Saturday, August 6, 2022

Engaging Law School Students in Public Service for Citizenship Preparation

Under Executive Order 14012, Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans, and guided by the principles of the Interagency Strategy for Promoting Naturalization, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has been leading efforts since February 2021 to support and partner with educational institutions, businesses, and the nonprofit sector to address the needs of the more than 9.1 million lawful permanent residents (LPRs) who may be eligible to apply for naturalization based on their time in LPR status.

Heading into the 2022-2023 academic year, USCIS is seeking support from law schools for two initiatives to help applicants overcome obstacles to U.S. citizenship, which include limited pro bono or low-cost legal assistance providers in many communities.  Because integration is a whole of society effort, we are seeking your support to help aspiring eligible lawful permanent residents to apply successfully for naturalization.  Specifically, we would like law schools around the country to agree to one or both of the following initiatives:

  • Recognizing naturalization application support to satisfy law school public service requirements:  Many law schools require a set number of public service hours for graduation. Permitting law students to count naturalization application assistance as a part of their public service requirement would be an inspiring option for students and, given the straightforward nature of many naturalization applications, could also potentially draw in 1L students while meeting an important community need.
  • Creating naturalization-focused “days of service” around key calendar dates, e.g., Constitution Day (September 17) and MLK Day (January 16): Many law students want to gain practical legal experience but are often not able to participate in semester or year-long legal clinics. Providing opportunities for students to join time limited legal clinics (one-two day or week-long events, held multiple times a year) permits students to develop legal skills while offering much needed (and often overlooked) support for applicants. While it might seem logical to center this work in immigration law clinics, they are most often focused on complicated benefits and issues (e.g., relief from removal in immigration court and administration areas such as asylum, T and U visas, and VAWA self-petitions). Naturalization application focused “days of service” have high impact potential and minimal cost to law schools, firms, and associated attorneys and students.

A briefing and training will be held on August 10, 2pm EST. More information on how to register for the online session can be obtained from Kelly Ryan, Senior Advisor, Office of the Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 



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