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 December 23, 2022, a new rule on public charge went into effect. The new rule reinforces longstanding policies on public charge that ensure families can access health and nutrition programs and many other benefits without fear. Not all immigrants need to worry about public charge since many are not affected and can receive any public benefit they are eligible for without consequences. This downloadable guide offers more information about whether public charge affects you or your family.
Special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS) provides a way for certain young people who have been abandoned, abused, or neglected by a parent to obtain immigration status. This practice advisory reviews the history of the federal regulations implementing the SIJS statute and then provides an overview of the new SIJS regulations, published in the spring of 2022. In the overview, the advisory highlights notable policy changes implemented through the new regulations.
On December 19, 2022, USCIS published updates to its Policy Manual on how adjudicators should assess applications under the Public Charge ground of inadmissibility. This guidance accompanies the new final rule on Public Charge which took effect on December 23, 2023. The guidance is mostly positive, solidifying and strengthening longstanding public charge policy. However, the ILRC provided suggestions to clarify implementation of the new rule and help USCIS achieve their goals of ensuring that the public charge ground of inadmissibility is applied clearly, consistently, and fairly.
In recent years, California’s appellate courts have provided guidance on the state court’s role in Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) cases. The following decisions clarify many of the common questions that these cases present in state courts, including one-parent SIJS, notice and service issues, and the role of the state court
Federal Rulemaking is one of the most direct ways that the public can participate and shape policies and practices of executive agencies. Federal regulations govern the executive agencies charged with enforcing the United States’ immigration laws and granting immigration benefits to eligible applicants. However, the process of Federal Rulemaking is often misunderstood and public participation in the process is under-utilized. This practice advisory provides an overview of the federal regulatory and rulemaking process as well as the authorities that govern this process as well as a guide to commenting on proposed rules and practical tips for navigating the resources available to the public.
Each year, the ILRC distributes thousands of copies of our 23 manuals and provides legal assistance on more than 8,000 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, and workshops. In 2021, the ILRC held 193 in-person and online seminars and webinars for almost 15,000 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 560,000 immigrants complete their naturalization applications.
The Central American Minors program (CAM) is a hybrid refugee and parole program. It benefits minors in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras who have a parent or legal guardian living in the United States under certain forms of immigration status. The program was first introduced in 2014, but was terminated in 2017 under the Trump administration. The Biden administration reinstated the program in 2021 and added new eligibility criteria. This advisory gives an overview of the CAM program including its refugee and parole components, as well as subsequent re-parole applications for existing parolees who wish to maintain their status. Although only a designated refugee resettlement agency may file an initial CAM application, other practitioners play an important role in screening for possible CAM eligibility to make referrals to designated agencies and in assisting current CAM parolees.
In September 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 1766 – CA IDs For All – which expands standard CA ID eligibility to all Californians, regardless of immigration status. In this downloadable guide, we walk through this new law’s implications, the opportunities for immigrants living in California, how this differs from AB 60 and the REAL ID, and more.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has created opportunities for individuals to get protection from deportation, among other benefits, if they have suffered abuse from a spouse or certain family members. This brief overview walks through the immigration eligibility and benefits involved with VAWA.
This advisory contains general information shared by USCIS staff during the September 2022 stakeholder event. It contains notes compiled by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) VAWA, U, and T National Committee and reflects USCIS responses to questions posed by the committee and partners.
his fact sheet describes new Cal. Penal Code 372.5 (AB 2195). As of January 1, 2023, a California defendant who is charged with any of several drug offenses, from infractions to felonies, can ask for the drug charge/s to be dismissed and instead to plead guilty to being a “public nuisance” (Penal Code § 370). Section 372.5 provides that in this circumstance, the public nuisance offense is punishable as an infraction, a misdemeanor, or a “wobbler” offense, depending on the offense level of the drug charge that was dropped. The defense must decide to ask, and the prosecution must agree, to go forward with Penal Code 370/372.5.
On October 19, 2022, USCIS published major revisions to their Policy Manual on the English and/or Civics disability waiver for naturalization applicants. Overall, these changes were a welcome improvement in access to the disability waiver. However, we opposed the sections in the revised Policy Manual and N-648 that add a question about understanding the oath of allegiance. The oath waiver and the English/civics disability waiver derive from separate sections of the law and have different eligibility standards.
This alert describes recent changes to the naturalization disability waiver. On October 19, 2022, USCIS announced major revisions to the Form N-648, which is used by naturalization applicants who seek a waiver of the English and/or civics requirement based on a disability or impairment that causes the applicant to be unable to learn or demonstrate knowledge of English and/or civics. USCIS also published major changes to the accompanying USCIS Policy Manual guidance.
Survivors of human trafficking and of domestic or sexual violence often are charged and convicted of offenses that arose as a direct result of their exploitation. For noncitizens, the criminal record can cause deportation or destroy their eligibility for humanitarian visas. In the last five years, California has enacted multiple laws to avoid this injustice in criminal court, including a defense to a criminal charge and a vehicle to vacate a past conviction for survivors who were coerced to commit the offense, or in other cases mitigation of sentence. This advisory describes the new criminal laws and their immigration effect, so that criminal defenders and immigration and survivor advocates are aware of these options.
Drug offenses cause the harshest, most disproportionate immigration penalties of any offense. Criminal defenders and immigration advocates need information to work aggressively to defend immigrant clients. This advisory provides strategies to avoid a drug conviction, including how and when to use Penal Code § 372.5 (2023), along with practice tips, resources, and arguments to support negotiating for an immigration neutral plea or disposition in criminal court.
In ILRC’s A Platform for Immigrant Justice: Executive Action the Biden Administration Must Enact we outline bold, urgent and necessary policy solutions the Biden administration must enact to ensure immigration benefits are more equitable and accessible and that the work of dismantling the oppressive systems of enforcement, detention and surveillance begins.
On October 5, 2022, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision in the Texas v United States case. In their decision, the Fifth Circuit agreed with Texas and found that the DACA policy is unlawful but sent the case back to the Southern District of Texas to consider the recently issued final DACA rule. The Fifth Circuit maintained the court order allowing those who are eligible to continue to renew their DACA and apply for advance parole while the case is pending. More changes and updates are expected around the DACA policy as we wait for a decision. This resource is a list of frequently asked questions to help community members navigate the changes to DACA.
Sample questions about the sheriff’s policy positions on working with ICE that advocates or community members can use at candidate forums or other meetings. For more background information about sheriffs and their role in the deportation pipeline, see: