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.

In response to recent ICE enforcement practices, noncitizens who need to attend state and local courts in California may express fear of civil arrest if they attend court. This two-page tool, written for defenders and legal services providers, presents California-specific strategies for representing and advising noncitizens who may require additional procedural protections for their right to attend court. It includes discussion of recent California laws and how they affect daily court practice, as well as recommendations for documenting unlawful civil arrests and for empowering communities to exercise their rights if confronted by ICE.
This one-hour training, recorded on February 4, 2020, provides updates on what the U.S. Supreme Court's January 27, 2020 order regarding the Department of Homeland Security's new public charge inadmissibility rule means for our clients and the immigrant community. We also discuss what we know and what questions remain at this juncture, suggestions for how to talk about this latest development regarding public charge, and initial thoughts about how to approach adjustment of status cases in light of these changes. Adjustment cases filed with USCIS before February 24, 2020 will be decided based on old criteria in effect before the new rule.
This toolkit and webinar from ILRC, CLINIC, and the Center for Constitutional Rights provide and introduction and advice for how immigrant rights advocates can use public records act requests to get information on how immigrants are treated by local and state government agencies.  These requests can be an essential part of campaigns to protect immigrant communities.
Since 2015, the process of immigrating to the United States as the spouse of a USC or an LPR should not be any different for an LGBTQ couple than any other couple. However, advocates working with LGBTQ couples may need to consider a variety of factors when documenting and providing representation for an LGBTQ marriage-based petition. For example, is the couple currently living a jurisdiction where they can lawfully marry? And, if not, what other options does a couple have? And how might a marriage-based petition packet look if the couple has not shared their marriage or LGBTQ identity with one or both of their families? This advisory will address the first step of the marriage-based immigration process for same-sex married couples: submitting evidence of a bona fide marriage. It will also discuss red flags to address when preparing such applications and strategies for preventing fraud accusations by USCIS.
Enacted on December 20, 2019, the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LIRF) act began a program that will allow many Liberians living in the United States to apply for permanent residence. The statute originally had a one-year application window that ended on December 20, 2020, but Congress extended the application period another year to December 20, 2021 in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.
The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) builds a democratic society that values diversity and the rights of all people. Through ILRC’s policy and advocacy efforts, we promote a vision of racial justice that advances the rights of all immigrants, including those who have had contact with the criminal legal system.
Effective December 20, 2019, the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF) act opened a one-year window that will allow many Liberians living in the United States to apply for permanent residence. The act was buried in Section 7611 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020. This practice advisory will provide a summary of the law, which went into effect immediately and will only allow applications for relief up to December 20, 2020.
Section 212(h) of the INA provides a waiver for crimes inadmissibility grounds, which can be surprisingly useful for undocumented people, VAWA applicants, or permanent residents. It can be applied for multiple times; it has the potential to waive an aggravated felony conviction (unless it is related to drugs); it can be used both affirmatively and as a defense to removal; and it does not always require proof of "extreme hardship." Unfortunately, it can't be used to waive drug convictions or conduct, other than a single incident involving possessing a small amount of marijuana. 
On December 23, 2019, ILRC submitted a comment in opposition of the Department of Homeland Security’s notice of proposed rulemaking titled, “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Fee Schedule and Changes to Certain Other Immigration Benefit Request Requirements,” published in the Federal Register on November 14, 2019, with supplemental information published on December 9, 2019. ILRC submitted supplemental comments in early 2020.
The nonimmigrant status, often referred to as the “T visa” is a form of immigration status for certain noncitizen survivors of trafficking.  This visa was created by Congress to help combat human trafficking and provide immigration relief to persons who were affected. As part of the protections given, Congress allowed for applicants to petition for certain family members to gain status.  These family members are known as “derivatives.” For many family members, being a derivative on an application may be the only way they will be able to get legal status in the United States. This practice advisory provides information on derivatives for T nonimmigrant status as well as considerations to keep in mind when filing an application. 
The U nonimmigrant status, often referred to as the “U Visa,” is a form of immigration relief available to noncitizens who have been victims of serious crimes in the United States.  As part of the protection given to victims of crimes, U petitioners are able to include certain family members in the application process.  These family members are known as “derivatives”. For many family members, being a derivative on an application may be the only way they will be able to get legal status in the United States.  This practice advisory outlines the requirements for U nonimmigrant derivatives as well as considerations to keep in mind when filing an application.
This report outlines the established purpose and availability of fee waivers for immigration applications, examines recent USCIS proposals to limit access and create more stringent evidentiary standards, and explores the potential consequences of a more restrictive framework on domestic violence victims and other survivors of crime. It includes results of an informal survey of legal service providers assisting domestic violence and other crime victims from around the country. Finally, it offers recommendations to make fee waivers accessible and facilitate broad access to humanitarian immigration benefits.
It is important to remember that immigration law and regulations exempt some categories of immigrants from public charge inadmissibility and provide many types of immigration status that are not subject to the public charge ground of inadmissibility. This advisory provides an overview of the exemptions to public charge inadmissibility and the forms of relief a client may seek without being subject to a public charge test. It also discusses public charge issues to keep in mind when advising immigrants who may be considering adjustment of status or consular processing through a family or employer petition after having a status that is not subject to public charge inadmissibility. Understanding these considerations will help advocates best counsel their clients and prepare applications in the current climate of uncertainty surrounding public charge policy.
Sanctuary policies have been under attack since the 2016 presidential campaign and throughout the Trump administration.  Nonetheless, these policies have continued to expand, both geographically and in terms of substantive policy content and protections. This detailed report describes what sanctuary policies are and how they are enacted across the country, detailing the changes over the last three years and providing context to the public discourse about local policies related to immigration. It is accompanied by our live national map with data on county-level involvement with ICE:
In order to qualify for naturalization, lawful permanent residents must meet several residence and physical presence requirements that are often mistaken for one another and muddled together. Traveling outside of the United States can not only affect these requirements for naturalization, but they can cause United States Citizenship and Immigration (USCIS) officials to find that a person abandoned their lawful permanent resident status, which can have severe consequences. In this practice advisory, we review these requirements in detail as well as the related issues surrounding abandonment of lawful permanent residence.
People who were wrongfully admitted to the United States due to a misrepresentation—i.e., those who were in fact inadmissible at time of admission—may be eligible for a waiver of deportability under INA § 237(a)(1)(H). This lesser-known waiver is only available in removal proceedings and unlike most waiver requests, does not involve any application form or fee. This advisory explains who can request a 237(a)(1)(H) waiver and the process for applying.
A brief overview of our work, program areas, and impact.
Cancellation of removal under INA § 240A(a) is an important defense for lawful permanent residents who have become removable, due to criminal record or other reasons. The requirements for statutory eligibility are complex, and it is critical for advocates to understand the risks and strategies that arise from the Supreme Court’s decision on the “stop-time” rule, Barton v. Barr, --U.S.--, 140 S.Ct. 1442 (2020). This Advisory is an updated step-by-step guide to eligibility, potential arguments, and defense strategies for LPR cancellation.