.
Law Schools Offering Free Immigration Advice
In addition to the organizations listed above, you can seek free immigration advice from immigration clinics hosted by law schools of major universities in the United States. These include the following::
- Stanford Law School, in California. Contact them at: 650-723-2465
- The New York Law School, in New York City. Contact them at: 212-431-7910
- The University of Texas, in Austin, Texas. Contact them at: (512) 471-5151.
Keep in mind: Remember that one of the main reasons to seek free immigration counseling from these organizations is that they are accredited by the DOJ. This is in order to prevent possible issues from bogus legal advice. Therefore we ask that you always pay special attention to who you are reaching out to and always keep an eye out for any irregularities.
We hope this article has been helpful and that you’ve been able to find the right organization for your free immigration advice. Remember that the more informed you are, the better chance you have of ensuring a successful outcome. Don’t hesitate to contact more than one organization, don’t stop until you’ve found the information or support you need!