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How to find a free immigration lawyer and low-cost legal help

It is important to get legal advice when applying for an immigration benefit or if you are detained. Many organizations offer free or low-cost legal help with an immigration lawyer or accredited representative. Learn how to find trustworthy help and how you can represent yourself.

Updated January 24, 2024

What is legal help?

Legal help is advice about laws and representation in court. Lawyers, attorneys, and accredited representatives can offer legal help. In the USA, the terms lawyer and attorney are often used in the same way.

Lawyers specialize in different areas such as personal injury, criminal law, real estate, and family matters. This page focuses on immigration help but also offers a few resources for other legal needs.

Pro bono is work done by a lawyer for free. It is legal help 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 United States 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 and find an interpreter
  • Get updates and decisions on your case
  • Improve your chances of winning your case
  • Appeal a decision

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. There are not always enough immigration lawyers available for every case. It can sometimes take a while to find the right help.

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. You will be provided a list of free or low-cost legal services you can contact.    

There are other situations, beyond immigration, where having a lawyer is important. This can include family law matters, employment or housing issues, criminal cases, understanding legal documents and contracts, problems getting public benefits, personal injury claims, and starting a business.  

Who can give me legal help? 

The following professionals can give legal advice and services in immigration and citizenship cases: 

  • Immigration lawyer or attorney: 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.  
  • DOJ-accredited representative: 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? 

If you are looking for help with an immigration case, make sure to talk to a lawyer who is experienced in immigration law. A lawyer who does not specialize in immigration law may not give you the right advice. 

Also, be aware that 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:

For an accredited representative:

  • Ask to see proof of accreditation
  • Check if they are on the DOJ’s list

Additional tips:

  • Research options and reach out to more than one attorney
  • Ask if they offer a free consultation
  • Ask questions about the type of cases they work on and the services offered
  • Ask for the full fee schedule and required payments before starting 
  • Take time to review any contract or agreement before signing
  • Ask if they have a sliding fee scale to help with costs
A sliding fee scale means the cost of a lawyer’s service depends on your income. The less money you make at your job, the less you pay for legal help.

Avoid scams and be careful of anyone who:

  • Reaches out to you first
  • Offers things that sound too good to be true
  • Makes guarantees or promises benefits
  • Offers legal services in exchange for a favor
  • Refuses to set up a contract or agreement
  • Tries to keep your original documents
  • Charges for blank immigration forms
lawyer reviewing information
Avoid immigration scams

Know how to protect yourself from notarios and fake websites. Learn what to do if you have been a victim of fraud.

Learn more

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. You can also ask people you trust for recommendations.

Resource
Help
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
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

If you are looking for legal help outside the USA, find information on our international help page.

FindHello app Houston search map
Find help near you

Find legal help, English classes, health clinics, housing support, and more. Search a local map and list of services for immigrants in the USA with the app FindHello.

Start your search

How can I get help if I am representing myself?

If you are representing yourself in immigration court, there are resources to help you.

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.”

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. 

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 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 LawHelp.org, the National Immigrant Justice Center, the Department of Justice, UNHCR, and other trusted sources. We aim to offer easy to understand information that is updated regularly. This information is not legal advice.

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