Options for legal representation

New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP)

What is NYIFUP?

A program funded by New York City to provide high-quality, experienced lawyers for immigrant New Yorkers detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Who can get a free lawyer through NYIFUP?

NYIFUP has its own requirements to determine who qualifies for their free services. These requirements may change, and sometimes they do change. Keep this in mind when you are determining whether someone may qualify for an attorney through NYIFUP. NYIFUP will accept cases for free representation IF the person is detained AND:

  • Their deportation case is at the Varick Street Immigration Court, or if they are a New York City resident with a deportation case in certain New Jersey immigration courts
  • It is their first hearing in immigration court for this case
  • Their household income before being detained was below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

If someone had an attorney in their current case but does not want to continue with that attorney (or cannot afford to), NYIFUP will probably not be able to take the case.

NOTE: NYIFUP was on a break between June and August of 2017. If someone had their first court date at Varick Street during that time, NYIFUP will probably not be able to take the case.

How can a detained person speak to a NYIFUP lawyer?

A person cannot speak to a NYIFUP lawyer until the morning of their first court hearing — generally about two months after the person was detained.

On the day of a person’s first immigration court date, before they appear in front of the judge for the first time, a NYIFUP lawyer will interview the person and determine if they qualify for the program. The first court date will be at 1 pm and the person will be brought to Varick Street early in the morning and have an opportunity to speak with a NYIFUP attorney for a consultation as of 8:30 or 9 am.

If the person qualifies, the NYIFUP lawyer will start representing them as of that first hearing.

What if someone does not qualify & does not hire an attorney?

The Immigration Judge will give the person more time to find a lawyer, if someone does not qualify for NYFIUP and has not yet hired an attorney, they should make sure to ask the Immigration Judge for another court date to give them a chance to find a lawyer. They will continue to be detained until their next court date.

Documents to start collecting

In New York City, people who are detained by ICE currently wait approximately two months before they see a judge for the first time. During that time, you can support your detained loved one by starting to collect the documents that they may need for their deportation case. Keep these documents safe and give them directly to your loved one and/or their attorney. Do NOT give these documents directly to ICE. For an idea of what documents to collect on their behalf, see our Family-Preparedness Checklist.