By Laura Burdick
The BIA recently released a new FAQ sheet on the recognition and accreditation program. This 27-page document addresses 91 questions and is divided into three sections on general information, recognition, and accreditation. This is an excellent new resource for programs seeking to apply for agency recognition and/or staff accreditation for the first time, add a recognized office location with accredited staff, or renew staff accreditation. In this FAQ sheet, the BIA provides clarification and additional information on several aspects of the application:
- On page 6, question R6 addresses the issue of how to demonstrate that an agency charges nominal fees. In addition to the fee schedule, the BIA suggests including information on the agency’s fee waiver policies (when and for which applications the agency will waive its fees); any reduction in agency fees for additional family members or limit on the total charge per family; and what is included in the agency fee (USCIS filing fee, representation at the interview, document translation, etc.). The BIA states that it is helpful to provide as much information as possible.
- In question R14 on page 9, the BIA states that any agreements with another organization or local immigration attorney for consultations and technical legal support should identify any fees charged for the assistance.
- On page 9, question R16, the BIA discusses law library resources and states that an organization should have immediate access to basic resources such as the INA, 8 CFR, and BIA precedent decisions. Note: BIA precedent decisions are available through the EOIR Virtual Law Library.
- In question R30 on page 12, the BIA recommends separating concurrently filed applications. When an agency files for agency recognition and staff accreditation at the same time, the two applications should be submitted as two separate packets. Any materials that are needed for both packets should be photocopied. Similarly, if more than one staff member is applying for accreditation, the BIA prefers a separate application packet for each person.
- The BIA discusses training requirements on page 18, question A7 and requests a resume of the trainer or mentor who helped the applicant prepare for accreditation. Since the trainer or mentor often provides a letter of recommendation, CLINIC recommends simply including information about his/her background and qualifications in the letter.
- On page 20, question A12 addresses trainings needed for accreditation. The BIA states that core training includes training on employment-based and diversity immigrant visas, as well as an overview of the immigration system in the United States. At a minimum, CLINIC recommends that applicants take its new self-directed e-learning course on the fundamentals of immigration law, since the course provides a broad overview. This course is available at http://cliniclegal.org/self-directed .
- In question A19 on page 21, the BIA discusses supporting documentation needed in the request to renew accreditation, and recommends including a copy of its last decision approving accreditation.
This new FAQ sheet has been added to CLINIC's BIA Toolkit  on our website. CLINIC is in the process of updating the BIA toolkit to reflect this and other new information.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact your Field Support Coordinator for any assistance needed in the BIA application process. The Field Support Coordinators are assigned by state as follows:
Laura Burdick : CO, NM, NC, SC, FL, GA, LA, MS, DC, DE, MD, PA, VI
Jack Holmgren : AK, AZ, CA, HI, ID, NV, OR, UT, WA, OH, IL
Michelle Sardone : ME, MA, NJ, NH, NY, RI, CT, VT, IN, MO, MI, WI, MN
Leya Speasmaker : AR, WY, KS, NE, SD, ND, OK, IA, KY, AL, TN, TX, WV, VA, PR