Launch an Immigration Legal Ministry

So, you are exploring if or how you might launch an immigration legal ministry?

An individual does not necessarily have to be an attorney in order to practice immigration law. Churches and their volunteers or staff can receive credentialing from the federal Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and lawfully provide legal advice and assistance with immigration forms. This is known as the recognition and accreditation process

Immigration Activities

  • The legal ministry would be authorized to give legal advice on immigration-related matters
  • Assist individuals in determining their eligibility for benefits under U.S. immigration law
  • Assist in preparing applications for legalization or other immigration benefits
  • Represent clients before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • Provide informational sessions on general immigration legal issues
  • Refer those seeking legal assistance beyond the capacity of the clinic to appropriate assistance
  • Refer immigrants to other ministries and organizations for additional assistance beyond legal services
  • Many other relational, wrap around, and programmatic ministries that connect immigrants served through legal services with the local church (if they are not already connected)


Next Steps

  • Identify an attorney to supervise the site OR
  • Identify a non-attorney who will pursue Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) accreditation
  • Participate in comprehensive immigration law training – this is often a 40 hour Basic Immigration Law course
  • After classroom training, observation and hands-on experience are required. This can be completed by shadowing a World Relief office or other Immigration Coalition affiliated site


Immigration Coalition Support

  • Assistance with Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) applications
  • Program management guidance
  • Ongoing training and technical support
  • Access to centralized functions as they are developed by the coalition
  • Periodic monitoring and audits to ensure quality service delivery
  • The cost for technical support is currently $1,500 per year. This price will incrementally increase as support functions are added to the coalition

**For churches that are members of the coalition or whose network/denomination is a member of the coalition, your costs could be significantly reduced. Please inquire here to find out more specifics. For available 40 Hour Trainings in 2014, see a comprehensive list here For more details on what is involved in launching an immigration legal ministry, please download this Immigration Coalition document.