July 27, 2004
Representation of Aliens in Immigration Proceedings
Attorneys, Recognized Organizations, and Accredited Representatives;
Qualified Representatives, Free Legal Services Providers
Immigration law provides that aliens in immigration proceedings have the privilege of being represented, at no expense to the Government, by counsel selected by the alien and authorized to practice (Section 292 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. 1362). Federal regulations (8 CFR, Part 292) specify who may represent an alien in immigration proceedings and the criteria they must meet.
I. Attorneys, Recognized Organizations, and Accredited Representatives
Aliens may hire a licensed attorney who may charge or accept a fee for representing them in immigration proceedings.
Aliens may obtain representation from a non‑profit, religious, charitable, social service, or similar organization that is established in the United States and is recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) in the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). To be recognized by the BIA, the organization must have adequate knowledge and experience to provide its services and may charge or accept only nominal fees for those services.
To apply for recognition, an organization completes a Form EOIR‑31 (available on EOIR’s Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/eoir) and sends a copy of the form to two officials within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) field office in the applicant’s geographical area:
The completed form, along with proof that a copy has been sent to the two local DHS officials, is mailed directly to EOIR’s Recognition and Accreditation Program Coordinator:
Both local DHS officials -- the District Director for CIS and the Special Agent in Charge for ICE ‑‑ must submit a recommendation and reasons for approval or disapproval, along with proof that a copy of the recommendation was also sent to the organization applying for recognition, to the address above within 30 days. EOIR’s Recognition and Accreditation Program Coordinator will forward the complete application package to the BIA for review.
At each step in the process, the organization is given an opportunity to respond to any question about its qualifications. The BIA will consider the DHS recommendations and the organization’s responses, if any, to determine whether to grant recognition, deny the application, or seek more information from either the organization or DHS.
An organization’s recognition does not expire, but the BIA may withdraw recognition at any time if the organization fails to maintain the qualifications required by regulation (8 CFR 292.2). As in the application process, the organization has an opportunity to respond to any matter not in its favor.
Aliens may be represented by an accredited representative who is affiliated with a recognized organization (an organization that has been recognized by the BIA as specified above). Accredited representatives may charge or accept a nominal fee set by the organization through which they gained their accreditation.
The accredited representative must be of good moral character and accredited by the BIA through an application submitted by their recognized organization. Application procedures for accreditation of representatives are similar to the procedures for recognition of organizations (8 CFR 292.2). The application must be a written statement or résumé that fully states the nature and extent of the proposed representatives experience and knowledge of immigration and naturalization law and procedure, and explains the type of work the representative will be doing. It should also specify whether full or partial accreditation is requested. Full accreditation allows the representative to represent the alien before DHS, the Immigration Courts, and the BIA. Partial accreditation allows the representative to represent the alien only before DHS.
The BIA’s accreditation of a representative expires every 3 years, but can be renewed through an application submitted by the representative’s recognized organization. If an application for renewal is filed at least 60 days before the end of the third year, accreditation will remain valid pending the BIA’s consideration of the application.
Accreditation also ends when the BIA’s recognition of the affiliated organization ceases, or when the representative’s employment or the connection with the organization ends. Accreditation does not transfer to another organization. It is the responsibility of the recognized organization to notify the Recognition and Accreditation Program Coordinator of any changes regarding the representative’s affiliation with the organization.
The Recognition and Accreditation Program Coordinator maintains alphabetical rosters (published quarterly) of all recognized organizations and their accredited representatives. These rosters are available on EOIR’s Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/eoir/statspub/recognitionaccreditationroster.pdf (recognized organizations) and at http://www.usdoj.gov/eoir/statspubs/accreditedreproster.pdf (accredited representatives).
II. Qualified Representatives
Aliens may choose to be represented by a qualified representative who will work without compensation and who is familiar with the provisions of immigration law and with the rules of practice in court. Qualified representatives may be any of the following persons who meet the conditions specified in the regulations (8 CFR 292.1):
III. Free Legal Services Providers
EOIR’s Office of the Chief Immigration Judge maintains a current list of free legal services providers who meet the qualifications specified in the regulations (8 CFR 3.62). They include:
The list of free legal services providers is provided to aliens in immigration proceedings; a nationwide (by State) listing is available on the EOIR Web site at http://www.usdoj/gov/eoir/probono/states.htm.
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