Immigration Management Project

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

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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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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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.

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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Immigration Management Project

CLINIC strives to meet the growing needs of new and existing charitable legal programs for low-income immigrants. It pursues these goals, in part, by training and advising local programs on good management practices through the Immigration Management Project.

The Immigration Management Project (IMP) provides training in program advocacy and fundraising skills to nonprofit immigration orgqanizations by working directly with the executive and immigration program directors. The IMP shares best practices that help local providers meet immigrants' needs.

Among other accomplishments, the IMP has:

  • Created and published a manual, entitled "Managing an Immigration Program: Steps for Creating and Increasing Legal Capacity" which contains training curricula based on best practices of leaders in the field of nonprofit immigration.
  • Facilitated the first-ever agreement among immigration law support centers to create the Immigration Advocates Network, an Internet portal for agencies that provide newcomers with immigration-related legal assistance.
  • Provided specialized trainings on how to obtain Board of Immigration Appeals agency recognition and staff accreditation.

For additional information on the Immigration Management Project, please contact Jeff Chenoweth at jchenoweth@cliniclegal.org or 202-635-5826.