Training and Technical Assistance on Building Legal Capacity to Combat Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Against Immigrants

There is a large unmet need for immigration legal services for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and trafficking. Abusers, offenders and perpetrators of crime often use a person's lack of immigration status as a principal control mechanism and a means of exploitation. If immigration legal services are local and available then survivors of crime may regularize their status and be able to leave the abusive relationship or cooperate fully with law enforcement to convict the offender. Lack of capacity to respond to immigration issues puts survivors of crime at a severe disadvantage.

Throughout the country immigrant survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault are often fearful to access legal services or law enforcement because of their legal status. Misinformation leads them to believe that asking for help will lead to their deportation and in some cases, when they do reach out for help, they do not receive proper assistance because of lack of training and misinformation on the part of providers. Many of these survivors do qualify for relief under US immigration law. It is critical that domestic violence and sexual assault advocates are able to address one of their most fundamental needs, to obtain legal status. This project works with domestic violence and sexual assault advocates who wish to establish immigration programs within their existing organizational structures, train their staff on starting and maintaining a legal immigration program and provide them with the knowledge about immigration legal benefits that are available to battered immigrants and skills for delivering immigration legal services.

Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) Recognition & Accreditation (R&A) is the Department of Justice's certification of nonprofit legal immigration programs and their staff. BIA R & A is a process whereby non attorney advocates working at recognized charitable programs can become legally authorized to practice immigration law. There are over 950 recognized organizations with 1800 accredited representatives practicing immigration law and providing low cost immigration services to immigrants and their families. Domestic violence and sexual assault advocates are perfect candidates for BIA accreditation because of their experience working with survivors of trauma, special interviewing skills, access to information that would support an application for U/VAWA or T status, and long-standing relationships with law enforcement and certifying agencies.

The BIA R&A process is open to nonprofit religious, charitable, social service, or similar organization and allows for its non attorney employees or volunteers to become accredited to practice immigration law with authorization. CLINIC staff have committed to providing grantees with one-on-one technical assistance with the BIA recognition and accreditation process. CLINIC is the lead agency working to develop and improve the management of charitable legal programs for immigrants, having established or assisted one-third of all BIA recognized agencies and almost half of all BIA accredited representatives. The following link provides the current BIA roster of national immigration legal service providers recognized with accredited staff by state: http://www.justice.gov/eoir/ra/raroster.htm.

With the support of the Office on Violence Against Women, through its project, Building Legal Capacity to Combat Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Against Immigrants CLINIC provides grantees with substantive immigration law training and assistance with the application for BIA recognition and accreditation. The primary objective of the project is to create and enhance immigration legal services to battered immigrants across the country in underserved communities, including rural areas. The Project will work with domestic violence and sexual assault advocates to establish immigration programs within their existing organizational structures, train their staff on starting and maintaining a legal immigration program, and provide them with the knowledge and skills for delivering legal immigration services. CLINIC will work to increase the number of BIA recognized agency locations and accredited staff in order to respond to the immigration legal services needs of immigrant survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

About Our Substantive Immigration Law Trainings

CLINIC provides on-site, webinar, and e-learning training opportunities for Legal Assistance for Victims, Rural Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Dating Violence and Stalking grantees and partners, as well as recipients of the STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program (STOP) sub grantees.

In 2015-2016, CLINIC anticipates providing the following on-site and e-learning training opportunities for OVW grantees:

OVW In-Person Trainings

The Legal Advocate's Perspective: Board of Immigration Appeals Recognition and Accreditation & Immigration Legal Services for Abused Immigrants

April 27 - April 28, 2016, March 2017

This two-day course is geared towards non-lawyer legal advocates who will be or are currently working with immigrant survivors of domestic violence (DV) or sexual assault (SA). Trainers will combine a basic overview of immigration law with an introduction to legal and case management skills critical to becoming an effective immigration law advocate. This training is designed to help prepare legal advocates to become Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) accredited. BIA accreditation allows non-lawyers to practice immigration law and assist survivors with obtaining lawful immigration status without the abuser’s knowledge or consent.

OVW E-learning Trainings

Selected Issues in VAWA and U Status

June 16 - July 14, 2016

This four-week training will focus on cutting edge or developing topics in self-petitioning under the Violence Against Women Act for survivors of domestic violence and U nonimmigrant Status for victims of certain crimes.  Advocates who have previous training or experience with VAWA or U status cases will have an opportunity to learn about new legal developments, consider strategic issues for applicants and family members, and strengthen their ability to prepare successful applications for VAWA and U status and subsequent adjustment of status.   Topics will include: advanced issues related to derivative beneficiaries; grounds of inadmissibility and waivers; law enforcement certifications, and the annual cap on U status approvals. Throughout the course, the instructors will highlight similarities, differences and strategic considerations in circumstances where the non-citizen may be eligible for both benefits.

 

Ethics, Skills and Program Management

September 7 - 28, 2016

This course covers practice skills such as research,   client interviewing and advocating for clients before DHS. It will also discuss case management strategies and how to deal with ethical issues in the practice of immigration law.

OVW Self Directed E-Learning

Fundamentals of U.S. Immigration Law

Ongoing Self-paced

This self-directed course provides a broad overview of U.S. immigration law.  It is designed for anyone who wants to understand the immigration system, and does not assume that participants have any legal background.  Each of the seven sections of the course covers a core topic in immigration law, including sources of immigration law, government agencies involved in administering immigration law, and how noncitizens gain and lose immigration status. By the end of the course, which takes about 90 minutes to complete, participants will have a solid grounding in immigration law fundamentals, include ng types of lawful immigration status and who qualifies for them; obstacles to gaining lawful status; eligibility for U.S. citizenship; and who is authorized to practice immigration law. Please note that this is an ongoing self-paced course and that it is designed for individuals who have little to no prior immigration law experience and is open to attorneys and advocates.

Registration: This training is open to Legal Assistance for Victims, Rural Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Dating Violence and Stalking grantees and partners, as well as recipients of the STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program (STOP) sub grantees.

 

Fundamentos de la Ley de Inmigración de EE.UU.

Este curso, ofrecido por la Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., proporciona una vision general de las leyes de inmigración de EE.UU. utilizando la narración, imágenes, cuestionarios cortos que ayudan estudiantes a obtener una mejor comprensión así como una evaluación final. El curso toma 90 minutos para completar, pero los usuarios pueden optar por terminar a su propio ritmo. Hay una tarifa de $25 para la inscripción en el curso, que proporciona al participante 30 días de acceso ilimitado a las clases.

Este curso es ideal para:

    • Personas empezando en trabajos juridicos—tanto abogados y no abogados—sin experiencia con inmigración;
    • Personas juridicas que sólo han estado expuestos a una área en particular en las leyes de inmigración, y quiere entender el cuadro más amplio;
    • Practicantes, voluntarios, miembros de juntas y estudiantes de derecho.

OVW Archived Webinars

A list of archived webinars about CLINIC's Training and Technical Assistance to Building Legal Capacity to Combat Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Against Immigrants

OVW Grantee Intro Webinar / PDF Slides

California Domestic Violence Webinar

About BIA Recognition

If you are interested in learning more about BIA recognition and accreditation please visit EOIR’s BIA Recognition and Accreditation Program website page.

You can also access CLINIC’s BIA toolkit which provides a step-by-step guide on how to apply and maintain agency recognition and staff accreditation found on our website.

Please contact Silvana Arista at sarista@cliniclegal.org if you are interested in learning more about the training and technical assistance offered by CLINIC or if you would like to receive emails about our training opportunities.