ONA will expand the availability of immigration lawyers around the state offering free and expert assistance. The seeks qualified attorneys who can work full-time on immigration matters in conjunction with Opportunity Centers.
These 20 ONA Legal Counsels will provide legal technical assistance to Opportunity Centers and other immigrant service providers in each region of the state. Services will be available at legal clinics at community-based organizations within each region. Direct representation for clients in need of such assistance will be available, and they will conduct legal seminars and workshops. ONA Legal Counsels will travel within their regions to meet the needs of immigrants in their communities. Grantees will provide translation and interpretation services for non-English-speaking new American clients.
ONA Legal Counsels will provide direct representation to immigrants in select cases related to immigration related proceedings using a “universal representation” model that serves any immigrant in need of legal representation who meets geographic eligibility requirements. These requirements include resident immigrants in New York; families of mixed status with at least one family member with a tie to New York; and/or immigrant business owners in New York.
Each ONA Legal Counsel in upstate regions will provide legal representation to a caseload of 15-20 clients at a time. Downstate ONA Legal Counsels will handle between 12-20 cases, depending on the specific region. Immigration legal services provided by the ONA Legal Counsel should include the following cases and services, but not be limited to:
- Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
- U visas
- T visas
- Temporary Protected Status
- Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
- Violence Against Women Act
- Removal proceedings, for those currently detained or not, including those with a prior order of removal
- Work permits
- Bond hearings
- Board of Immigration Appeals
- Federal litigation
- Advanced parole
- Family reunification
- Family-based immigration
- Complex naturalization
- Family guardianship
All services provided will be offered at no charge to clients.
As indicated in the Opportunity Center RFA, ONA Legal Counsels will conduct annual reviews of the naturalization application review process at each Center. They will also provide on-site immigration law consultations to new Americans with legal questions and hold clinics throughout each region where they process immigration-related applications and provide additional consultations.
Each ONA Legal Counsel must have three or more years of experience as an attorney, including at least two years of immigration law experience or work under the supervision of a senior attorney with three or more years of immigration law experience.
Between the two RFAs, ONA ensures Opportunity Centers are nearby and readily accessible free legal assistance is available statewide to those that need it:
- Capital Region – Opportunity Center in Albany County; Two ONA Legal Counsels
- North Country – Opportunity Center in Clinton County; Two ONA Legal Counsels
- Mohawk Valley – Opportunity Center in Oneida County; Two ONA Legal Counsels
- Central New York – Opportunity Center in Onondaga County; Two ONA Legal Counsels
- Southern Tier – Two Opportunity Centers in Broome County and Tompkins OR Tioga Counties; Two ONA Legal Counsels
- Finger Lakes – Opportunity Center in Monroe County; Two ONA Legal Counsels
- Western New York – Opportunity Center in Erie County; Two ONA Legal Counsels
- Hudson Valley – Two Opportunity Centers in Westchester County, One Opportunity Center in Dutchess County; Two Opportunity Centers in Orange and Rockland Counties; Two ONA Legal Counsels
- Long Island – Two Opportunity Centers (one in Nassau; one in Suffolk); Two ONA Legal Counsels (one in Nassau; one in Suffolk)
- New York City – Two Opportunity Centers in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan each; Three Opportunity Centers in Queens; One Opportunity Center in Staten Island; Two ONA Legal Counsels
Cell-Ed for ESOL
Opportunity Centers has partnered with Cell-Ed, a phone-based English learning system for individuals who have difficulty reaching an actual classroom, to provide English for Speakers of Other Languages classes.
Cell-Ed has the capability of reaching and educating more new Americans than traditional classroom settings and has proven to be a successful tool for immigrants seeking to learn English.
The partnership provides unlimited access to Cell-Ed’s complete course catalog of English Language Learning, plus literacy, numeracy, civics, job readiness, digital literacy and more. Since the partnership began, more than 600 new Americans have graduated the program with at least 20 hours of English language coursework. Another 1,500 new Americans being serviced by ONA are currently enrolled in Cell-Ed.
The enhancements to ONA are the latest in Governor Cuomo’s commitment to helping and welcoming new Americans to New York State. ONA expects to issue more RFAs in the future to further enhance services and help more immigrants across New York State seeking the American Dream
Any immigrant that needs free legal assistance is urged to call the New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636. All call information is confidential. Assistance is available in 200+ languages.