VIDA Services: What We Do
VIDA staff and volunteer attorneys will work to provide a variety of services to suit the needs of the communities they serve, including removal defense and appeals, affirmative applications with USCIS, and humanitarian relief, including T and U visas, TPS, asylum, SIJS, and VAWA. Volunteer attorneys who accept pro bono referrals from VIDA will be responsible for those cases. Individuals who are referred for pro bono representation by a volunteer attorney will not be represented by VIDA.
Currently, VIDA is only representing or referring individuals in East Tennessee.
Removal Defense and Appeals
Vulnerable immigrant populations are often unfamiliar with immigration laws and procedures, which can result in adverse consequences in immigration court. VIDA projects will focus on ensuring that individuals' rights are protected in removal proceedings in order to help ensure that tribunals can efficiently manage their caseloads and also that individuals are able to pursue any relief available to them, including appeals. Immigration appeals and litigation can be time consuming and complex. Due to staffing concerns, VIDA projects may not be able to accommodate all appellate and litigation cases, and may need to refer these cases to qualified volunteer attorneys who share VIDA's commitment to helping underserved immigrant populations.
Affirmative Applications and Humanitarian Relief
Immigrants in underserved communities frequently wish to normalize their legal status but they are unaware of their options. Some may be eligible to pursue DACA or family-based applications filed on their behalf by relatives who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. Others may be eligible for humanitarian forms of relief, such as asylum, SIJS, TPS, VAWA, T or U visas. Because these applications are submitted to designated USCIS offices around the country, in order to conserve resources, VIDA projects may rely on volunteer attorneys to prepare applications remotely.
General Eligibility Criteria
VIDA will primarily provide immigration services through regional projects, beginning with East Tennessee. As each project is implemented, and subject to applicable grant requirements, VIDA will tailor its services to the needs of the communities it serves. Income criteria will be required in order to ensure that VIDA can adequately represent the most vulnerable immigrants rather than persons who are able to afford private representation. While the VIDA model relies heavily on volunteer attorneys from the private bar, VIDA will not act as a fee referral service or endorse any attorney or firm.
Children who came to the United States alone are one of the most vulnerable immigrant populations. When children are reunited with family in underserved areas of the country, they often lose the ability to pursue available immigration relief. Children's reliance on adults often results in their failure to appear in court or other appointments, which can have disastrous consequences. Assistance to unaccompanied children will be a primary focus of VIDA projects.