Keep reading to search for a lawyer and other services in the United States! And visit ASAP’s resources page to find legal updates, videos, frequently asked questions, and other information for asylum seekers.
How can I find an immigration lawyer?
- Immigration nonprofits: Visit the Immigration Advocates Network webpage to search for important information about immigrant rights nonprofits in the United States that offer free or low-cost legal help. You can use your zip code to find local organizations, or select your state. A zip code is the 5-digit number at the end of your U.S. mailing address.
- Pro se help desks: Look over this list of organizations that provide limited scope legal assistance to asylum seekers without lawyers in immigration court. Please reach out to these organizations directly for details on their services.
- Private immigration lawyers: Look over this list of private immigration lawyers in different cities. The Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) does not know these lawyers personally, but they were recommended by other local nonprofits. These offices do charge money, but you can always ask if an office can offer payment plans. Please reach out to these firms or attorneys directly for details on their services. This list is organized alphabetically by state and city. Suggest changes here.
- For adults in immigration detention: The organization Freedom for Immigrants has a hotline for detained immigrants and their loved ones. The phone number is 209-757-3733, or 9233 for people calling from a detention center. You can also check out this list of organizations that provide legal assistance in immigration detention centers in various states.
- For unaccompanied minors and their sponsors: You can call or send a message to the government’s hotline at 800-203-7001 to receive help and orientation. Read more about the hotline here. You can also contact the organization KIND. Contact information for KIND’s offices in different cities is available here.
How can I find other services?
Here are some links to help you find other local services. If you call an office and they cannot help, ask them if they have recommendations in your area!
- 211 Help Line: In many areas of the United States, you can call the phone number 211 to get help with things like housing, food, transportation, and health care. You can read more here.
- General legal and social services: Visit Informed Immigrant and enter your zip code to find lawyers, social workers, and community organizations that serve immigrants. A zip code is the 5-digit number at the end of your U.S. mailing address. Or visit HelloUSA and enter your city to find a variety of services including job advice, lawyers, and English classes. You can also view a map of services and support for people who recently left immigration detention from the organization Freedom for Immigrants (but you can only see it on a large screen, not on a cell phone).
- Health Care: Visit this Free Clinic Directory and enter your zip code, or your city and state, to find free medical clinics in your area. This post from United We Dream also has links to free and low-cost medical clinics in different states.
- Mental Health: Visit the websites of Give an Hour or Latinx Therapists Action Network and enter your location to find lists of therapists who provide free or low-cost services to asylum seekers. If you were separated from your child after entering the United States, you can also call Seneca Family Services at 844-529-3327 to receive free mental health services for yourself or your children.
- Taxes: Visit the VITA website and enter your zip code to find free help with taxes near you. You can also call VITA at: 1-800-906-9887. If you prefer to get help online, use this link. For more information about paying taxes as an asylum seeker, read this post.
- Unemployment benefits: In general, immigrants with work authorization can qualify for unemployment benefits, but the rules and requirements of every state vary. To search for information specific to your state, visit this State-by-State Unemployment Benefits Finder, from CareerOneStop. This post also has a list of local organizations that may be able to help navigate the unemployment process.
- Domestic violence: You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 or chat with someone on the their website to get support and talk about your options. Their services are free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Housing, family law, and employment law: Visit LawHelp and enter your state to find free legal services for housing issues, problems at work, and more. Some of the offices listed through this website do not provide services to undocumented immigrants, so you will have to call to ask if you are eligible.
- Government benefits: In general, if you have asylum or are in the process of applying for asylum and qualify for government benefits, you can continue to use those benefits. This post has information on the “public charge” rule. Find a local organization to help you understand whether you qualify for government benefits in your state.
- Resources for students: This website compiles a variety of resources for undocumented students, here you can read about financial assistance for students, and here, you can find information about scholarships & grants, special programs, resources about your rights, and other information for immigrant students.
What should I know when I search for a lawyer?
These are some important things you should know when searching for a lawyer:
- A notary is NOT a lawyer in the United States.
- Before you hire a lawyer, ask how much experience they have with asylum cases in the immigration court.
- There are lawyers who work pro bono (without cost) and private lawyers. All lawyers, paid or unpaid, have the same professional responsibilities.
- The lawyer should offer a contract in your language that includes the clear price and a description of the legal services that they will provide.
Also, watch these informative videos from the organization Ayuda about how to have a legal consultation, how to hire a lawyer and how to avoid notary fraud. The videos are currently only in Spanish, but you may try setting auto-generated subtitles through Ayuda’s YouTube videos.
What can I do if I call an office and no one answers?
If no one answers when you call a lawyer’s office, you can leave a voicemail with your name and phone number. And you can keep trying!
What should I do if the lawyer says they cannot help me?
If the organization or the lawyer say that they cannot help you, you can ask them if they have recommendations of other trustworthy lawyers in your area. Some offices only take certain types of cases—that is why it is important to continue your search for a lawyer and call various offices.
What are my rights and responsibilities when I have a lawyer?
Your lawyer is working for you and has certain professional responsibilities towards you and your case. Below, we listed some important points:
- Different types of lawyers: There are lawyers who work for nonprofits and private lawyers. But all lawyers, paid or unpaid, have the same professional responsibilities. Before hiring a lawyer, ask them how much experience they have with asylum cases in the immigration court. NOTE: A notary is NOT a lawyer in the United States.
- Contract: It is important to have a contract of legal services prepared by your lawyer. You should receive a copy of the contract in your language. The contract should include the clear price and a description of the legal services that the lawyer will provide in your case.
- Communication: It is important that you maintain communication with your lawyer and that you always notify your lawyer of changes in your case. Make sure that your lawyer has your current address and phone number. You should receive regular communication from your lawyer and should feel comfortable calling and asking for updates on your case.
- Documents: You should save all original documents of your case and your lawyer must save copies as well. You can ask your lawyer for copies of everything the lawyer has prepared and submitted to the government on your behalf.
- Confidentiality: All communication with your lawyer is confidential. This means that the lawyer cannot share that communication with anyone else without your permission. Therefore, it is important that you feel comfortable sharing everything that happened to you. It is also important that all the information that you share with your lawyer related to your case is correct.
- Firing your lawyer: Finally, if you are not satisfied with the work that your lawyer is doing on your case, you can always fire them. Also, if you think your lawyer has violated the professional rules, you have the right to present a complaint.