DOJ Immigration Legal Assistance

Marketa Legal Assistance“This program will help many families to save money and receive trustworthy help with their petitions. It will help keep many families together. People often wait to file petitions because they cannot afford the expensive legal and application fees and the families end up being separated. Through this program, the help is coming from HAP, an organization that is already known and trusted for serving the community. When a family gains legal status, it brings great happiness, because they know they can stay together.” HAP leader and past board member Joel Flores. 

The unauthorized practice of law by people who purport to provide legal assistance but who jeopardize the future of many families is an ongoing problem in the area. Limited financial resources often prevent immigrant families from applying for the immigration benefits for which they may qualify. Immigration law provides that an alien in immigration proceedings has the privilege to be represented, at no expense to the government, by counsel selected by the alien and authorized to practice law (Section 292 of the Immigration & Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1362). Federal regulations (8 C.F.R. part 1292) specify who may represent an alien in immigration proceedings and the requirements they must meet. These regulations permit recognized organizations and their accredited representatives to represent aliens in immigration proceedings. Please go to for more information on accreditation and recognition. HAP sought this recognition and accreditation from the Office of Legal Access Programs in the Department of Justice to enable immigrants who cannot afford legal fees to receive qualified representation with immigration application. List of all the DOJ accredited representatives and organizations including HAP can be found here.


This report, intended to help policymakers and advocates at the state and local levels who wish to create or further strengthen laws to combat the unauthorized practice of immigration law, was produced through a partnership between American University Washington College of Law and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. Download report here.

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