Can LSC Grantees Represent Undocumented Immigrants?

The Law  

As set by Federal statute, LSC grantees can represent only U.S. citizens, with limited exceptions.   

People with lawful status who can receive assistance include: 

  • Permanent Residents 

  • Persons married to, a parent of, or an unmarried child of a U.S citizen with a pending application for lawful permanent residence 

  • Temporary Agricultural and Forestry Workers with H2A and H2B visas 

People without lawful status in the U.S. cannot be represented by LSC grantees unless one of the statutory exceptions applies.1    

Exceptions for Victims of Crime and Abuse  

Federal statutes set the following categories of people as eligible for services from LSC grantees, even if they lack lawful status in the U.S.  

  1. Victims of Domestic Abuse, Battering, or Extreme Cruelty 

  1. Victims of Sexual Assault 

  1. Victims of Human Trafficking 

  1. Other crime victims that qualify for a U-Visa 

  • victims of specific types of crimes, including rape, torture, and kidnapping  

  • who are helpful to law enforcement, and 

  • who have suffered mental or physical abuse as a crime victim;

  • some minor children of these victims; and 

  • some cooperating witnesses 

For most victims of crime or abuse, LSC grantees can only provide legal assistance directly related to preventing or obtaining relief from the abusive or criminal activity.   

Other Exceptions 

Additional exceptions apply in cases of international child abductions and for certain Native American tribes and Pacific island nations.