DSP3210 Legal Issues in Immigration Services

Course Overview

Educational Level: Upper undergraduate, Bachelor
Credit Hours: 3 Credits
Instructor: Dr. Carol Olsen

Course Description:

Foundation in immigration procedure and law, including an overview of the immigration process, family visas, specialized visas, asylum, waivers, deportability, inadmissibility, naturalization, research, writing, citizenship, and ethics. Designed to meet the training requirements for individuals seeking accreditation by the US Board of Immigration Appeals to serve in BIA-recognized legal service centers.

How This Course Benefits Students:

According to The Immigration Alliance, there are more than 22 million foreign-born, non-citizens in the United States and only 12,000 private immigration attorneys and 2,800 non-profit immigration attorneys and accredited staff in the United States to help meet the demand. Because the poor are especially under-represented by legal counsel, the Board of Immigration Appeals permits trained and specially-approved representatives to practice law in BIA-accredited non-profit centers that represent low-income clients. This course is designed to teach a broad overview of the fundamentals of immigration law to meet the BIA’s training requirements for partial accreditation. Several well-established organizations provide a course in basic immigration law (known as 40-hour basic immigration), either during one-week courses or online. Even if every participant in the courses went on to practice immigration law, the need would not be met. Unfortunately, many participants do not follow up with their training for various reasons: difficulty of getting the hands-on experience, inability to find (or start) a legal services center in which to work, concern about legal liability, etc. Attorneys who are licensed to practice in any state may practice immigration law, which is a federal issue. Many attorneys have no training in immigration law, though, so they attend the 40-hour basic courses to prepare to practice in the immigration field. Individuals applying for BIA accreditation must show that they have had at least a foundational course that gives a broad overview of immigration law and that they have had sufficient experience under the supervision of an immigration professional. The Missional University course provides the entry-level training in immigration law. The Study Beyond course in immigration law, together with some additional experience, provides the experiential component for BIA recognition. Students who complete this course, the Study Beyond course, and any hours of experience required by the accredited center at which they serve, would have the minimal qualifications to apply for Partial Recognition by the BIA to practice immigration law. Additional training and experience would be recommended for most students.

Why This Course Is Important:

Non-lawyers who are recognized by the US Board of Immigration Appeals can practice immigration law on behalf of low-income clients. This foundational course and the Study Beyond course in immigration law give students the overview and initial experience needed for application to the BIA to practice at a BIA-accredited center. It should be noted that organizations that have been offering 40-hour immigration courses for many years still rely on the course materials and testing of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC), which is accepted by the BIA without question. This course proposal assumes that the faculty of Missional University (together with any visiting speakers) will be adequate to teach the material and adequately assess the competency of the students’ learning to the satisfaction of the Board of Immigration Appeals. Since the BIA does not accredit educational institutions, though, The Missional College will investigate the possibility of working through the ILRC until MU’s teaching reputation is established.