Legal Services

Human Rights Initiative is committed to providing high-quality legal services free of charge to those seeking asylum, relief under the Violence Against Women Act, Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, immigrant victims of violent crime and immigrant child victims of abuse, neglect, and abandonment.

Our volunteer attorneys practice every type of law. Some are solo practitioners, while others are partners at prestigious firms; all share a passion for justice. Working closely with HRI staff, a volunteer attorney assists the client in preparing his/her case and representing the client before federal officials, trial courts and appellate bodies.

Applying for Asylum
Under most circumstances, a client must apply for asylum within one year of entrance into the United States. He or she must be unable or unwilling to return to his/her country of origin due to a legitimate fear of future persecution. A person who has fled his or her home and come to the United States is eligible for asylum if he or she can prove a well-founded fear of persecution based on one or more of the following grounds:

  • Religion
  • Race
  • Nationality
  • Political opinion
  • Membership in a particular social group

Applying for Relief as a Victim of Domestic Violence
An immigrant who has been the victim of physical and/or psychological abuse by a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident spouse may be eligible to file a petition based on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The client must prove she is/has:

  • Married to an abusive U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident
  • A person of good moral character
  • In good faith marriage
  • Lived with his/her spouse

If you are a victim of domestic violence and need immediate assistance, contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233).

Applying for Relief as an Immigrant Child
An immigrant child who has been the victim of:

  • Neglect, abuse or abandonment may be eligible to receive Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)
  • A violent crime may be eligible to apply for a U visa. The U visa’s purpose is to strengthen law enforcement agencies’ ability to detect, investigate, and prosecute violent crimes
  • Physical and/or psychological abuse by a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident parent may be eligible to file a petition based on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

Applying for Relief as a Victim of Violent Crime in the United States
An immigrant who has been the victim of a violent crime in the United States may be eligible to file a petition for a U Visa.  The client must prove that he or she:

  • Has suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as the direct or indirect victim of a crime
  • Possesses information concerning that criminal activity
  • Has been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to help in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity
  • Has a certification from a law enforcement authority certifying his or her aid in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity
  • The criminal activity was a violent crime that occurred in the United States and violated U.S. law