Refugee & Immigrant Program
Refugee and Asylum Project

The right to seek asylum from persecution is fundamental to the protection of human rights throughout the world. The right is specifically recognized in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states "Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution."

The Refugee and Asylum Project recruits and trains volunteer attorneys, paralegals, and law students to represent individuals who have fled religious, ethnic, political, or gender-based persecution in their countries of origin.  Using a large pool of volunteers, the Project provides pro bono representation to hundreds of individuals each year. Unless our clients are granted asylum, they face return to countries where they fear detention, torture, or death. 


Friday, May 31, 2002 from 7:45 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. ~ 

17th Annual Asylum Conference  
University of Minnesota Law School

Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights’ Seventeenth Annual Asylum training seminar- recognized as one of the finest in the country- brings together representatives from the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Executive Office of Immigration Review, and the immigration bar to cover basic and advanced asylum law and procedure, as well as highlight recent changes in asylum law and regulations. This year,  Dan Kesselbrenner from the National Immigration Project at the National Lawyers Guild and Nadine Wettstein, Director of the Legal Action Center at the American Immigration Law foundation will be speakers. The conference will address cutting-edge issues in asylum law, with a focus on advanced litigation topics. Track 1 will cover the basics of applying for asylum, including tips on completing an asylum application and preparing the client for an asylum interview. Track 2 will feature updates on appellate practice and trends in litigation for experienced volunteer attorneys and immigration practitioners.


In light of the past year’s events, one of the various afternoon breakout sessions will be devoted to post September 11 criminal and immigration matters. Conference participants will also have the opportunity to observe a mock asylum hearing before an immigration judge.

The Asylum Conference provides a comprehensive training in handling asylum claims for volunteers, students and immigration practitioners. This seminar serves as a recruiting and training tool for those interested in handling asylum cases.


Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights’ Refugee and Asylum Project provides legal representation to more than 900 indigent individuals and families annually with the help of  over 350 volunteers. The Project’s clients have fled persecution and are in danger of detention, torture and death if forced to return home. Over  90% of the project’s clients have been granted asylum. A pro bono attorney is often the difference between life and death for our clients.

Becoming a Refugee and Asylum Project Client:


Minnesota Advocates provides free legal assistance to indigent asylum-seekers who live in Minnesota.  You must be a resident of the state of Minnesota and meet our income guidelines to become a client.  Minnesota Advocates works with asylum applicants only and is unable to provide free legal help to people needing other kinds of immigration help.


If you are a resident of Minnesota, are low-income, and are seeking asylum, please call our Client Intake Line at 612-341-9845.  We do not accept walk-in applications – you must call the Client Intake Line.  You will be asked some preliminary questions and, if you meet our intake guidelines, we will send you a pre-screening questionnaire.  You must return that questionnaire to us before you will be scheduled for an intake interview.  After we meet with you our legal staff will review your case and notify you whether we are able to locate a volunteer attorney to represent you.  Unfortunately, due to limited resources, we are unable to represent everyone who seeks our help. 


If you are seeking help with other immigration questions or do not live in Minnesota, you may obtain a list of Free Legal Service Providers at www.usdoj.eoir.  Click on the link to the Pro Bono Program.  Minnesota Advocates cannot provide legal advice by email.


For general information about immigration, including information on seeking asylum in the United States, contact the U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Service at  Information about the asylum process in the United States and elsewhere in the world is also available at and at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ website,


To become a Refugee & Asylum Project Volunteer click here.


Additional Information:

R & I Program Volunteer Opportunities           R & I Program Publications

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