Immigration Relief Toolkit for Criminal Defenders

Publication Date

Many noncitizen defendants are already deportable (“removable”). This includes all undocumented people, as well as lawful permanent residents (green card-holders) who have become deportable because of a conviction. If immigration authorities find these people – which is likely to happen – they will be deported unless they are granted some kind of immigration relief.   For these defendants, staying eligible to apply for immigration relief is their most important immigration goal, and may be their highest priority in the criminal defense.

The purpose of the Relief Toolkit is to help defenders or paralegals to spot a defendant’s possible immigration relief relatively quickly. If you determine that your client might be eligible for specific relief, this will help inform your criminal defense goals, and you can tell your client that it is especially important for him or her to get immigration counsel.  The Relief Toolkit contains:

  • Questionnaire to spot possible relief  (10 minutes to complete)
  • Two-page information sheets on each specific application, e.g., asylum, naturalization, family immigration, whether the client already might be a citizen
  • Annotated chart listing different forms of relief and their criminal record bars

This Toolkit also appears as §N.17 in the California Quick Reference Chart and Notes at It was written by Kathy Brady at ILRC. The Client Questionnaire appears as §N.16.