Legal help is advice about laws and representation in court proceedings. Lawyers (attorneys) and accredited representatives can offer legal help.
|Pro bono is work that is 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 more chances for success 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 the decision
Research has shown immigrants who are not detained and have legal aid 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 with 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 you might need a lawyer who does not specialize in immigration. If you have problems getting public assistance or are being evicted from your home, a lawyer may be able to help.
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.
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 keep your 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 online with their State Bar Association and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).
For DOJ accredited representatives and organizations:
- Ask to see proof of their accredited representative status.
- Check if they are on the DOJ’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) list of accredited organizations and representatives.
The Immigrant Legal Resource Center offers tips on how to find an attorney or representative you can trust.
Where can I find free or low-cost legal help?
You can often find immigration lawyers and DOJ-accredited representatives who offer free or low-cost help through nonprofit organizations and immigration legal clinics.
Inside the United States
- A 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.
- Offers tips on finding a good immigration lawyer and other services.
- 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.
- Offers information about various immigration benefits and a list of non-profit legal organizations.
- Search for legal help by zip code and detention facility.
- Immigo is an app with legal information and resources. It is available on the Apple Store and Google Play.
- Online directory of nonprofit organizations that offer 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 a list of legal resources for people fleeing persecution due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
- A phone number for refugees and asylum seekers to call to speak to someone for help. Dial (202) 461-2356 or #566 from a detention facility phone.
- Search for legal in help your area.
|If you don’t qualify for free or low-cost help, you can find a licensed immigration lawyer with the American Immigration Lawyers Association.|
Outside the United States
- A directory of organizations offering free legal services around the world.
- List of resources for refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons for 89 countries.
How can I get help if I am representing myself?
If you are representing yourself in immigration court, there are resources to help you.
- Contact your local bar association and university about free legal workshops and self-help clinics near you.
- The Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project lists organizations that offer legal help to asylum seekers who represent themselves in immigration court.
- The Department of Justice 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 in each state.
- Law Help Interactive has free guides on how to fill out legal forms in each state.
|Before signing any legal document, such as purchasing land, it is best to get legal advice first.|
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.