Areas of Expertise

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) immigration attorneys’ expertise focuses on family-based immigration, humanitarian relief, naturalization and citizenship, immigration enforcement, and removal defense.

Since 1979 we have helped expand the immigration expertise of attorneys, nonprofit staff, criminal defenders, and others assisting immigrant clients.

In addition to authoring the ILRC’s practice manuals, our expert attorneys have been published by Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB), American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA),, Huffington Post, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, Center for Law and Social Policy, The Hill, LexisNexis Emerging Issues, and Fox News Latino.
We have also provided training to National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), American Bar Association Commission on Immigration, Federal Bar Association, The State Bar of California, Legal Aid Association of California, Judicial Council of California and more.

On August 23, 2023, ILRC submitted a comment on the proposed form that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will use to collect information from the public about suspected violations. ILRC opposes the use of this form as it allows for anonymous, un-vetted information to be the basis of investigations and has a high likelihood of being used by abusers, unscrupulous employers and landlords, and others to harass and target immigrant communities.
Each year, the ILRC distributes thousands of copies of our 23 manuals and provides legal assistance on more than 8,100 issues to pro bono and nonprofit advocates, as well as public defenders, through our national Attorney of the Day service. In any given year, our staff attorneys conduct hundreds of trainings, community meetings, task forces, and workshops. In 2022, the ILRC held 286 in-person and online seminars and webinars for over 20,000 attendees and participants. The ILRC also leads meetings and workshops where thousands of immigrants are screened for legal options while learning about their rights and responsibilities in a democratic society. Since 2011, the ILRC, as the lead of the New Americans Campaign, has helped more than 580,000 immigrants complete their applications for naturalization.
There is a new law in California that went into effect in 2023 called the California Clean Slate Act (SB 731). Under the Clean Slate Act, authorities will automatically expunge – or dismiss – certain arrests and criminal convictions. While expungement provides relief in the California state criminal legal system, it does not provide the same relief in the immigration context. This explainer walks through some key points about this new law and its implication for immigrants with prior contact with law enforcement.
This is the second part of a two-part practice advisory on how to effectively challenge an immigration judge's adverse credibility finding with the Board of Immigration Appeals. The two advisories should be read together, as neither part is complete on its own. This second part of the advisory discusses how to challenge adverse credibility findings based on a witness's demeanor or responsiveness; findings that are based on an immigration judge's speculation and conjecture, particularly regarding the plausibility of a claim; and determinations regarding a respondent’s corroborative evidence. It also flags special circumstances to look out for when appealing an immigration judge's adverse credibility finding.
On August 7, 2023, the ILRC provided a comment to a recent USCIS Policy Manual update seeking to clarify who is subject to the public charge ground of inadmissibility. In the comment, ILRC provided suggested language for both the Policy Manual and the Form I-485 that would help to further lessen confusion that practitioners and applicants are facing in this area. ILRC also recommended changes to the USCIS web site for Form I-485 to ensure that information is consistent and accurate for applicants.
Conviction of “obstruction of justice” is an aggravated felony if a sentence of a year or more is imposed. In Pugin v. Garland, No. 22-23 (June 22, 2023), the Supreme Court overturned the Ninth Circuit’s definition of obstruction, but failed to provide a clear definition of its own. Now some California offenses are likely aggravated felonies if there is a sentence of year or more, including Penal Code §§ 32, 69, 136.1, 148, Vehicle Code § 10851, and others.

This Advisory discusses California offenses under Pugin, and discusses California criminal sentencing dispositions that avoid a sentence of a year or more for immigration purposes.
The Central American Minors program allows qualifying children in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to enter the United States and live here lawfully if they have a parent or legal guardian in the United States with certain kinds of immigration status. This fact sheet provides information on basic eligibility and where to go for help.
Immigration law demonizes people whom it labels as “drug abusers and addicts,” “habitual drunkards,” and “alcoholics.” The implication is that they are morally weak, dangerous, or evil. An immigrant who comes within such a category can be found inadmissible and ineligible to establish good moral character, and can be denied several forms of immigration relief as well as naturalization. But from a scientific perspective, these people suffer from a substance use disorder (SUD), a medical condition that frequently arises after the person has undergone severe trauma. Substance Use Disorder is a growing health crisis that currently affects over 20 million people in the United States.

This Advisory is written by immigration attorneys and medical doctors specializing in SUD, to examine the issue from both perspectives. Part I of the advisory discusses the several immigration law penalties based on substance use (even when use has not risen to a disorder) and suggests legal defense strategies. Part II of the advisory reviews current medical information about the disorders and discusses how this information can address questions that arise in immigration proceedings.
The Immigrant Legal Resource Center submitted this letter on June 16, 2023, to thank USCIS for the many changes that have already been made to the USCIS Policy Manual and to provide further recommendations for changes to the Policy Manual that USCIS can immediately implement to increase access to immigration benefits and reduce backlogs. The letter provides suggestions that include ongoing recommendations from prior letters and engagements as well as new ones.

On June 20, 2023, the ILRC submitted a comment to USCIS regarding the proposed changes to From N-400, Application for Naturalization. ILRC commended the agency for a number of positive changes that streamlined and shortened the form. ILRC also made several suggestions to USCIS to clarify and narrow the information required from applicants to ensure that only relevant information is collected on the form.
U nonimmigrant status, commonly referred to as a “U visa”, is a form of immigration relief available to people who are survivors of certain crimes that happened in the United States. This guide serves as a walkthrough of the different benefits granted when approved for a U visa – and those that are granted while an application is pending.
With the future of the DACA policy hanging by a thread due to litigation, DACA employees are wondering whether they can continue earning a living if they were to lose their work authorization. This Community Alert, produced in partnership with Immigrants Rising, lists some policy ideas that employers can implement to continue to support their employees if DACA were to end.
The prison industrial complex is a highly adaptive mechanism that is constantly shifting to sustain itself. In recent years, the movement against mass incarceration has gained traction in reducing penal incarceration in the United States. In this report in collaboration with the Detention Watch Network, we detail select case examples of jails and prisons that closed for one purpose, only to cage a different group of people. The case studies demonstrate the importance of looking ahead to strategies which ensure that cages remain closed for all carceral uses, once and for all.
This practice advisory addresses FAQs related to current public charge policy including definitions and applicability of the new 2022 rule, use of benefits and other government programs, exemptions, affidavit of support and sponsor questions, and bond.