Summer 2012 Newsletter - Page 4

KCSDV Receives Recognition from the Board of Immigration Appeals

The Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence is pleased to announce that on June 1, 2012, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), a division of the U.S. Department of Justice, designated KCSDV as an agency with BIA recognition. Additionally, Special Immigrant Legal Advocate Jessica Vanderweide, a member of the Legal Assistance to Victims (LAV) Project, was granted BIA partial accreditation. The accreditation of Ms. Vanderweide authorizes her to prepare and file petitions for immigrant survivors, including VAWA self-petitions, battered spouse waivers, U visas, and T visas.

Federal regulations (see 8 C.F.R. § 292.2) allow some non-profit or charitable organizations to designate a staff member to practice immigration law. BIA recognition and accreditation is the Department of Justice’s certification of nonprofit agencies and staff that allows non-attorney staff to practice limited aspects of immigration law before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the immigration courts. Partially accredited representatives like Ms. Vanderweide are able to work, under the supervision of licensed staff attorneys, on immigration petitions before USCIS, a division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

This process was created as a way to increase affordable representation for immigrants who may not have the resources to hire a private attorney. In order to apply for, and be granted agency recognition by the BIA, the agency must demonstrate its institutional knowledge about immigration law, procedures and practice. An agency may apply for recognition and apply for a staff member concurrently to become an accredited BIA representative.

KCSDV recognizes the strong need for low-cost, high quality services for all survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking in Kansas, and addresses it through its LAV, Protection Order, and Immigration Projects. BIA agency recognition for KCSDV and partial accreditation for Ms. Vanderweide allows KCSDV to expand its capacity, and KCSDV member programs’ capacity, to serve immigrant survivors in need of legal advocacy and services.

To learn more about KCSDV’s Legal Assistance to Victims project, contact your local domestic violence and/or sexual assault service provider (see map) or call KCSDV at 785-232-9784.

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