Helping Immigrants Make Informed Legal Choices

Unlike others in legal proceedings, individuals who face deportation are not guaranteed the right to free legal counsel. Although the Legal Education and Advocacy Program (LEAP) cannot represent individuals in their court proceedings, they can provide non-detained, unrepresented individuals and families in removal proceedings through the Seattle Immigration Court with information and resources that can help them navigate the complex immigration system. The primary work done by the LEAP team includes providing information on your rights when in immigration court, available relief that might be available (including asylum, Withholding of Removal and Protection Under the Convention Against Torture), and procedural assistance (for example: change of address, change of court venue). Although there is no guarantee, LEAP may be able to find a lawyer who will handle your case for free, also called a pro bono attorney.

The Legal Education and Advocacy Program is funded by the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) through the Department of Justice. However, we are a non-profit organization and do not work for ICE, the Immigration Court, the police, or any other part of the government. All information shared with LEAP will remain confidential unless we have your permission to share it or unless explicitly stated otherwise.

Who We Are

Brenda Hunt, ICH Immigration Attorney and Legal Program Supervisor
Arleth Torres, ICH Legal Advocate (se habla español)
Alex Hatch, FGLOP Immigration Attorney
Nahyeli Mendivil, FGLOP Legal Advocate (se habla español)
Mae Niebuhr, Pro Bono Program Coordinator (se habla español)
Reyna Arballo, Program Assistant (se habla español)

What We Do

The following services are provided to both families and individuals:

Friend of the Court (FOTC) Services:
An attorney or DOJ Accredited Representative is allowed to appear in court with unrepresented families. An FOTC serves in an advisory role between the Immigration Judge and the participating individual or family. Please note that acting as a Friend of the Court is not legal representation, and it does not mean they are your attorney.

Pro Se/Self-Help Workshops:
A pro se respondent is someone who is representing themselves in court. These workshops are small classes, conducted over Zoom, meant to aid both individuals and families representing themselves in court, covering a wide variety of topics from general immigration system information to types of relief that may be available.

Completion of Asylum Applications:
An unrepresented and non-detained respondent in removal proceedings assigned to the Seattle Immigration Court can receive help completing and filing the I-589 asylum application.

 

 

 

 

Family Group Legal Orientation Program (FGLOP)

Who is served?
This program serves non-detained unrepresented Dedicated Docket families assigned to the Seattle Immigration Court. The Dedicated Docket, sometimes referred to as the family docket, is for recently arrived families, where judges will come to a decision within 300 days of the initial master calendar hearing (MCH), subject to changes based on families’ specific circumstances.

What services are offered?
The purpose of the FGLOP is to inform families of their rights, potential forms of immigration relief, and assistance navigating the immigration court system as a whole. The FGLOP includes the following services:

Multi-Family Group Orientations:
Group presentations for families on the Dedicated Docket that provide an overview of immigration law, including an explanation on the family’s rights and responsibilities in immigration court.

Single-Family Group Orientations:
Individual meetings between a single family and an FGLOP provider, where the family may ask more specific questions about their unique circumstances.

Learn more:
EOIR Family Group Legal Orientation Program Flyer (English)
EOIR Legal Orientation Program

For more information please email [email protected] or call 206-816-3230.

Immigration Court Helpdesk (ICH)

Who is served?
ICH services are available at Master Calendar Hearings to non-detained and unrepresented individuals and families on the Individual Docket facing removal proceedings in the Seattle Immigration Court.

What services are offered?
Individual Information Sessions:

One-on-one time with a legal representative on the LEAP team, giving the individual an opportunity to ask questions about immigration law and what to expect as their case moves forward in court.

Group Information Sessions:
In-person presentations at the immigration court that offer a broad view of the immigration process and basic information on defenses against removal.

Learn more:
EOIR Reference Materials
ACACIA Center for Justice

For more information please email [email protected] or call 206-816-3230.

Frequently Asked Questions

I want to file my asylum application, but I’m past my one year deadline. What can I do?
In general, you must apply for asylum within one year of your last arrival into the United States. The LEAP team may be able to assist you with your application even though your one year deadline has passed for asylum relief. When you apply for asylum, you are also applying for two other forms of relief – Withholding of Removal and Protection Under the Convention Against Torture. Although asylum may not be available to you, these other forms of relief may still be available.

If you have lawyers on the team, why can’t you represent me?
Our funding comes from the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). Because of this, we cannot represent people in court since it would be seen as a conflict of interest.

When can I apply for work authorization?
You can apply for work authorization 150 days after your asylum application has been filed with USCIS; this date is found on the stamped copy of your I-589 or on your receipt notice from USCIS if you filed your asylum application with USCIS. If approved, you may be able to begin work no sooner than 180 days after the asylum application has been filed.

Additional Resources

I-589 Asylum Application:
English
Spanish

Change of Address (through the Department of Homeland Security)This form can be filed online or in person.

Change of Address (Seattle Immigration Court)

EOIR Automated Case Information

Work authorization application and instructions

For more information please email [email protected] or call 206-816-3230.