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.

 ILRC submitted this comment in response to the recent update to the USCIS Policy Manual, entitled “Naturalization Eligibility and Voter Registration Through a State’s Benefit Application Process,” issued May 27, 2021, and effective immediately. ILRC wrote to commend USCIS on the addition of this update, suggest edits to the wording of the false claim ground to better reflect the law and avoid unintended expansion of this already broad ground, and encourage USCIS to include similarly limiting language in Volume 8 regarding the false claim and unlawful voting grounds of inadmissibility.
For many family members, being a derivative on a U petition may be the only way they will be able to get legal status in the United States. Because of this, it is important to understand when a derivative can be included on a petition and USCIS’s current interpretation of age-out protections. ICWC and ILRC wrote this advisory to address a changed interpretation of age-out protections for U visa derivatives.
Children and youth compose a significant portion of the U.S. immigrant population and often qualify for various forms of immigration relief, many of which involve an application filing fee. Under the Trump administration, USCIS promulgated a final rule intended to dramatically raise fees for many immigration application forms, including those available to young people, and would have limited access to fee waivers. The rule was blocked by federal courts, and after President Biden took office, the Department of Justice decided not to defend the rule, so it never took effect and for now immigration filing fees remain at the previously set amounts. This advisory reviews some of the main forms of immigration relief available to children and youth and the current fees for each, and summarizes the litigation and related efforts that ultimately defeated the Trump fee rule.
California has passed four bills in recent years concerning access to the U visa, an important form of immigration status. Although the federal government decides who receives a U visa, the state can increase access to the remedy by creating processes for noncitizens to obtain a U visa certification from law enforcement, a necessary part of the U visa petition. All of the bills address U visa certification. This advisory describes the California bills, who they apply to, and how practitioners can use them to advocate for U visa clients.
ICE enforcement priorities have changed under the Biden administration, signaling a return to the use of prosecutorial discretion. On May 27, 2021, the ICE Principal Legal Advisor issued guidance for OPLA attorneys about how and when to exercise prosecutorial discretion during various stages of removal proceedings. EOIR subsequently issued its own memo discussing EOIR policies related to the enforcement priorities. Building upon our previous practice advisory, Advocating for Clients under the Biden Administration’s Interim Enforcement Priorities, this practice alert from ILRC and NIPNLG provides immigration practitioners with a summary of the OPLA and EOIR guidance, including key information, practice tips, and takeaways.
Various pieces of legislation have been introduced in the US Congress in 2021 designed to provide immigration relief to certain members of the undocumented community.  In this resource, we provide a comparison of key provisions of some of these bills.  The ILRC applauds the leadership and organizing of immigrant communities who have bravely fought for years to ensure these proposals for relief are considered by Congress and that all members of our communities can live with dignity.  These bills are important steps forward in addressing the inequities in our immigration system, however the ILRC believes that legislative proposals should be fully inclusive so that individuals who have had contact with the criminal legal system are not disqualified for relief.      
This first of its kind toolkit is designed for Criminal Defenders working with noncitizen clients who may be placed in removal proceedings through the Institutional Hearing Program (IHP). The Stanford Immigrants' Rights Clinic developed these materials on behalf of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC). A special thanks to clinic students Noelle Smith (’21), Claire Fieldman (’22), Raven Quesenberry (’22), and Drew Alvarez (’21) for their leadership developing these materials.
The Ninth Circuit’s decision in Medina Tovar expanded eligibility for U derivative status for certain after-acquired spouses of U visa petitioners. ASISTA, CLINIC & ILRC’s new Practice Alert includes the latest information on how and when to file an I-918A for a derivative spouse where the marriage to the U-1 petitioner occurred after the filing of the I-918 but before the U petition was adjudicated.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) allows certain noncitizens (regardless of gender) abused by a family member to seek immigration relief by "self-petitioning" based on the abusive relative's immigration status, without having to involve that abusive family member in the immigration process, and based on that VAWA designation, apply for lawful permanent resident status (a "green card"). Obtaining lawful permanent resident status through VAWA is generally a two-step process: one, filing the VAWA self-petition and two, filing the application for adjustment of status based on VAWA. This practice advisory goes through the second step, filing an adjustment application based on VAWA. VAWA adjustment applicants have slightly modified requirements from other family-based adjustment applicants, including less rigorous general requirements and certain special exceptions and waivers to some of the grounds of inadmissibility.
Most H-4 spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants are ineligible for employment authorization and thus are financially dependent on the principal visa holder spouse. This dependence can be used as a tool for abuse and control in relationships and exacerbate domestic violence situations. INA § 106 allows survivors of domestic violence who are spouses of certain nonimmigrant visa holders to be eligible for work authorization independent of their spouse. This advisory provides an overview of employment authorization eligibility under INA § 106 for H-4 spouses of H-1B visa holders who are survivors of domestic violence.
Immigration law has its own definition of what constitutes a criminal conviction. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and other courts have held that certain types of pretrial diversion and intervention agreements that result in dismissal under state law can still constitute a conviction for immigration purposes. Practitioners must pay close attention to the structure of such agreements, and the variety of available diversion programs, when evaluating a client’s criminal history and advising about the potential immigration consequences of criminal offenses and dispositions. This advisory discusses when such diversion agreements and programs will constitute a conviction for immigration purposes, strategies to avoid triggering an immigration conviction, and tips for advocating for “immigration-safe” agreements.
The majority of states have legalized some use of marijuana, but marijuana remains a federal Schedule I controlled substance. Therefore, any conduct involving marijuana can be very dangerous for immigrants – including conduct that is permitted under state law. Admitting that one has “legally” used marijuana, being employed in the fast-growing cannabis industry, and any conviction can cause serious immigration problems. A prior marijuana conviction must be vacated based on some error; the fact that the state has since legalized the conduct does not erase it, and many state “mass expungement” actions also do not. Evidence that a person has sold marijuana can harm any noncitizen, in some cases including immigrant youth. Marijuana issues can cause bars to eligibility for affirmative applications such as adjustment of status and naturalization; admission at the border; and cancellation and other applications in removal proceedings. 
In this practice advisory co-drafted with Public Counsel, we answer common questions on how to tackle disclosure of juvenile adjudications and dissemination of court records for individuals interested in applying for DACA. It also includes a sample DACA request packet, which shows various ways to disclose juvenile adjudications and comply with state confidentiality laws.
This handout provides a list of some of the most common public benefits programs that do not count for public charge. Whether or not public charge applies to you and no matter your immigration status, the programs on this list are safe to use.
The Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF) Strategy Group submitted these comments in connection with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) Request for Public Input published in the Federal Register on April 19, 2021. The Strategy Group is a focused coalition of local, state, and national-level organizations that provide direct legal and other community-based services to Liberians in the United States and includes experts in USCIS operations and implementation issues and Liberian cultural competency.
Applicants must meet certain requirements to be eligible for DACA, including showing that they have been continuously residing in the United States since June 15, 2007. Acquiring documents to use as evidence to prove the continuous residence requirement can be tedious. As such, this resource focuses on the types of evidence initial DACA applicants can gather to prove continuous residence and where applicants can get this evidence.
Los recientes anuncios sobre las propuesta sobre la reforma migratoria en el Congreso han dejado a muchos miembros de la comunidad con preguntas, y aunque ninguno de estos proyectos de ley son ley, muchos se preguntan cómo pueden prepararse para un caso de inmigración en el futuro. Este recurso proporciona tres pasos que los miembros de la comunidad pueden tomar ahora para comprender sus opciones legales y lo que pueden esperar al buscar apoyo legal.
As you explore potential immigration options for you or your family, finding trusted support from a reputable immigration attorney or other legal service provider can be difficult. Just as payday lenders often prey on under-resourced communities, or predatory scammers pose as immigration officials to demand gift cards, certain businesses can mislead the public by offering immigration legal services despite being unqualified and illegal to do so. This guide is designed to help you identify some key red flags that may indicate a business is not acting in your best interest or is otherwise not providing reliable legal advice or services.
Persons are barred from receiving or renewing DACA if they have been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, three or more misdemeanors, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety. DACA applicants who have been arrested or convicted of a crime may still be eligible, but they should first obtain their criminal records and take them to an expert immigration practitioner to obtain legal advice about their eligibility and potential risks of applying. This resource provides persons applying for DACA with instructions about what criminal records they need for their application and how they can find them.