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 commended USCIS on its recent extension of COVID flexibility policies through October 23, 2022. In addition, we suggested some new COVID-related policies to ameliorate the impact of the pandemic, including longer extensions of time to respond to notices and decisions, adoption of a mailbox rule for filing deadlines, and allowing waivers to proceed despite death of a qualifying relative.
On August 30, 2022, the Biden Administration issued a new rule on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that will incorporate DACA into the Federal Regulations. Since its announcement, several questions have been raised around who can access DACA now and what it means for all those first-time applicants who are waiting to obtain DACA. This community resource outlines key points for you to keep in mind as you navigate access to DACA now and when the rule goes into effect on October 31, 2022.
ILRC commends USCIS on the recent USCIS Policy Manual additions clarifying guidance on the unlawful presence bars. We further thank USCIS for rescinding Matter of Z-R-Z-C and updating its interpretation on the effects of authorized travel by Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beneficiaries. These changes will benefit affected applicants significantly, create clarity and consistency across adjudications, and help USCIS achieve its overall mission to uphold America’s promise as a nation of welcome and possibility.
In California, there are several state and local programs that help California families, including immigrants, meet their basic needs. These programs often play an important role by extending benefits to immigrants who are not eligible for federal benefit programs. This resource gives an overview of some of the public benefits that are available to immigrants in California to access education, healthcare, food assistance, and other important necessities.
The Immigrant Legal Resource Center proudly honors outstanding individuals for their work on behalf of immigrants. Named after the late Congressman Phillip Burton, U.S. Representative from California (1964-1983), the awards recognize those who carry on Congressman Burton’s legacy in support of immigrant and human rights. The awards were created with the help of John L. Burton, former Chairman of the California Democratic Party. Phillip Burton’s brother, John Burton currently serves on the ILRC Advisory Board and was presented with the 2004 Phillip Burton Award for Lifetime Achievement in Immigration & Civil Rights. Through the Phillip Burton Awards, the ILRC honors those whose work in the areas of policy, advocacy, and lawyering has significantly advanced the civil rights of immigrants.
On July 14, 2022, the ILRC submitted a comment to USCIS about Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. ILRC requested that USCIS revise Form N-400 to be shorter and to request information that is only relevant to eligibility for naturalization. ILRC also encouraged USCIS to do away with its practice of re-adjudicating underlying forms at the naturalization stage – a practice that is burdensome in time and resources and discourages eligible Lawful Permanent Residents from engaging with the naturalization process.
These are two archived lists of policy wins the ILRC has been involved with: at a statewide level (particularly in California), and also at a national level through advocacy with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 
In 2016, California enacted California Penal Code § 1473.7, a post-conviction relief vehicle allowing people no longer in criminal custody to vacate legally defective convictions. Ever since, the ILRC has supported advocates to implement this law, including helping to defend the vacaturs from DHS attempts to erode its impact. In Arias v. Garland, a case currently pending before the Ninth Circuit, the court will decide whether 1473.7 should be given full effect, erasing the conviction for immigration purposes. The ILRC helped coordinate Mr. Arias’s amicus strategy and we offer his redacted merits brief as well as the extraordinary amicus briefs submitted in support so that they might help practitioners facing similar arguments. The briefing in the Arias case represents some of the most robust arguments for why 1473.7 vacaturs should be recognized, but we also include below the various prior briefs, advisories, and sample materials we have developed in the defense of the full reach of 1473.7.
Thousands of noncitizens in California are at risk of removal or cannot qualify for immigration relief because they have unlawfully imposed criminal convictions. The good news is that there are several options under California law to eliminate these convictions for immigration purposes, using post-conviction relief (PCR).  This Advisory can help advocates to identify which of these forms of California PCR may help your client, and direct you to more resources about how to obtain it.
The ILRC submitted a comment to USCIS requesting that USCIS clarify who may file an N-600K, Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322, and to prioritize applications for children who are close to turning eighteen and aging out of elibiblity for citizenship under INA Section 322.
The ILRC submitted a comment to USCIS in support of the agency’s temporary increase of 540 days for the validity periods for Employment Authorization where an EAD renewal application is pending. This move will help provide financial stability for those who rely on authorization for employment and are currently stuck waiting in long processing backlogs.
Filing an appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) is a crucial step for many noncitizens facing removal because it is the last opportunity to obtain a favorable decision from the Executive Office for Immigration Review. Often, reviewing the immigration judge’s decision for errors is a daunting task. It can be difficult to separate identifying issues to appeal, from the overwhelming sense of injustice that can result from a negative decision. This advisory will focus on reviewing decisions by Immigration Judges (IJs) and identifying issues to raise on appeal to the BIA. The goal is to equip practitioners with a framework to look for errors where the IJ has denied relief or otherwise ordered removal.
Clients with mental illness have needs and vulnerabilities that present unique challenges in immigration proceedings. This practice advisory provides an overview on advocating for clients with mental health issues, specifically focusing on representation in the detained setting. The advisory discusses legal authority that an immigration practitioner can utilize to protect a client’s due process rights and ensure their client’s agency is respected and they have a meaningful opportunity to present their case.
This advisory provides detailed instruction on how and where to file a motion to reopen for attorneys who have successfully vacated a conviction for immigration purposes and their client is now eligible for termination or a form of relief. In addition, the advisory addresses the impact of the post-departure bar and reinstatement of prior removal order on post-conviction relief motions to reopen.
This advisory provides an overview of ICE’s new “victim-centered” approach to immigration enforcement based on an August 2021 directive, including who qualifies as a victim and which ICE actions are covered. As part of this new approach, ICE officers and agents are instructed to look out for and in various circumstances exercise prosecutorial discretion in favor of noncitizen survivors of crime as part of their decisions to arrest, detain, release, and refer noncitizens.
On April 3, 2022, ICE Principal Legal Advisor Kerry Doyle issued guidance to all OPLA attorneys on how and when to exercise prosecutorial discretion in removal proceedings under DHS’s enforcement priorities. That guidance took effect on April 25, 2022 and replaces the previous OPLA guidance issued by former Principal Legal Advisor John Trasviña in May 2021. The Doyle guidance presents new opportunities for practitioners to seek positive outcomes for clients facing deportation, while also presenting some new challenges. This practice advisory provides key information on the Doyle memo and practice tips on advocating for prosecutorial discretion for clients in removal proceedings. The advisory also includes information on the ongoing litigation challenging DHS’s enforcement priorities and how that litigation may affect OPLA’s exercise of prosecutorial discretion.
The ILRC wrote to USCIS advocating for changes in the USCIS Policy Manual on requirements for naturalization oath waivers and accommodations. USCIS’s Policy Manual guidance unnecessarily restricts oath waivers to person who have certain U.S. citizen relatives or a court-ordered legal guardian or surrogate, a requirement that does not exist in statute or regulation. 
This advisory lays out some of the main “pros” and “cons” to applying for U nonimmigrant status for crime victims as they exist now, to help prospective applicants weigh the benefits and risks of applying. “Pros” include direct benefits of temporary lawful status, employment authorization, protection from removal, a pathway to a green card that is not barred by almost any grounds of inadmissibility, and the ability to help family members obtain immigration status. Additional “pros” include special confidentiality provisions, eligibility for public benefits, eligibility for the Central American Minors program, and special consideration by ICE, among other collateral benefits. “Cons” include very long processing times and vulnerability to divergent discretionary decisions during fluctuations in enforcement priorities and other policies in the many years it takes to get a decision.
On June 6, 2022, the ILRC submitted a comment on USCIS Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.  The comment encourages USCIS to amend the form to be shorter, to eliminate unnecessary questions, and to provide clarification where needed. The comment also asks USCIS to withdraw the discretionary factors used to adjudicate the form.
On February 10, 2022, USCIS released several VAWA Self-Petition policy changes. The changes include the nationwide implementation of two circuit court decisions and changes in USCIS’s interpretation of the joint residence requirement for VAWA Self-Petitioners. This practice advisory contains short summaries of USCIS’s VAWA Self-Petition policy changes.
On May 5, 2022, ILRC, AILA, and AIC jointly filed a comment to USCIS’s revisions to the G-639 FOIA Request form. We suggested changes to the proposed revisions to the Form G-639 Instructions regarding the online filing of FOIA through the agency’s FIRST system. The online system should not require country of birth and other identity information that is not needed in filing a written G-639 request. Also, the Instructions should clearly state FIRST is one option among others for submitting a FOIA request.