Asylum Seekers: How to Become a Client
"I would like to thank Human Rights First and my attorney for taking my case and working tirelessly to make sure it came to a good end.” –Asylee and Bhutanese human rights advocate Bahadur Subba
"He says I changed his life, but it was really the other way around.” — Pro bono attorney B. Ted Howes of McDermott Will & Emery LLP
Who We Help
We help people living in the greater Washington, D.C., New York City, and Houston metropolitan areas who do not already have legal representation, cannot afford an attorney, and need help with a claim for asylum or other protection-based form of immigration status. Our New York and Houston offices can also help people who are seeking asylum from within a nearby immigration detention center.
Types of Cases We Handle
ASYLUM: We help people who are afraid to return to their home countries because they have suffered harm and/or have a well-founded fear of future harm because of who they are. This may include harm that is based upon their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or some other characteristic about themselves that they cannot change, such as their sexuality.
To apply for asylum, a person MUST apply within ONE YEAR of entering the United States, unless they can show that they qualify for an exception to that rule.
Human Rights First also helps people to apply for withholding of removal and for protection under the U.N. Convention Against Torture (CAT).
Some people who are eligible for asylum may also be eligible for other forms of protection. For more information about asylum and the other types of cases that Human Rights First handles, go to our Law and Procedure Page.
If Human Rights First accepts your case, it will be assigned to pro bono attorneys who will represent you free of charge. These excellent attorneys work at a large law firm. Human Rights First will guide, train, and mentor your pro bono attorneys so that they will have our support throughout your case.
How to Request Our Help
New York City Office: If you are interested in our legal help in the New York City area, you should come to our offices at 75 Broad St, 31st Floor, New York, NY 10004 to fill out a request for assistance form. If you are in removal proceedings at the New York Immigration Court, you can also stop by the “pro bono room” on the days that we are screening potential clients there. After we review your questionnaire, we will call you to let you know if you qualify for an intake meeting with us. If you are in New York or New Jersey and have questions, please call (212) 845-5200.
Washington, D.C. Office: Please call our office on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 2pm and 5pm at 202-370-3313. A member of our staff will provide a screening and we will let you know if you qualify for an intake meeting with us. Walk-in requests for assistance are not permitted in the D.C. Office.
Houston, TX Office: Please call our office at (713) 955-1360. If you do not reach our staff, please leave a voicemail describing the circumstances of your case. You should expect a call back from us within 2 weeks of leaving the voicemail and we will let you know if you qualify for an intake meeting with us.
What to Bring To Your Intake Interview at Human Rights First
If you are invited to an intake interview at Human Rights First, please bring any and all documents that might be relevant to your immigration case including the following:
- Identity documents (i.e. your passport, birth certificate, student identification card, household registry, national identity card, or political party membership card.)
- Identity documents of family members who travelled to the United States with you
- Marriage certificate and birth certificates for children, if any
- Academic records (i.e. school records, certificates, and diplomas)
- Medical records from hospitalization or treatment due to mistreatment in home country
- Jail or court records
- Any draft asylum applications or affidavits that you may have created
- Any document that has been filed with any part of our government
- Any other documents that you think might be relevant
- Please note that we do not expect potential clients to have all of these documents. If you were not able to bring these documents with you when you fled your home country, that is fine and we can discuss documenting your claim with you.
Other Service Providers That May Be Able to Help
At this time, we are only able to help clients in the greater New York City (NY, NJ), Washington, D.C. (DC, VA, MD), and Houston, TX metropolitan areas. If you live outside of these areas, if you do not have the type of immigration case that Human Rights First covers, or if Human Rights First tells you we cannot assist you, you should check the following list of free legal services providers in your state: http://www.justice.gov/eoir/probono/states.htm