Legal help is advice about laws and representation in court proceedings. Lawyers, attorneys, and accredited representatives can offer legal help.
|Pro bono is work done by a lawyer for free. It is usually offered to people with low income.|
Why is it important to get legal help?
You are not required to have a lawyer but the immigration process in the U.S. is complicated. An immigration lawyer can help you submit immigration forms and defend you in court. You have better chances with legal help.
An immigration lawyer can work to get you immigration benefits such as a green card, asylum, or citizenship. They can help you:
- Explore your options and next steps
- Understand the questions on your application and forms
- Avoid mistakes on your application that could get your case denied
- File your application and supporting documents
- Prepare for any interviews
- Find an interpreter
- Get updates and decisions on your case
- Appeal a decision
Immigrants who have legal aid (and who are not detained) are more likely to win their cases.
When should I get legal help?
You can get legal help at any time. If you are looking for help changing your immigration status, it is best to have someone review your application before you send it in.
It is important to get legal help if you are in removal proceedings in immigration court. The government does not assign free counsel to people in immigration proceedings.
There are other situations where having a lawyer is important, like problems getting public assistance or being evicted from your home. It is also best to get legal advice before signing any legal documents such as when buying land.
Who can give me legal help?
The following professionals can give legal advice and services in immigration and citizenship cases:
An immigration lawyer or attorney is licensed by a state bar association to offer legal help. An attorney has graduated from law school and has a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree.
A DOJ-accredited representative is an individual or nonprofit organization trained to provide immigration services and is accredited by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Both an immigration lawyer and a fully accredited representative can represent you before DHS, USCIS, EOIR (immigration court), and the BIA (immigration appeals). A partially accredited representative can only represent you before USCIS.
How can I find legal help that I can trust?
Some businesses pretend to offer reliable legal services to get money. There are some simple things you can do to protect yourself.
For an immigration lawyer:
- Ask to see a copy of their license
- Check if they are in good standing with State Bar Association and American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)
For DOJ-accredited representatives:
- Ask to see proof of accreditation
- Check if they are on the DOJ’s list
The Immigrant Legal Resource Center offers tips on how to avoid fraud when getting legal help.
Know how to protect yourself from notarios and fake websites. Learn what to do if you have been a victim of fraud.
Where can I find free or low-cost legal help?
You can find immigration lawyers and DOJ-accredited representatives who offer free or low-cost help through nonprofit organizations and immigration legal clinics.
Directory of immigration lawyers. Each may charge different fees depending on your case. Contact them directly to find out if they offer a free consultation
Becoming an ASAP member provides you with free access to expert immigration attorneys, other asylum seekers, and critical resources
Get connected with free, live, online legal help to support your citizenship process
Offers a list of pro bono legal service providers for each state
Online directory of nonprofit organizations offering free or low-cost immigration legal services. Search for legal help by state, zip code, detention facility, area of immigration, and types of services
Offers legal resources for LGBTQ+ and/or HIV-positive immigrant communities, including information about asylum and detention
Offers legal help for Afghan newcomers
Phone number for refugees and asylum seekers to speak to someone for help. Call 202-461-2356 or #566 from a detention facility phone
Find organizations and helplines if you or a loved one are detained or separated from family
Find legal help, English classes, healthcare, housing support, and more. Search with a map and list of services for immigrants in the USA.
How can I get help if I am representing myself?
If you are representing yourself in immigration court, there are resources to help you.
- Ask your local bar association, university, or resettlement agency about free legal workshops and clinics.
- ASAP lists organizations that offer legal help to asylum seekers who are representing themselves.
- The Florence Project has self-help resources for immigrants in detention.
- The DOJ offers self-help materials.
|Pro se is a term used when someone is representing themself in court and they do not have legal counsel. It is Latin for “on one’s own behalf.”|
Where can I find legal help for other needs?
There is legal help available in areas outside of immigration. Many legal aid offices offer free or low-cost help to people who have problems with consumer issues, family and domestic violence, housing, public benefits, and employment.
- The American Bar Association offers resources for finding free legal help.
- LawHelp.org has legal information guides and a list of free legal aid programs.
- Law Help Interactive has free guides on how to fill out legal forms.
What are my rights?
Everyone has the right to legal help. You will not be appointed a free lawyer in immigration court. It is your responsibility to get legal help. You will be given a list of free or low-cost legal service providers in immigration court.
You can file any complaints against your lawyer with their state bar or with the Executive Office for Immigration Review. You can change lawyers if your attorney is not explaining your options in immigration proceedings or is not submitting the required documentation. You or your new attorney can ask for a copy of your case file.
You should report immigration scams to USCIS, the Executive Office for Immigration Review, or the Federal Trade Commission.
The information on this page comes from trusted sources, including Lawhelp.org, National Immigrant Justice Center, UNHCR, and DOJ. We aim to offer information in plain language that is easy to understand and updated regularly. This page is for guidance. USAHello does not give legal advice, nor are any of our materials intended to be taken as legal advice.