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Home / Asylum / Asylum Seekers: How to Become a Client

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, please call (212) 845-5200. After we review the information that you share about your case, we will contact you to schedule an intake interview with our staff or refer you to other legal service organizations that might be able to help.

Washington, D.C. Office: Please call our office at (202) 547-5692. You will be asked to leave a voice message into our asylum voice mail. A member of our staff will call you to provide a screening and we will let you know if you qualify for an intake meeting with us.

Los Angeles, CA Office: If you are interested in our legal services please contact our office at 213 455 7643. You may also contact us via e-mail at [email protected] where you may include your contact information along with a brief message describing the circumstances of your case. A member of our staff will contact you to provide further details on our screening process. 


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: