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Toolkit for BIA Recognition & Accreditation

 

Does your nonprofit agency want to develop a legal immigration program, but lack attorneys on staff or the money to hire them?

Does your nonprofit agency want to continue providing legal immigration services, but avoid engaging in the unauthorized practice of law? 

Does your nonprofit agency have immigration attorneys on staff, but want to expand its capacity by getting authorization for non-attorney staff to practice immigration law?

In these situations, your agency needs to seek recognition for itself and accreditation for its non-attorney staff from the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).  BIA recognition and accreditation is the Department of Justice’s certification of charitable immigration agencies and staff, and allows non-attorney staff to practice immigration law before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the immigration courts. 

The rules governing recognition and accreditation can be found at 8 CFR Section 292.2.

However, the regulations are brief and do not address some of the challenges in compiling the BIA recognition and accreditation application. 

This toolkit is designed to educate agencies on the need for BIA recognition and accreditation and to assist them in the application process.  It is divided into four sections:

  • Section One provides background information about the importance of BIA recognition and accreditation. 
  • Section Two takes you through the steps needed to prepare for and compile the application. 
  • Section Three provides guidelines on the professional code of conduct for BIA accredited representatives and information on how to protect your agency from liability.
  • Section Four focuses on the widespread problem of immigration fraud and provides resources for educating the immigrant community.   


CLINIC welcomes your feedback on this toolkit, including suggestions for additional materials to include.  If you have any feedback or questions, please contact Laura Burdick at lburdick@cliniclegal.org.

 

1.  GENERAL INFORMATION

EOIR Main Page on the Recognition & Accreditation Program

New “BIA Issues Three Decisions on Recognition and Accreditation” – CLINIC news article

New BIA Precedent Decision, Matter of United Farm Workers Foundation (2014)

New BIA Precedent Decision, Matter of Ayuda (2014)

Update on New BIA Regulations

CLINIC webinar, “All About BIA Recognition and Accreditation”

Board of Immigration Appeals FAQ Sheet on the Recognition and Accreditation Program

"BIA Releases New FAQ Sheet on Recognition and Accreditation" - CLINIC news article

BIA Precedent Decision, Matter of Central California Legal Services, Inc. (2013)

“BIA Addresses Training Requirements for Accredited Representatives” – CLINIC news article

"BIA Issues Two Decisions on Recognition and Accreditation" - CLINIC news article

Form G-28: Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative

 

2. PREPARATION: SETTING AN ACTION PLAN, ACQUIRING ESSENTIAL TRAINING, AND COMPILING THE APPLICATION

Step-by-Step Guide for BIA Accreditation and Recognition - World Relief and CLINIC

Form EOIR-31, Request for Recognition of a Non-Profit Religious, Charitable, Social Service, or Similar Organization

NEW Form EOIR-31A, Request by Organization for Accreditation of Non-Attorney Representative

Checklist for BIA Recognition and Accreditation Process

Action Plan for Applying for BIA Recognition and Accreditation

CLINIC Training Calendar

Self-Directed E-Learning Course on Fundamentals of Immigration Law

Immigration Advocates Network (IAN) Training Calendar

Immigration Law Library Resources

Sample Application for BIA Agency Recognition and Staff Accreditation: See page 16 of Step-by-Step Guide

Sample Application Cover Letter for BIA Staff Accreditation: See page 20 of Step-by-Step Guide

 

3. CONSIDERATIONS FOR PRACTICE AFTER BIA ACCREDITATION

EOIR Fact Sheet on Professional Conduct Rules for Immigration Attorneys and Representatives

CLINIC's Core Standards for Charitable Immigration Programs

Model Code of Professional Responsibility for BIA Accredited Representatives

Prohibition Against Providing Legal Services Outside the Office & Expectations of Employees

Applying for Renewal of Agency Staff/Volunteer Accreditation: See page 14 of Step-by-Step Guide

Immigration Advocates Network manual, "Notario Fraud Remedies: A Practice Manual for Immigration Practioners"

 

4. IMMIGRANT COMMUNITY EDUCATION MATERIALS

How to Tell if an Agency is Recognized:

EOIR List of Currently Disciplined Practitioners

Outreach Flyers:

American Bar Association (ABA) Campaign to Fight Notario Fraud

USCIS Information on Finding Legal Advice

USCIS Outreach Materials

Federal Trade Commission Resources

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Managing an Immigration Program: Steps for Creating and Increasing Legal Capacity

Immigration Legal Program Management Self Assessment Tool

Introduction

CLINIC has identified seven areas which, when developed fully, are strong indicators of a successful, charitable legal immigration program. CLINIC offers this self assessment tool to identify program strengths and weaknesses so that improvements can be targeted and purposefully undertaken.

 
Using the Self Assessment Tool

The Self Assessment Tool is a useful way to evaluate progress towards implementation. CLINIC recommends you use the Self Assessment section by section, identifying feasible priorities for necessary improvements. Please contact your Field Support Coordinator for resources and other support when focusing on these program management components.

 

Click Here to download CLINIC's Program Management Self Assessment Tool

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A More Perfect Union: A National Citizenship Plan

The United States is a nation of immigrants united by a common creed and shared values. With 37 million foreign born residents, the United States’ strength and vitality depends on the contributions of its newest members. However, the integration of a population of this magnitude and diversity cannot be assumed. The pressing policy question becomes: what can be done to promote the integration of this record number of immigrants? A More Perfect Union: A National Citizenship Plan proposes a national program to naturalize the eight million immigrants who – based on their years as Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) – may qualify to naturalize, as well as the millions more who will become eligible in the near future.1 Citizenship is a significant marker of immigrant integration and a pre-condition to full membership in our constitutional democracy. As a practical matter, naturalization involves immigrants in a range of integration activities. Yet despite its benefits, the United States does surprisingly little to promote this process. In theory, we want eligible immigrants to naturalize, but in practice we do little to encourage or assist them.

 

A More Perfect Union: A National Citizenship Plan setsforth the resources, activities, and partnerships that would be required to naturalize as many eligible immigrants as possible. It calls for a national mobilization in support of citizenship, identifying the roles of government, immigrant service agencies, and other sectors of society in a coordinated plan. It describes a program that could serve as the linchpin of an emerging U.S. immigrant integration strategy.

 

To download the full report - CLICK HERE

 

CHAPTERS:

CHAPTER 1: THE NEED FOR A NATIONAL CITIZENSHIP PLAN

CHAPTER 2: THE INFRASTRUCTURE OF A NATIONAL CITIZENSHIP PLAN

CHAPTER 3: THE NATURALIZATION APPLICATION PROCESS

CHAPTER 4: BARRIERS & CHALLENGES POSED BY USCIS IN THE NATURALIZATION PROCESS

CHAPTER 5: SYSTEMIC BARRIERS TO CITIZENSHIP THAT CONGRESS CAN ADDRESS

CHAPTER 6: THE CITIZENSHIP TEST

CHAPTER 7: PREPARING IMMIGRANT LEARNERS FOR CITIZENSHIP

CHAPTER 8: CHARACTERISTICS OF A SUCCESSFUL LOCAL CITIZENSHIP PLAN

CHAPTER 9: NATURALIZATION GROUP APPLICATION WORKSHOPS

CHAPTER 10: RECENT NATURALIZATION AND CITIZENSHIP PROJECTS - LESSONS LEARNED FOR A NATIONAL CITIZENSHIP PROGRAM

CHAPTER 11: SECTORS OF SOCIETY SUPPORTING A NATIONAL CITIZENSHIP PROGRAM

CHAPTER 12: COMMENTARIES

 

Case Management Toolkit

This toolkit is intended to facilitate the process of designing and/or improving the case management system in your immigration program.  In a legal immigration context, case management system consists of: policies and procedures; forms; a database; and files used by legal representatives in a standardized manner for the purposes of delivering professional services and avoiding errors that can result in malpractice and liability.

For an agency just starting an immigration program you may be asking a series of questions:  How will your immigration program deliver services to clients? How do you conduct intake? How do you select cases for representation? How do you collect fees? What systems does your office have in place to ensure that your staff is working effectively and efficiently, and avoiding malpractice and liability issues? How do you track deadlines and caseload priorities?

For more established immigration programs you may be asking these same questions if your office does not have standardized case management policies and procedures in place or if your office finds that the current system is not effective in delivering client services.  

Having a well-designed case management system is essential to running a responsible legal immigration program.  It helps to ensure uniformity, consistency, and high quality work produced by staff, and helps managers more easily supervise a program.  For new immigration programs, it is wise to establish a standardized case management system in the early stages of program development, even before services are provided.  For established programs it is wise to revisit and revise your current case management policies and procedures to standardize them and ensure they are working for all stakeholders: the parent organization leadership, program director, staff, clients, and funders.

This toolkit reviews the essential components of case management.   It provides various resources to help your immigration program design and implement an effective case management system.  For organizations providing Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) immigration services, there are additional considerations when designing your case management system noted throughout the toolkit. 

The toolkit is divided into three sections: Thinking About Case Management; Developing Case Management Policies and Procedures; and Immigration Case Management Tools consisting of case management database and case management forms.  We encourage you to review all sections of this toolkit for a comprehensive understanding of case management system.

  • Provides fundamental information about the case management system and its different components.

Developing Case Management Policies and Procedures

  • Discusses the importance of establishing and documenting step-by-step policies and procedures.

Immigration Case Management Tools

  • Provides information about the types of tools available.  These include case management databases (software and web-based) and forms commonly used for program management and client services

Tell CLINIC What You Think or Need

CLINIC welcomes your feedback on this toolkit, including suggestions or recommendations for additional materials you would like to see on this webpage.  If you have any feedback or questions, please contact Martin Gauto at mgauto@cliniclegal.org .

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Top 5 Transition Issues in Program Management

What do I do when the only BIA representative on staff decides to leave our program without anyone else authorized to practice and continue representing the existing caseload? What’s involved in hiring our nonprofit’s first attorney on staff? What needs to be done if the new Program Director doesn’t know immigration law? What can be done proactively or reactively if we lose our one big grant?

Staff and resource transitions are not uncommon in the life of an immigration program. Unfortunately, not enough programs plan ahead to prevent from losing its ability to practice immigration law through an authorized representative when there’s staff turnover or when revenue streams fluctuate. We hope to address a few complicated scenarios that programs have faced in our network. Presenters will pinpoint the challenges, offer solutions, and share best practices on how to tackle these scenarios head on so services can continue without interruption. Join CLINIC’s Capacity Building Section Project Attorney, Silvana Arista, and Field Support Coordinator, Nathaly Perez, as well as guest speaker Religious Immigration Section Director, Miguel Naranjo, to learn more!

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Center for Immigrant Integration (May 2015 Updates)

CENTER FOR IMMIGRANT INTEGRATION

By Louise Maria Puck, Intern

CLINIC’s new Center for Immigrant Integration seeks to encourage and facilitate the development of immigrant integration initiatives throughout its network through the creation of resources and trainings and through the dissemination of best practices currently present in CLINIC affiliate agencies.

 

This month, the Center has several new developments.

 

New Resources!

Funding Available

The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans Class of 2016 is now open.  Thirty outstanding New Americans will be awarded $90,000 toward their graduate school studies in the U.S. The thirty recipients will be selected for their potential to make significant contributions to U.S. society, culture, or their academic field. The most recent group of recipients is extremely diverse in terms of family heritage, fields of study and New American status. Applications are due on November 1, 2015.

New Blog Article

Read CLINIC’s overview of the Federal Strategic Action Plan on Immigrant & Refugee Integration and CLINIC’s involvement.

Affiliate Highlights

Learn about Project Hope, a CLINIC affiliate located in Archbold, Ohio and led by Sister Ellen Lamberjack. This program promotes immigrant integration by offering legal services, education on rights and responsibilities to newcomers, and by celebrating immigrants’ success with an annual reception for new citizens.

 

ESL Resources

New! The USCIS offers free training for adult educators, program directors, volunteers, and representatives from immigrant-serving organizations. These seminars are offered around the country and are designed to enhance the skills needed to teach U.S. history, civics for the naturalization process.

 

Looking for innovative ways to promote and encourage immigrant integration in the workplace? Learn more about the Building Skills Partnership, located in several California counties.

Outside Resources

Looking for resources on different approaches to writing about migration and integration? Many higher education institutions in both Europe and the U.S. focus on immigrant integration.

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CLINIC Helps Indiana Welcome Newcomers

By Jeff Chenoweth

Across the country CLINIC and its 260-plus affiliates strive to welcome newcomers who seek to reunite with long-separated family members, work for fair wages with dignity, and find legal protections in the United States from persecution in their countries of origin. Helping our country, state, or local community to be welcoming to immigrants isn’t always easy, but it is the right thing to do. Indiana is a case in point.

Indiana’s population of 6.5 million people comprises a modest, but rising, number of immigrants: 4.8 percent in 2013, up from 1.7 percent in 1990 and 3.1 percent in 2000. Thirty-five percent of Indiana’s foreign-born population includes naturalized U.S. citizens eligible to vote.  Latino and Asian populations are growing. Indiana hosts the largest number of Burmese people in the United States, most having arrived as refugees. Recent studies show the positive impact of immigration on Indiana’s economy.

Even so, Indiana, like some other states, finds it difficult to establish immigrant-friendly policies. Currently, Indiana does not offer in-state tuition to undocumented youth who have grown up in Indiana and graduated high school. The state does not offer driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. Indiana is one of the states suing the Obama Administration over President Obama’s executive action on immigration announced in November 2014.

Against this backdrop of demographic changes and political debates are a growing number of charitable nonprofits carrying out their mission to serve immigrants. CLINIC has played an important role in supporting those who welcome immigrants in Indiana.

CLINIC’s network has eight affiliates in Indiana, up from one ten years ago. CLINIC’s first affiliate was Catholic Charities of Fort Wayne-South Bend due to its increasing refugee resettlement program serving Burmese, Iraqis, and people of other nationalities. Since that time, seven more nonprofits have started providing immigration legal services and joined CLINIC. These include: La Casa in Goshen; Hispanic Connections of Southern Indiana in New Albany; Catholic Charities Diocese of Evansville; Lafayette Urban Ministries; La Casa de Amistad, Inc. in South Bend; Sisters of Saint Benedict Immigration Outreach in Ferdinand; and Catholic Charities of Indianapolis. Together, these immigration programs have 19 staff providing immigration legal services. At this time, CLINIC is consulting with Catholic entities in Gary to consider how to expand immigration legal services there. Thus, all corners and the center of the state have a CLINIC affiliate to serve immigrants.

CLINIC’s recent efforts helping Lafayette Urban Ministries (LUM) clearly illustrates how this need is being met. As written on its website: “Lafayette Urban Ministry is the Church in service to others. More than 40 congregations from 20 different faith traditions work together to bring compassion and justice to Lafayette’s needy children and families.”

Their story begins in 2012 when then-Senator Richard Lugar lost the Republican Senate primary. Susan Brouillette found herself out of a job after working for the senator for 20 years as a constituent case worker. In that position, Susan helped many immigrants with their immigration legal matters. LUM quickly hired Susan to conduct policy advocacy to benefit the poor and to start an immigration legal program. Susan reached out to CLINIC. She began attending CLINIC immigration law trainings to eventually seek authorization to practice as a non-attorney under Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) accredited representative status. CLINIC gave Susan a “road map” on how to start and sustain a program. Susan and her colleagues dedicated many hours to training, organizational planning for policies and procedures, and developing case management forms used to serve immigrant clients. In June 2014, LUM gained authorization to practice and opened their office for services. It is the first and only charitable immigration legal program within a 60-mile radius.

Susan Brouillette says, “CLINIC guided us through the process of obtaining our accreditation and recognition from the Board of Immigration Appeals. With CLINIC's help, we were able to get BIA approval on our first attempt, which in turn allowed us to meet our internal deadline for opening our clinic. In addition, CLINIC has provided us with guidance on best practices to help us build a sound program and develop increased capacity.  CLINIC has also kept us informed and updated on legislative actions, policies, and immigration regulations. CLINIC has been an invaluable partner in serving the immigrant community in North Central Indiana. We are grateful to be a member of CLINIC and would be directionless without it.”

CLINIC is excited by the rapid increase in affiliates in Indiana and the growth of services delivered to low-income immigrants across the state.

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CLINIC Newsletter - March 2015 - VOL. XIX No. 3

In this issue…         

In-Country Refugee Processing: What Can You Do?

Immigration Law Updates

News From the Catholic Network

Question Corner

Center for Immigrant Integration

Technical Assistance and Trainings

Visa Bulletin

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How to Offer Tax Preparation Assistance Services at your Agency

Good moral character is a requirement for naturalization applicants. Paying taxes is one way to establish good moral character, and immigration legal service programs and their agencies can easily assist their clients with this important task. In preparation for the 2015 tax season, attend this webinar to learn quick and easy ways to establish this service within your own agency. Learn how offering tax assistance preparation services promotes immigrant integration within your agency and community. Learn from the experiences of Frank Sanchez of the Telamon Corporation and Alma Vasquez of Catholic Charities of East Tennessee as they explain how they offer this service to their communities, the steps they took to establish the service, and the impact it has had on clients.

 

Held 12/11/14

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CLINIC Newsletter - November 2014 - VOL. XVIII No. 11

 In this issue…                       

BIA Issues Three Decisions on Recognition and Accreditation

Haitian Family Reunification Program To Be Implemented in 2015

News From the Catholic Network

Update from Ciudad Juarez  

USCIS Updates DACA FAQs

Immigration Updates

Law and Practice Feature

Question Corner

Technical Assistance and Trainings

Resources

Position Openings

                                                                                

Visa Bulletin                                                                                                                                                             

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Webinar: DACA Now – Administrative Relief Next: Evaluation for Success

Held November 12th, 2014

Is evaluation a component of your program?  This webinar offers various recommendations on what to evaluate and how.  CLINIC will feature how DACA services, past and present, are important lessons learned when planning to implement even larger-scale services. 

Nearly 600,000 DACA applications have been approved out of an estimated 1.7 million eligible.  Is this success?  What outcomes have occurred in the lives of DACA recipients? 

President Obama’s anticipated announcement of administrative relief may benefit up to 5 million people. Evaluation skills and using the DACA experience will help you implement administrative relief for large numbers of people previously unseen.  This webinar will provide techniques to not only evaluate numbers as data points but create “story points” to market your program’s success.

Presenters include Michelle Sardone, Legalization Program Program Director, Jeff Chenoweth, Capacity Building Section Director and Noemi Guzman, Program Coordinator/BIA Full Accredited Representative at Catholic Charities of Central Florida in Orlando.

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Presentation: Creating and Managing Sub Offices

Do you serve a large region with one office and wish to expand using sub offices or other spaces? Are you planning to expand your service delivery models to other locations once President Obama announces administrative relief before the end of the year? Perhaps you’ve considered expanding to an additional location but aren’t quite sure where to start.

This presentation will provide information about various components of setting up and managing a legal services sub office and share best practices that demonstrate how strong case management systems are key to a professional and healthy immigration program.

 

 

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Webinar: Partnering with Law Schools

Are you interested in partnering with law schools? Join us for this free webinar on ways to form successful partnerships with law schools that both increase legal capacity for your organization and train the next generation of legal advocates. This webinar will present actual partnership models. Topics to be discussed are: summer internships, externships for school credit, short term projects, alternative breaks, clinical courses, and working with student-run public interest groups.

The webinar will include presentations from:

  • Wafa Abdin, Vice President of Immigration and Refugee Services, Cabrini Center for Immigrant Legal Assistance in Houston;
  • Lindsay Toczylowski, Directing Attorney, Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project, Catholic Charities of Los Angeles; and
  • Margaret Martin, Supervising Attorney, Catholic Charities of New York.
  • The webinar will be moderated by CLINIC Field Support Coordinator Martin Gauto.
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How to Create a Citizenship Education Program

Are you interested in providing more comprehensive citizenship and immigrant integration services? Join us for this free webinar on citizenship education programs. We discuss how and why legal service providers are well-positioned to offer citizenship classes; present key components of a successful citizenship education program; provide resources and next steps for implementing a program; and hear from a local affiliate with recent experience in starting a citizenship education program. The presenters are Rommel Calderwood, CLINIC Project Coordinator; Laura Burdick and Leya Speasmaker, CLINIC Field Support Coordinators; and Ellen Witoff, Immigration Specialist with Catholic Charities of Buffalo.

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CLINIC Newsletter - July 2014 - VOL. XVIII No. 7

In this issue…                        

Protecting the Vulnerable:  Unaccompanied Immigrant Children

U. S. Department of State Updates Foreign Affairs Manual Guidance

News From the Catholic Network

  • New Subscribers
  • Network Affiliate Agency Profile                                                                                                                                                                      

Advocacy Update


Immigration Law Update

                                                                                                                                                  
Technical Assistance and Trainings

 

Resources

Visa Bulletin

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Catholic Charities of Indianapolis Expands its Welcome to New Americans

By Jeff Chenoweth

Director, Capacity Building Section

 

The Midwest has a history as being a gateway for immigrants, even if not as heralded as port cities in the east and west.  Think of Chicago with its diverse ethnic population as early as the late 1800’s, especially among Eastern Europeans, that continues today with the largest Bosnian refugee population in the country.  Think also of Detroit, Motor City, at the turn of the Twentieth century when the Ford Motor Company attracted immigrant workers from Southern Europe and the Middle East to build the earliest automobiles.  Detroit now has the largest Middle Eastern population in the United States, most recently welcoming tens of thousands of Iraqi refugees.

Indianapolis, albeit smaller than Chicago and metro Detroit, is another Midwest city with a growing immigrant population.  Catholic Charities of Indianapolis is expanding the city’s welcome for many New Americans.  In recent years, Catholic Charities of Indianapolis has resettled over 500 refugees on an annual basis; people recognized by the U.S. government as requiring safety from persecution in their country of origin.  Other nonprofits in the city are welcoming more refugees, thereby increasing the number and diversity of the population.  In response to crises around the world – whether in Burma, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, or Democratic Republic of Congo – Indianapolis is giving a safe haven and a fresh start to some of the world’s most vulnerable persons.  Indianapolis also has a growing number of other immigrants, particularly Hispanics, who have arrived to join close relatives and work in jobs not easily filled.

While the city prospers with additional young workers paying taxes and refurbishing older homes, there is an accompanying need for affordable immigration legal representation.  This is particularly true for low-income wage earners who too easily fall prey to the wrong type of help from unauthorized practitioners or see highly priced, private attorneys as their only option.

Catholic Charities developed an agency-wide strategic plan that recognized this need.  In 2011, CLINIC invited Catholic Charities’ leadership to a one-day seminar on how to start and sustain a charitable-based immigration legal program that would augment its existing and highly successful refugee resettlement program.  Catholic Charities embraced the idea, began to follow CLINIC’s “road map” to build a program, and joined CLINIC’s network.  It is now one of CLINIC’s 250 affiliates that operate in 46 states and over 330 cities.  This is the largest immigration service provider network in the country.

CLINIC was able to facilitate Catholic Charities’ program development by raising funds for capacity building from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Office of Citizenship.  These funds for naturalization legal services and citizenship preparation classes were aimed at increasing the number of naturalized citizens in underserved communities.  Catholic Charities successfully competed nationally for the two-year funds through CLINIC and began implementing its legal and educational services for aspiring citizens. 

“Becoming an immigration legal representative at a Catholic nonprofit is one of the biggest surprises of my life,” says Tim Winn, Immigration Program Supervisor at Catholic Charities of Indianapolis.  Tim’s academic background prior to joining Catholic Charities was a degree in religious studies and art.  Refugee resettlement seemed like a worthwhile and intriguing job for someone looking to serve others.  “Working for several years with refugees and seeing their many talents but also needs, including legal services to reunite their families and become engaged citizens, inspired me to learn U.S. immigration law and how to be a competent and ethical legal representative.  I love what I do.”  Although Tim doesn’t have a law degree, he is an accredited representative who is authorized to practice immigration law and represent immigrants in administrative proceedings by the Department of Justice’s Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).

Tim and his colleague, Flor Bickel – a native Spanish speaker who is also a BIA accredited representative – each successfully completed more than 40 hours of CLINIC immigration law and management training.  They were assisted by the talents of two attorneys from Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic (NCLC) who offered legal supervision and direct services.  In addition, “Having Mike McCarthy as our Volunteer Coordinator has definitely increased our visibility and capacity to serve more people.  Our naturalization workshops joining would-be citizens with trained volunteers to complete applications for naturalization have been a big success,” says Tim.  The focus of their efforts is those seeking to become U.S. citizens and reunite with families. This continues to be the backbone of the program’s scope of services, aided by strong community partnerships with NCLC, two Burmese refugee community centers, Catholic parishes, libraries, Indiana University Maurer School of Law and volunteers. 

 

As Catholic Charities’ expertise and affordable services became more widely known, Flor became full-time, Tim became the Immigration Legal Program Supervisor following completion of his Master’s in Business Administration degree, and Christine Sego Caldwell was hired in 2014 as the program’s first attorney.  A second attorney is expected to be hired this year.

Increased staff time, broader management and legal knowledge, and new services are capacity building benchmarks for a charitable immigration legal program.  As Tim states, “Legal support is very helpful to me because I run into complicated issues.  CLINIC’s training and technical support quickly help us solve problems and implement proven best practices used by more experienced charitable programs around the country.  With CLINIC’s experts and rich material I feel like I’m on the inside of my profession. I can see how my management of our limited financial resources and staff time have improved and made a positive and long-lasting difference in the lives of our immigrant clients.”

Tim, Flor, Mike and Christine plan to be busy this year helping more young people eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) – those who qualify for work authorization and relief from deportation because they were brought to the U.S. as minors in the care of their undocumented parents.  Renewal for the two-year status is just beginning and new applicants are welcome to apply, including those who are aging into eligibility.  More students are attending citizenship classes at Level I and graduating into Level II as they ready themselves to take the citizenship test and Oath of Allegiance.  Refugees continue to be served with petitions to USCIS to reunify husbands, wives, and minor children separated by war, genocide, and political upheavals.  Also on the staff’s “to do” list is to prepare for comprehensive immigration reform should Congresses pass a bill that would make immigration in the U.S. more relevant to the nation’s labor force needs, humanize and add fairness to the system, and grant legal status to an estimated 40,000 undocumented immigrants living in Indianapolis and surrounding cities.

CLINIC is proud of what Catholic Charities of Indianapolis has done in a few, short years.  Positive capacity building outcomes like this one give CLINIC confidence to assist more nonprofits, Catholic and others, to build charitable immigration legal services.

 

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Webinar: Establishing a Strong Case Management System: Part II

A strong case management system is key to a healthy immigration legal program. A strong case management system helps ensure consistency, uniformity, and a high quality of work. It balances the interests of the client in getting the best and speediest representation with those of the agency in providing services efficiently. Join us for Part II of this series. It will focus on case file organization standards, case notes standards, a filing system, case closing procedures, and a tickler system to ensure important deadlines are not missed. The presenters are Director of CLINIC's Capacity Building Section Jeff Chenoweth, and CLINIC Attorney and Field Support Coordinator Martin Gauto.

Held 5/13/14

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Establishing a Strong Case Management System: Part I

Held 4/29/14

A strong case management system is key to a healthy immigration legal program and helps ensure consistency, uniformity, and a high quality of work. It balances the interests of the client in getting the best and speediest representation with those of the agency in providing services efficiently. Join us for Part I of a two-part webinar training on case management. During this webinar we will begin a discussion of the essential elements of a good case management system, including: policy and procedures manuals, intake procedures and forms, case selection criteria and procedures, scope of representation, retainer agreements and a tickler system that ensures the agency doesn't miss client deadlines.  The presenters are Director of CLINIC's Capacity Building Section Jeff Chenoweth, and CLINIC Attorney and Field Support Coordinator Martin Gauto.

Download the Powerpoints for "Establishing a Strong Case Management System: Part I"

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All About BIA Recognition & Accreditation

Would you like to know more about how your nonprofit agency and staff can become authorized to provide immigration legal services? Join us for this webinar training on Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) agency recognition and staff accreditation. BIA agency recognition and staff accreditation is the Department of Justice's certification of nonprofit legal immigration programs and their staff. It allows non-attorneys to practice immigration law as authorized representatives. Increasing the number of BIA recognized agencies, locations, and accredited staff will be essential for implementing Comprehensive Immigration Reform and serving the millions of immigrants who will be eligible for relief. During this webinar, we will discuss the requirements for recognition and accreditation; the process for submitting an application; and the latest BIA developments. The presenters are CLINIC Attorney Silvana Arista and CLINIC Field Support Coordinator Laura Burdick.

 

Click Here to download the Powerpoints for this webinar.

 

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New Capacity Building and Immigrant Integration Resources

By Leya Speasmaker

Immigrant integration is the ultimate goal of the work the CLINIC network does each day as our affiliates assist eligible immigrants to pursue immigration benefits. CLINIC announces the creation of new tools designed to help your program promote and encourage immigrant integration within your community.  Two new self assessment tools are now available on our website.

  • The Immigration Legal Program Management Self Assessment is a useful way to evaluate progress towards implementation of the seven areas which CLINIC views as strong indicators of a successful, charitable legal immigration program.  CLINIC offers this self assessment tool to identify program strengths and weaknesses so that improvements can be targeted and purposefully undertaken.

CLINIC has also consolidated all its resources on immigrant integration into one place on our website.

Additionally, CLINIC's Core Standards have been revised to include immigrant integration recommendations for all programs to pursue.

CLINIC would like to assist you in developing immigrant integration programs. If you would like your program highlighted, or if you are interested in learning more about immigrant integration or how to develop program outcomes related to immigrant integration, please contact Leya Speasmaker at lspeasmaker@cliniclegal.org. We will continue to update the website, so please check back often. If there are resources that you would like to see CLINIC offer, please let Leya know.

Please inform all agency staff engaged in serving the foreign born, as we are not just offering this to legal staff but all those who serve immigrants in their daily work.

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Webinar: Top Ten Issues in Program Management

Join CLINIC for a conversation about the top most common program management issues and how program managers resolve them. Topics will range from the equipment and tools needed for an immigration legal service program to tracking cases data and deadlines to setting a budget for staff professional development. Capacity Building director Jeff Chenoweth and Field Support Coordinator Leya Speasmaker will be presenting.

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CLINIC Newsletter - February 2014 - VOL. XVIII No. 2

In this issue…                        

  • Visa Bulletin                                                                                              
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CLINIC Concludes Successful Two-Year National Capacity Building Grant

By Laura Burdick

In December 2013, CLINIC completed a two-year, $600,000 national capacity building project funded by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Office of Citizenship.  The goal of this project was to build the long-term capacity of local affiliate agencies to provide high quality, comprehensive citizenship preparation services to Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs). Through this project, CLINIC provided technical assistance and funding to four local affiliate agencies to establish new programs in ESL/citizenship education and/or naturalization application assistance.  The four local agencies were Catholic Charities of Indianapolis, IN; Catholic Charities of Los Angeles, CA; Catholic Services of Syracuse, NY; and Catholic Charities of Worcester, MA.  Each local affiliate received a sub-grant of $112,500.

The funder required CLINIC to conduct a formal program evaluation analyzing the effectiveness of the capacity building and technical assistance activities and the gains achieved by the local affiliate agencies, and to write a final evaluation report at the project’s conclusion.  The final evaluation noted that all four of CLINIC’s local affiliate agencies are now authorized to provide immigration legal services (two obtained BIA recognition and two were already recognized), and all are staffed by BIA accredited representatives. Through this project, CLINIC helped 12 staff at three agencies to obtain accreditation (three applications are still pending but are expected to be approved shortly).  All four programs now have well-developed, sustainable citizenship education and legal programs as anticipated under this grant. These educational and legal services meet the benchmarks identified by CLINIC for quality and professionalism.

CLINIC’s local affiliate agencies provided citizenship education services to 952 students (86% of their collective goal of 1,110 students) and prepared and submitted 1,288 citizenship applications (125% of their collective goal of 1,030 applications).  To date, 873 LPRs have successfully naturalized under this project, and the overall pass rate across all four sites on the citizenship test was 94%. Collectively, the project served LPRs from more than 50 countries, with the highest numbers from Mexico, Burma, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Liberia. Many of the clients served by this project were refugees or immigrants who have special challenges in the naturalization process such as low income or low levels of literacy and formal education.

CLINIC greatly appreciates the Office of Citizenship’s generous support for this project.  We hope to have more opportunities in the future to do naturalization capacity building work and to apply the promising practices and lessons learned in this project.

 

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Partnership Toolkit

Partnerships are a valuable tool for any organization looking to expand or strengthen services in the community. In a well-functioning partnership, all members contribute ideas to the group, coordinate dates and events so that all can participate, and mutually benefit from the partnership. There are several ways to establish a partnership and many tools to use that can help organize and manage the operations.  This toolkit includes sample materials for managing a partnership, guidelines for working within a partnership, and tips on what to look for in a potential partner.

 

Please contact Leya Speasmaker at lspeasmaker@cliniclegal.org if you have any questions or comments about this toolkit.

 

Download this Toolkit!

 

 

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Asylee Eligibility for Resettlement Assistance Guide

This guide is designed to give service providers the tools and information needed to address the barriers to resettlement and integration faced by asylees and to better assist their clients.  It contains crucial and timely information about the benefits and services for which asylees are eligible, including job placement assistance, English language classes, health screening, temporary cash and medical assistance, social security cards, employment authorization cards, adjustment of status, I-94s, travel authorization, petitioning for immediate relatives, and federal student financial aid.

 

To download the full guide - CLICK HERE

Webinar: CLINIC's National Naturalization Radio Campaign

CLINIC is launching its first, national naturalization radio campaign in Spanish.  It will be aired in up to 250 Spanish radio outlets. The public service announcement (PSA) will be released four times across a Spanish radio network.  As such, CLINIC offers this brief webinar to help affiliates (members and subscribers) prepare a response to an increase in naturalization inquiries caused by the campaign aired in your community.

CLINIC is experimenting with this large-scale PSA format to: 1) increase interest in naturalization among the LPR community; 2) increase the visibility of CLINIC’s national network of affiliates; and 3) serve as a test-case for future PSAs addressing comprehensive immigration reform if a bill passes into law. 

 

Click here to access and listen to the audio file of the radio PSA 

(To download a copy of this PSA, right click the link above and select "Save Link As")

 

 

Held on 11/4/13

Presenters:

Jeff Chenoweth (Capacity Building Section Director)

Rommel Calderwood (Project Coordinator)

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Harnessing the Power of Partnerships

Held April 22 2013

This webinar training covers how to develop and use partnerships effectively and what resources you can use to manage them. Programs already benefitting from strong partnerships talk about their experiences and provide tips on how to seek out and pursue this type of working relationship. We also talk about how best to reduce the impact of notarios and encourage immigrants to seek out authorized immigration legal services.

Copies of the presentation slides can be found by clicking HERE, or downloaded below.

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State Identity theft Bill: An Analysis of South Dakota’s House Bill 1159 (Feb 2013)

Overview:  HB 1159 creates state-level penalties relating to identity theft and employment.

Section 1:  This first section amends current South Dakota Law regarding identity theft.  In general, it provides that a person commits identity theft if that person takes, uses, transfers, etc. the identifying information of another person with the intent to deceive or defraud.  It also provides that identity theft occurs when a person accesses or attempts to access the financial resources of another person by using identifying information.

Identity theft committed in this section is a Class 6 felony.  

Section 2:  This section is new.  It has two subsections.  The first subsection is geared toward employees.  The second subsection is geared toward employers.  Basically, Section 2(1)states that a person commits identity theft if the person attempts to use another person’s identifying information with the intent to obtain or continue employment.  Section 2(2) states that a person commits identity theft if, in hiring an employee, the person accepts any personal identifying information of another person from an individual,  knowing that the individual is not the actual person identified by that information, and uses that identity information to determine if the individual has the legal right and authorization to work in the U.S. under federal law.    

Identity theft committed in this section is a Class 6 felony.  

Analysis:   These sections do not appear to violate federal law as states can pass laws that relate to identity theft.  However, it is worth noting that Section 2 could be considered duplicative of federal laws and federal efforts to curb identity fraud.  Indeed, the federal government has strong fraud and false statement laws in the area of employment, including an Aggravated Identity Theft statute—18 USC Section 1028A.  This federal statute has been used by prosecutors to bring cases against individuals for using false documents to gain employment knowing that the document belonged to someone else.  Along with the Aggravated Identity Theft Statute, the federal government has other laws that prohibit document fraud, such as:  (1) 18 USC. Section 1546 for Fraud and Misuse of Visas, Permits, and other Documents; and, (2) Section 274C of the INA, 8 USC Section 1324c Penalties for Document Fraud.      

Additionally, the federal government has courts, prosecutors and investigative agencies that all have experience and expertise in this area and are actively prosecuting fraud and identity theft cases in federal courts across the country.  Further, the federal government established in 2006, a Document and Benefit Fraud Task Forces (DBFTF).  According to ICE, the DBFTFs were created "to target, seize illicit proceeds of and dismantle the criminal organizations that threaten national security and public safety and address the vulnerabilities that currently exist in the immigration process."  The DBFTFs work in partnership with other agencies including, the Department of Labor, the Social Security Administration, U.S. Postal Service, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of State and various state and local law enforcement agencies. These task forces focus their efforts on detecting, deterring and disrupting document fraud. 

In summary, given the federal government’s expertise and resources in the area of document and identity fraud, a strong argument can be made that this bill is unnecessary because it duplicates the efforts of the federal government.  This bill will likely burden the taxpayers of South Dakota by adding to the case load of state investigators, prosecutors and judges.    

 

This document was prepared for CLINIC in February 2013 by Karen A. Herrling.  This document is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.  For questions, please contact CLINIC’s State & Local Advocacy Attorney Jen Riddle at jriddle@cliniclegal.org or (202) 635-7410.

Volunteer Management Toolkit

Many tasks in an immigration legal services program can be completed by volunteers. Using volunteers when possible frees up staff time that can be devoted to offering more services to clients. This toolkit contains helpful information on how best to use volunteers in your program, how to recruit and retain volunteers, and how to incorporate them into your program’s plan for the passage of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Sample forms are included as well as sample volunteer job descriptions.

If you have questions regarding this toolkit, please send these to Leya Speasmaker at lspeasmaker@cliniclegal.org.

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Making Technology Work for Your Program Part 4: Network Technology Innovations

April 24, 2012

Join us for Part 4 in a four part series for a presentation of tech innovations within the CLINIC network. We'll learn about CitizenshipWorks, a program designed to assist local programs in helping clients naturalize. We'll also learn from several network affiliates about innovative ways they've used technology in their offices and how it has impacted the way they reach the public. Leya Speasmaker, Field Support Coordinator in CLINIC's Washington DC office moderates the discussion.

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Making Technology Work for Your Program Part 3: Case Management Software

Join us for Part 3 in a four part series for a conversation about case management software and other database capabilities. Topics will include why to use case management software, how to choose a software package, and how best to use software in your daily work. Jack Holmgren, a Field Support Coordinator in CLINIC's San Francisco office, will moderate the discussion.

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Comments Regarding Proposed Changes to Regulations Governing Recognition and Accreditation

The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) submitted these comments on March 30, 2012 in response to the Executive Office for Immigration Review’s (EOIR) proposal to amend the regulations governing the recognition of organizations and accreditation of representatives who appear before EOIR.

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Making Technology Work for Your Program Part 2: Effectively Using Social Media and Outreach Tools

Join us for Part 2 in a four part series as we talk about how best to use social media and outreach tech tools to increase the visibility of your program on the internet.  We'll compare the current options such as blogging, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter and examine the pluses and minuses of using each one.  We'll also talk about sources for tech support, particularly for non-profits.

Held on February 28, 2012.

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Making Technology Work for Your Program Part 1: Introduction to Office Technology Tools

Join us for Part 1 in a four part series as we explore quick and easy tech upgrades your program can make to improve communication and service to the community . We'll talk about technological changes coming down the pike from USCIS and why it is important to get a jump start on planning for those today. We will also hear from several members of CLINIC staff give tips on how best to access technology used by our organization to better serve our network. Leya Speasmaker, Field Support Coordinator in CLINIC's Washington D.C. office will moderate the discussion on how best to leverage the power of technology to your program's advantage.

Held on January 31, 2012.

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Spotlight on Integration: 6 Part Series

Looking for ideas to promote and encourage immigrant integration within your community? CLINIC offers this 6 part series that spotlights immigrant integration initiatives across our network. Learn the definition of immigrant integration, its importance for our network and nation, and how it can be promoted locally. Featured programs encourage relationships between the receiving community and immigrants, give elderly refugees a place to use skills gained in their home countries, and connect asylees with available resources.

Please contact Leya Speasmaker at lspeasmaker@cliniclegal.org if you would like for one of your projects to receive the spotlight.

 

Spotlight on Integration:  October 2010
Immigrant Integration and Why it Deserves the Spotlight

Spotlight on Integration:  November 2010
St. James English as a Second Language Program in Seattle, Washington

Spotlight on Integration:  December 2010
New York State Immigration Hotline and the ORR National Asylee Information and Referral Hotline, Catholic Charities Community Services in New York City, New York

Spotlight on Integration:  January 2011
Garden Project for Older Adult Refugees, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Inc. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Spotlight on Integration:  February 2011
Institute for the Hispanic Family, Catholic Charities of Hartford in Hartford, Connecticut

Spotlight on Integration:  March 2011
The Borromeo Legal Project, St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Arlington, VA

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The Nuts and Bolts of Case Management and Legal Supervision

Held on November 11, 2011.

How do you ensure your case management systems are working effectively? How do you ensure the quality of your immigration work before it is filed? How can you ensure your program is providing quality immigration services?  In this 90 minute webinar, we will discuss the importance of case management and legal supervision in your immigration program. 

You will learn what it is, who can supervise, what supervision entails and where and how often supervision needs to occur.  CLINIC affiliates will be sharing their legal supervision model.  Please join Helen Chen, Field Support Coordinator of CLINIC, Kathleen Walsh, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of Raleigh and Lisa Chun, Supervising Attorney of North Carolina Justice Center. 

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Starting a Legal Immigration Program: Capacity Building in a Charitable Community Agency

The Need for Charitable Legal Immigration Services

Current capacity does not meet current demands for low-cost legal representation in immigration matters. For instance, immigrants eligible and soon-to-be eligible to naturalize as U.S. citizens have less income, education, and English language ability than immigrants who naturalized in previous decades.

It is expected that any significant changes in current immigration law will greatly increase demand for services. One possible change is comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) with an earned pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11.9 million undocumented immigrants2 (commonly referred to as “legalization”).

Lawyers working in private practice and at nonprofit agencies are the major legal service providers to persons in need of legal representation, including non-citizens seeking immigration-related services. Lawyers specifically concentrating in the field of immigration law include the 11,000 members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, as well as thousands of others who focus on immigration law as their primary practice area. For lowincome immigrants, however, legal representation through the private bar is often not an affordable option, as Legal Services Corporation (LSC) “alienage” restrictions on LSC-funded agencies prevent them from providing low-cost services to many non-citizens, including most of the undocumented.

Because of these limitations, many low-income immigrants seek services from other nonprofit agencies, many of which are faith-based and often provide a wide array of both social and legal services. In many instances, these agencies are staffed by non-attorney legal workers who
provide both counseling and direct services to clients. In the field of immigration law, non-attorney legal workers may be authorized to provide legal services to the same extent as an attorney if they become what is known as an “accredited representative” and work for a nonprofit agency
that has applied for and received “recognized agency status.”

Information about the requirements for obtaining this status is included in Appendix 1. To date, there are approximately 700 nonprofit offices with recognized agency status, and approximately 650 persons with accredited representative status. Nearly one-third of the recognized agencies are
affiliate programs of CLINIC.

Top Ten Program Management Issues Facing Immigration Legal Services Programs

CLINIC Capacity Building staff address the top ten most frequent challenges facing immigration legal service programs across the nation. Topics include how to develop a fee schedule, how to minimize risk, and how to create an efficient and effective case management system. Resources will be provided for each issue, and staff will provide tips for tackling these common challenges.  

Leya Speasmaker and Helen Chen are the presenters for this webinar.

Held March 3, 2011.

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Immigration Case Management Tools

A good case management database contains both immigration forms and client-specific information.  The database may be software for stand-alone or networked computers or it may be web-based with the server off-site.  Either way, the choice and utilization of a database is an important investment for your immigration program.  In addition to completing forms, the database helps staff manage the caseload and facilitates the writing of data-rich reports and funding proposals.  Many of the benefits of a database are noted in the “Benefits of Case Management Software” article below.  After creating your policies and procedures manual, you will better know what functions you need or want from a case management database.  The prices and functions of case management databases vary, so you need to research products on the market by talking to the service representative for each vendor and to users of the vendor’s products.  

Immigration Case Management Providers

The information is provided merely as a starting point for readers to research immigration case management solutions. Increasingly, web-based systems are ne cessary for filing applications to the federal government.  Among all case management systems, choosing a vendor that provides responsive technical assistance is important in addition to function and cost.  As such, CLINIC exclusively recommends LawLogix as your best choice.

LawLogix

On February 14, 2012 CLINIC and LawLogix announced an exclusive agreement to provide CLINIC affiliates with added benefits for using LawLogix.  These benefits include special pricing discounts, custom user trainings, and private certification programs designed to promote best practices for immigration case management.  To see a demonstration of LawLogix, visit http://go.lawlogix.com/Demo_Request.html

More info

For more information on the CLINIC and LawLogix exclusive agreement, click here or contact LawLogix directly at:

LawLogix
http://www.lawlogix.com (877-725-4355 ext. 1) or sales@lawlogix.com

EImmigration by Cerenade
http://www.cerenade.com/eimmigration (800)-617-4202 or sales@cerenade.com

ILSForms by Immigration Law Systems, Inc.
http://www.ILSSYS.com (614) 252-3078 or Support@ilssys.com

ImmForms Plus 5.8 (CD-ROM)
http://store.westlaw.com/immforms-plus-5-8/182986/14396936/productdetail   (800) 344-5008
You can also ask about the separate “Immigration Practitioner” package, which is a package of legal research programs.

Immigration Aide (now has a Windows-based program)
http://www.immigrationaide.com (410) 444-3704

INS Zoom.com U.S. Immigration Management System (usIMS)
http://www.inszoom.com (925) 244-0600 or info@inszoom.com

LegalServer by PS Technologies, Inc.
http://legalserver.org (773)-782-1021 ext. 107 or ivashton@psti.net

LexisNexis Immigration Law Interactive Drafting System (IDS)
http://www.lexisnexis.com/store/catalog/booktemplate/productdetail.jsp?pageName=relatedProducts&prodId=prod14540391
800) 833-9844

Tracker by Tracker Corp
http://trackercorp.com/immigration-software.php (888)-411-TRKR or sales@trackercorp.com

 

Immigration Case Management Forms 

Case management forms are essential in immigration practice.  You cannot practice or practice very well without them. Below is a list of commonly used forms by practitioners.   This is not an exhaustive list, but a list to help you think what forms you need for your immigration program.   Each form contains a sample primarily to educate you about the forms’ purpose and content.  We highly encourage you to review the sample forms as educational pieces and to create your own forms that best suit your immigration program.   .

Along with sample forms, review the Case Management Forms Content Checklist.  This checklist  provides suggestions of   information you may want to include in your forms.  You can access this document by clicking on the link above.

For sample forms, please click on the links below.

  • Preliminary Screening Form helps staff quickly identify what kind of assistance an individual requires and whether your immigration program provides such services.  The contents of the form may include the individual’s name and contact information, immigration benefit sought, and language preference.   The form is also useful for capturing data on how many people are coming to your office seeking services, even if their inquiries do not result in an intake. This data can shape your referral list and be useful in planning for future expansion of program services.
  • Intake Form  gathers an individual’s personal information, family information and immigration history to determine their eligibility for an immigration benefit. It is also used during the case selection process to decide if the case will be accepted by the agency.   For VAWA clients, the intake form can serve to identify other social services needed by the client to ensure their safety and well-being.  SeeVAWA Intake Form.
  • Fee Waiver Forms

o Fee Waiver Policy  is used to inform staff and potential clients of the procedure for requesting a fee waiver for an immigration service at your organization.  It is a best practice for fee waiver determinations to be made by someone other than the staff member who will be responsible for working on the case.  Separating the financial and substantive aspects of the case can reduce unnecessary tension or stress from the client/representative relationship.
o Income Reporting Sheet  helps staff determine at intake whether a potential client is eligible for a fee waiver under the terms of your organization’s policy.  
o Fee Waiver Form  is used for staff to document when a fee waiver is granted in a particular case.  The amount to be waived is noted and the form is signed by the client, staff and a supervisor, before being placed in the client’s file.
o Combination Fee Waiver Policy and Request Form  is used to both explain the fee waiver policy and be used to document the organization’s decision on the fee waiver request.

  • Retainer Agreement (also known as Client Agreement or Engagement Letter) formalizes the relationship between the client(s) and the representing agency.  It spells out the type and scope of services provided by the agency, the fees assigned to each service, and the rights and responsibilities of both the client(s) and the agency.  It is worth the time to develop a good retainer agreement.  A well written and thought out retainer agreement can help an agency prevent or minimize future conflicts and liabilities.  Even if your immigration services are free because your program is funded by a grant or by other sources, you still need a retainer agreement.  Providing free services does not absolve your agency from future conflicts and liabilities.  Your agency is still accountable to the client for anything related to their case.  Take the time to complete the retainer agreement and verbally communicate the details of the retainer agreement to your client to ensure they understand it.   If English is not your client’s first language make sure the agreement is translated to their native language or is interpreted to them before they sign it.

o New sample: English/Spanish sample provided by Catholic Charities of Arlington (Hogar).

  • Non-Engagement Letter  informs the individual that your agency will not be accepting their case. The letter may include the reasons as well as referrals to other immigration practitioners.  Often times, individuals assume you are taking their case just because you conducted an intake or provided a consultation.  When you inform them in writing that you are not pursuing their case further, it prevents confusion or misunderstanding.  It also protects your agency from any future disputes or conflicts. 
  • Case Notes creates a record of the work that has been performed on the immigration case.  Staff should keep detailed but concise case notes of what has been done in the case and when it was done, along with their initials or names next to each entry, so that work by more than one legal representative on the same case can be handled more efficiently without errors and mistakes.  (Case notes, like other forms, should be approached as if it is your last day of employment and someone else, yet to be determined, will be responsible for your cases.)
  • Case Transfer Memo reassigns cases due to staff turnover or redistribution of caseload.  The memo summarizes the case history, including client information and actions taken on the case, status of the case, and next steps.  It takes information contained in various documents in the case file and compiles it into a cohesive memo.   This memo increases staff efficiency and ensures services are not interrupted during a period of transition.
  • Case File Review Checklist guides staff on where to place specific documents in a client’s file.  Case files should include copies of all client documents, applications, and work products created on behalf of the client.  It needs to be organized in a standardized method.  Supervisors or other designated individuals need to review the case file periodically to ensure the case file contains all key documents and the documents are placed in a pre-determined manner according to the case file construction policy.
  • Technical Review Checklist provides the reviewer a tool to assess the accuracy and quality of the immigration application before it is filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or Immigration Court. It standardizes the review process to ensure there is uniformity and consistency.   The review takes the form of both legal technical review and editing. Program directors often use the review process to evaluate the quality of their staff’s legal representation and case file management.horization by the client to release his/her information to third parties.  It protects client information from unauthorized disclosure and ensures that the staff maintains client confidentiality.
  • Consent to Release Form is an authorization by the client to release his/her information to third parties.  It protects client information from unauthorized disclosure and ensures that the staff maintains client confidentiality.  
  • Case Removal Sheet keeps track of whohas the case file when it is not in the central filing cabinet.  This is common sense, but may be easily overlooked. Since all case files need to be kept in a locked filing cabinet, it jeopardizes client confidentiality if staff members leave the case files lying around in their office or cubicle when they are not working on them.  The case files belong to the agency, not the staff member.  Thus, the agency’s program director needs to know the whereabouts of all case files if staff is absent, whether planned or due to an emergency, or in the event of case transfers.
  • Case Closing Memo is similar in purpose and content to the Case Transfer Memo in that it facilitates information sharing among staff in the event of case transfers or possible re-opening of a case when an individual qualifies for another immigration benefit.  Information contained in the memo includes summaries of client case background and procedural history, case status, case outcome, and next steps, if any.
  • Client Satisfaction Survey/Feedback helps to assess the quality of services provided to clients for future program improvements and development.  It also helps program managers and directors gather positive program outcomes and quotes for reports to agency leadership or funding proposals.  It is also a great marketing vehicle when used properly and produces another mechanism for evaluating staff performance and commending good performance.
  • Closing Letter to Client helps to formally conclude the relationship between the client and representing agency. Closing letters are generated when:   services have been completed as stated in the retainer agreement; the client has failed to uphold the responsibilities in the agreement; or the agency is no longer able or authorized to represent the client further.  When successfully representing a client in an immigration application, the case is not closed until the client receives the ultimate immigration benefit, not just an approval letter from USCIS or the Immigration Court.  For instance, in an application for Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR), the case should not be closed until the client has the LPR card (commonly referred as the green card) in his/her possession.  Similarly, in a citizenship application, the case is not closed until the client attends the oath ceremony and receives the Naturalization Certificate.  This ensures that the agency fulfills the scope of service listed in the retainer agreement. Once you are certain that the client has received their immigration benefit, you should send them a letter to: congratulate them; notify them that their case will be closed; inform them about the agency’s case retention policy; instruct them on how to access a copy of their case file contents; and inform them of next steps, if any, in their immigration process, including the possibility of helping family members immigrate to the U.S.   You should be sure to include this last point since it solicits an opportunity to serve the client again.

o New Sample: packet of immigration-benefit-specific closing letters provided by Catholic Charities of Arlington (Hogar).

  • Confidentiality Agreement is used for staff, volunteers, and any other individual working on the client case files.  Prior to joining the immigration program, all staff, volunteers, and other individuals with access to case files should be aware of the agency’s confidentiality policy, their responsibilities in upholding it, and the consequences of a breach in confidentiality.   A confidentiality policy should be signed to reinforce the seriousness of the policy and its ethical requirements.   It is also a good idea to reinforce the policy by having an in-house training on confidentiality for new staff (including volunteers) before they begin working on cases and by having trainings on a regular basis to reinforce the policy for existing staff, volunteers, and others involved with client casework.

 

  • Client Grievance Policy and Forms

o Client Grievance Procedure clearly outlines the options for a person to pursue a grievance about the manner or quality of assistance rendered by the program, or denial of services, or about alleged violations of state or federal laws, regulations, or the Clients' Bill of rights.
o Service Recipient Rights and Responsibilities ensures that the client is informed of both the organization’s duty to provide professional and compassionate service and her own duty to participate and assist in the representation.
o Acknowledgement of Receipt of Service Recipient Rights and Responsibilities is signed by the client and placed in the case file to document that the client was advised of her rights and responsibilities.
o Grievance Policy instructs staff to adhere to the Client Grievance Procedure. The goal is to ensure that each client is aware of the process for voicing a complaint or grievance against the organization and that their grievance will be addressed in a just and timely manner.
o Client Grievance Form #1 provides the person with an opportunity to explain the nature of the grievance and for the organization to document what action was taken as a response.
o Client Grievance Form #2 provides another sample for a client to pursue a grievance.

  • Moonlighting Policy specifically prohibits attorney staff from taking on immigration cases outside the agency.  This prevents possible conflicts of interest with the attorney’s work for the agency. It also protects agency staff from stress and burnout.

o   New sample: English/Spanish sample provided by Catholic Charities of Arlington (Hogar).[MG1] 


 [MG1]New link

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Developing Case Management Policies and Procedures

When you are thinking of developing or changing your case management system, solicit your immigration staff to get their feedback, or even better is if they participate in the development or revision of that process.    The system works only if it makes sense to those who have to adhere to, carry out, and manage it.  Once you determined your case management system, document it in a policies and procedures manual.   The rationale behind having a case management policies and procedures manual is the same as having an operating and human resources manual in your agency.  You want to document the information so there is  uniformity, accountability, consistency, and high quality of work among staff.  .  Even if you are a small immigration program with one staff member or provide limited immigration services such as VAWA, you still need a case management policies and procedures manual.  Every agency has staff turnover.  The manual is especially useful during agency transitions to ensure there is no interruption of services and the quality of work provided to clients is maintained.

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Managing Financial Performance

Nominal fees for immigration legal services are a core source of funding to start and sustain charitable programs.  By charging nominal fees you can retain a great deal of control over the financial viability of your program.  Conversely, to not charge fees is to put your program at risk of closing or drastic downsizing.

Does your legal immigration program struggle to know when and how to charge fees to clients?  Learn how to use something more logical and remunerative than the door as your case selection criteria. Does your legal immigration program have financial controls and procedures that will see it grow and meet the challenge of comprehensive immigration reform no matter when it comes?

This webinar is for all programs; experienced start-up and even for those just considering a program.  The presenters are Jack Holmgren, Field Support Coordinator and Jeff Chenoweth, Assistant Director for CLINIC’s Center for Citizenship and Immigrant Communities.  Both presenters are trainers for the Center’s Immigration Program Management classroom and webinar training series.  The presenters have trained and coached numerous programs to develop strong fee-based revenue.

Held in October, 2010.

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Case Management Systems

How do you set up intake? Which cases should you accept for representation? What is a client services agreement? How do you track deadlines and cases? What goes into a case file? What are your responsibilities when you close a case?

This webinar explores the components of case management systems and will illustrate how a strong case management system is essential for a healthy immigration legal services program. This webinar is intended for both experienced program directors and for start-up programs seeking to grow. The presenters on this webinar are Kristina Karpinski, Training and Legal Support Attorney and Helen Chen, Field Support Coordinator for Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.

Held June 24, 2010.

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Staffing Your Immigration Legal Program

Nonprofit immigration legal programs have a range of staffing options. Programs may employ licensed attorneys, law graduates, fully accredited representatives, partially accredited representatives, non-accredited immigration counselors, support staff, interns and volunteers. In this third of a seven part webinar series on immigration program management, the presenter will explore how to optimize your program's performance with careful staffing.

This webinar is intended for experienced program directors and also for start-up programs seeking to grow. Future webinars will present topics contained in CLINIC's immigration program management training manual including; Board of Immigration Appeals agency recognition and staff accreditation; case management systems; managing financial performance;outreach and marketing; and advocacy.

Held March 30, 2010

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Space, Equipment and Tools

While staff is the heart of an immigration program, several other resources are required to keep a program functioning. These include: physical space, computers, software, law library materials, and malpractice insurance.  In this second of a seven-part webinar series on immigration program management, the presenter will discuss the different resources needed to support an immigration legal services program.

This webinar is intended for experienced program directors and also for up-start programs seeking to grow.  Leya Speasmaker, Field Support Coordinator for CLINIC’s Center on Citizenship and Immigrant Communities, is the presenter for this webinar.

Held February 2, 2010

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Space, Equipment and Tools

While staff is the heart of an immigration program, several other resources are required to keep a program functioning. These include: physical space, computers, software, law library materials, and malpractice insurance.  In this second of a seven-part webinar series on immigration program management, the presenter will discuss the different resources needed to support an immigration legal services program.

This webinar is intended for experienced program directors and also for up-start programs seeking to grow.  Leya Speasmaker, Field Support Coordinator for CLINIC’s Center on Citizenship and Immigrant Communities, is the presenter for this webinar.

Held February 2, 2010.

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Building Agency Support for an Immigration Legal Program

This webinar was presented by CLINIC's Center for Citizenship and Immigrant Communities.

Presenters: Jeff Chenoweth, director of CLINIC's Center for Citizenship and Immigrant Communities and Rose Alma Senatore, executive director, Catholic Charities of Hartford, CT.

This webinar discusses ways to recruit more leaders and financial donors in order to grow and sustain charitable legal immigration services for the challenges of today and a new environment for tomorrow.

Held Jan. 13, 2010.

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