The Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic offers two courses: one-semester Immigration Law Clinic and the two-semester Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic. In both courses, students will work in two-person team to represent individuals seeking immigration benefits (e.g. asylum, work authorization, lawful status). Students work directly with clients to prepare applications for an immigration benefit and supporting documentation. This may include drafting a detailed statement from the client applicant and supporting statements from experts and other witnesses; researching U.S. substantive and procedural asylum and immigration law; and developing administrative advocacy strategies. Students may encounter sensitive subjects while working with clients, such as trauma due to domestic violence, sexual assault, or other crimes.
Students meet in seminar and weekly with their supervisor. Additionally, students meet regularly with clients to complete the application forms, gather supporting documentation, and complete written affidavits. Students also engage in intensive legal research to determine clients’ eligibility for immigration relief and each application’s filing requirements, and may counsel clients on their legal options.
Immigration Law Clinic (one semester)
Students in the one semester clinic will learn about U.S. immigration law and practice and assist Clinic clients in navigating the US immigration system. Additionally, students in the one semester clinic will research and prepare and present training materials on a focused immigration topic to staff of immigrant-serving community-based organizations.
Last semester, students in the Immigration Clinic represented clients seeking immigration benefits before USCIS and U.S. consulates abroad. These included representing victims of crimes and domestic violence to obtain legal status in the U.S. for themselves or their family members, and filing for naturalization.
Throughout the semester, students will apply the rules of professional conduct to their clients’ cases including rules on confidentiality, joint representation, and working along side clients with diminished capacity. In addition, some students will complete a legal memo in response to a technical assistance request submitted by an Asylum and Immigration Clinic’s Community Based Organization (CBO) partner.
Finally, students work together to present a half-day training on an immigration law topic to attorneys and accredited representatives on staff at our CBO partners.
“I gained the experience of working in a law firm environment. That was a very rewarding experience. Taking a clinic course is more hands-on and practical. DePaul’s Immigration Clinic provides an opportunity to serve low income clients while effectively learning the practice of immigration law.”
“The Clinic provides an opportunity to assist an individual while learning, which is something that most classes can’t offer. You and your partner may be assigned one or multiple clients throughout your semester. The classroom section itself takes on a unique experience offering discussion-based work from dealing with the client to parsing through key immigration topics. If you dedicate yourself to the class and to your client then you will achieve the greatest reward. I hope everyone gets the most out of this great chance!”
Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic (two-semester)
Students in the two semester Clinic will learn about US immigration law and practice, with a particular focus on US asylum law. Students have the opportunity to learn about and practice factual investigation and analysis, legal research, drafting and client interviewing and counseling. Additionally students have the opportunity to hear from experts in working with survivors of trauma.
Students assist Clinic clients in presenting their asylum claims before the Asylum Office and the Immigration Court and other immigration matters. In the spring semester students will research, prepare materials and present on a substantive immigration law topic to staff of immigrant serving community-based organizations. Students also are provided with the opportunity to observe Immigration Court hearings.
This past year, students in the Clinic had the opportunity to represent clients in Immigration Court (at status hearings) and before the Asylum Office (at an asylum hearing). Students regularly met with, interviewed and counseled clients. Students prepared and filed asylum applications, drafted affidavits, secured corroborating evidence, drafted trial memoranda, and consulted with experts. Further students engaged in trial preparation with clients and witnesses.
Some students assisted former Clinic clients in pursuing benefits after the asylum grant, including filing petitions for family members, and filing for lawful permanent resident status. Additionally, students conducted in-depth research regarding immigration consequences of criminal convictions.
“Clinic in law school is like the residency of medical school – it’s where you get the opportunity to practice the skills and laws professors lecture about in class every day. Taking a clinic, especially the Immigration and Asylum Legal Clinic, is one of, if not the smartest decisions a law student can take in law school. Every day you learn something new and by the end of the semester when you look back on all you’ve learned you’ll be amazed by how much you thoroughly learned. When I first started the clinic, I couldn’t tell you 2 things about asylum law but now I feel confident to take on a case from start to finish. You also learn people skills, interviewing skills, analytical skills, administrative skills, etc. I feel what I’ve learned in clinic has definitely put me ahead of other classmates that intend on pursuing immigration. I wish someone had told me about clinics earlier in law school rather than me coming across it in an email among many emails. If you know what you want to practice post law school and DePaul offers a clinic in that matter, you’d be silly to not take the clinic. I only have good things to say about clinics offered at DePaul.”
“Unlike in the traditional classroom, the Clinic provides students the opportunity to work directly with clients to build their asylum cases. You conduct interviews with the client to hear about his/her experiences in the home country. You write an affidavit illustrating those experiences and fears. You conduct research on what is happening in his/her home country. You collect documents to support the client’s story. You speak with experts to gain more insight on the conditions of the home country. In the end, not only do you create a product illustrating the client’s story, but you also form an invaluable relationship with the client. You are the person who listened to the client speak about his/her experiences and did something to convey that story.”