If you fought your asylum case in immigration court by yourself and you’re now headed for the BIA, consider this: an Immigration Judge is required to (1) tell you that free attorneys are available to help you, and (2) provide you with a list of those free attorneys. Did that happen in your case? If not, you should raise this issue in your appeal to the BIA.
A new decision from the BIA on August 27, 2013 confirmed that this requirement, which is found at 8 C.F.R. 1240.11(c), is a separate requirement an Immigration Judge must meet if an asylum applicant does not have an attorney.
In In re K-O-, the immigrant had applied for asylum and did not have an attorney in immigration court. After filing his BIA appeal, he hired an attorney to help him. Reviewing the transcript, the attorney noticed the judge had not given the immigrant a copy of the list of attorneys who provide free assistance with asylum cases. In a decision that seems to be the first of its kind, the BIA agreed, holding that the IJ is required to not only tell all immigrants without attorneys of the availability of pro bono counsel under 8 C.F.R. 1240.10(a) but must separately tell asylum seekers that there are free attorneys who are willing to take on asylum cases and to give the immigrant a copy of the list.