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Chapter 12 – Representation

12.1 – Representation

Competent and professional pro bono representation can benefit immigration proceedings.  As a general rule, a “pro bono representative” is an attorney or other representative specified in 8 C.F.R. § 1292.1 who provides legal representation without any present or future expectation of remuneration from the respondent (other than filing fees and nominal costs).  Uncompensated initial consultations or initial court appearances, with the ultimate intention or goal of compensation by the respondent, are contrary to the spirit of pro bono representation.  While an attorney or representative may be regularly compensated by an employing firm or organization, representation should be provided solely and honestly for the public good.  See American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 6.1-6.2.  Further, using the cover of potential pro bono representation as a means of soliciting clients when a significant motive for the solicitation is pecuniary gain is both contrary to the purpose of pro bono representation and a potential violation of EOIR’s rules of professional conduct.  See 8 C.F.R. § 1003.102(d).

EOIR’s Legal Access Programs (LAP) work to improve the efficiency of immigration court hearings by increasing access to information and raising the level of representation for individuals appearing before the immigration courts and Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).  LAP programs and initiatives related to representation include:

  • Recognition & Accreditation (R&A) Program
  • List of Pro Bono Legal Service Providers
  • Model Hearing Program
  • BIA Pro Bono Project
  • National Qualified Representative Program (NQRP) and other congressionally mandated “pilot innovation programs”

Further information about these LAP programs and initiatives are detailed throughout this Chapter.  External training programs under the Office of Policy, Legal Education and Research Services, provide information to parties in proceedings and are not representation programs.