UH Law Center seminar offers practical advice to attorneys considering immigration practice 

Josephine Sorgwe, left, and Rosemary Vega, supervising attorneys in the UHLC Immigration Clinic, and Geoffrey A. Hoffman, clinic director, field questions from the audience.

Feb. 27, 2018 — Practicing attorneys interested in the field of immigration law were introduced to the basics of this challenging and complex area of law Friday by faculty and staff of the University of Houston Law Center Immigration Clinic.

Geoffrey A. Hoffman, director of the clinic, as well as clinical supervising attorneys Rosemary Vega and Josephine Sorgwe conducted the CLE seminar titled, "Making Sense of Immigration Law."

Hoffman began with a discussion of key points for immigration consultations, explained the basics of an asylum claim, and key issues at the intersection of Immigration and Criminal law, known as "Crimmigration." He ended his talk with an update on the latest litigation surrounding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

Vega discussed family based immigration, covering available visas, answering questions about adjustment of status and consular processing. Sorgwe detailed various forms of relief that may be available for crime and trafficking victims, including:

  • U Visa, meant for victims of crime and their families who suffered "substantial" physical or mental abuse, possess information about the crime, and are prepared to help law enforcement officers with their investigation.
  • T Visa, meant for victims of "severe human trafficking." This not only includes sex trafficking, but also those brought into the U.S. to work who are then exploited by employers.
  • VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) relief, for victims of domestic violence who can "self-petition" for permanent residence status without involvement of his or her spouse.
  • SIJ (Special Immigrant Juvenile Status) for abused, abandoned or neglected youths.

Applicants for each of these visas must meet specific criteria, and each visa provides various forms of relief, including work permits, permanent residency, and deferred status. Some provide relief for immediate family members while others set specific time periods for residency or applying for more permanent status.

"I am very pleased that we are able to offer CLEs at the UH Law Center that offer practical advice on topics of current importance and direct relevance to our community," Hoffman said. "The attorneys and students who attended will now be able to flag crucial issues if they decide to practice or volunteer in this field."

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