Viista — Villanova Interdisciplinary Immigration Studies Training for Advocates

Villanova University

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Villanova University

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Who should attend

VIISTA students...

want to understand immigration better; are looking for a way to help immigrants; are compelled to take action; want to make a meaningful impact; and are eager to become part of the solution.

VIISTA students come from many fields and backgrounds, including:

  • recent college graduates;
  • retirees;
  • people returning to the workforce;
  • paralegals;
  • Pastoral workers and others in religious congregations;
  • social workers;
  • health care workers;
  • educators;
  • policy advocates;
  • pro bono lawyers;
  • prospective law students; and
  • lifelong learners.

About the course

VIISTA — Villanova Interdisciplinary Immigration Studies Training for Advocates — is a new, 100% online interdisciplinary educational program that trains students to become immigrant advocates ready to serve migrants and refugees.

Unlike criminal proceedings in which defendants have constitutional rights to representation, in the United States, migrants are not entitled to court appointed lawyers. Six out of 10 migrants confront the immigration system without a lawyer, and many of these migrants are children. The consequences of this are substantial. The Vera Institute found that migrants are 12 times more likely to obtain available relief when they have an advocate. Lack of advocacy disrupts in life-altering ways. With each deportation order, families are separated, employers lose employees, and communities lose valued neighbors and friends. The migrant-serving community knows we need more advocates.

VIISTA is the first university-based online certificate program to train immigrant advocates. Designed by an interdisciplinary team of leading faculty, lawyers, and NGOs, VIISTA revolutionizes education about the law by educating legal advocates (akin to nurse practitioners in health care). Graduates will be eligible, under existing regulations, to apply to become Department of Justice “accredited representatives,” non-lawyers authorized to provide low-cost legal representation to migrant and refugee families when they work for DOJ "recognized organizations." Our curriculum is holistic – we teach about immigration from various perspectives and include all the topics needed to become effective immigrant advocates – such as interviewing, how to work with an interpreter, how to work with migrant children, factors that push people to migrate, providing trauma-informed care, trial advocacy – and, of course, immigration law. Everything is learned in the context of what you will do to help migrants and refugees, whether on the job or in volunteer positions.

PROGRAM OUTCOMES

  • Learn from renowned faculty at the forefront of immigration and advocacy
  • Develop practical skills in immigrant advocacy
  • Explore immigration law and practice
  • Gain insights into why people migrate
  • Transform the legal services experience for migrants and refugees

Why Your Help is Needed

Access to legal representation is the primary determinant in obtaining a just immigration outcome.

  • 60% or more of immigrant women and children could be eligible for international protection, such as asylum or another form of humanitarian relief, if they had legal representation
  • 87% of immigrant children with lawyers in NYC win their cases; children without lawyers win only 19% of the time
  • 2% percent of unrepresented immigrants in NYC were granted relief.
  • immigrants are 12 times more likely to gain eligible relief when they are represented
  • only “37 percent of all immigrants secured legal representation in their [immigration court] removal proceedings” and thousands of children go to immigration court alone

Having an advocate is even more important than the strength of the underlying legal claim. Migrants with representation are more likely to be released from detention, appear in court, win their removal cases, and seek and obtain relief from deportation.

The pro bono community is struggling to respond.

A report by the Committee on Immigration Reform Implementation (CIRI) estimates conservatively that at least one million of the unauthorized immigrants living in the United States are eligible for a legal form of relief and would have status in the United States if they had access to legal representation. CIRI found that only 1,200 full-time equivalent staff members provide legal representation to low-income immigrants through a collection of non-profit organizations, far below the demand for their services.

*In this cultural moment, increasing numbers of people like you are hungry to help. *

You want to help immigrants, make a meaningful impact, become part of the solution, do more than make donations. You want to understand, create just immigration policies, and make a difference in the lives of migrant families.

Education will help you make a meaningful impact.

VIISTA responds to your desire to learn about immigration so that you can help others. Its online platform means you can study from home and become empowered to take action to help marginalized families and youth in your local communities.

Authority to expand legal services capacity exist.

Accredited representatives (AR) who work for recognized organizations, such as immigrant-serving and faith-based organizations, are authorized under federal regulations to provide low-cost legal representation in immigration proceedings, just as a lawyer would. Partially accredited representatives represent immigrants with applications filed with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), including applications for citizenship, family-based visas, humanitarian visas (including for victims of crimes, human trafficking and domestic violence), and Temporary Protected Status.

Fully accredited representatives can represent clients, including asylum seekers, in immigration courts and in appeals before the Board of Immigration Appeals. ARs can sign legal documents, submit papers, accompany clients to interviews, and do everything a lawyer would do in court. Despite the growing need for legal representation, today, there are still less than 2,000 accredited representatives nationwide, only 300 of which are fully accredited and authorized to represent clients in immigration court, where the need is greatest. Become part of the solution.

*VIISTA bridges migrant needs with students like you who are eager to act. *

By providing online training specifically designed to teach the competencies needed to advocate effectively, VIISTA bridges the divide between immigrant communities that need advocates and passionate people like you.

MODULE 1

How to successfully work with immigrants. Earn a Module Certificate in Immigrant Accompaniment.

MODULE 2

Immigration law and practice. Train to become a partially accredited representative. Earn a Module Certificate in Immigrant Advocacy.

MODULE 3

Immigration law and practice. Train to become a fully accredited representative. Earn a Module Certificate in Immigration Trial Advocacy.

If all three modules have been completed, earn a Program Certificate.

Each module builds on the prior one, but serves a unique purpose by itself. People from all disciplines with different aspirations and experience in the immigration world can forge their own VIISTA path.

Comprised of three content modules, each Module is 14 weeks with two 7-week sessions. This program is 100% asynchronous online with occasional, optional live webinars that will be recorded if you cannot attend live. Students are highly encouraged to register for all three Modules, but may choose to finish their studies upon completion of the first, second or third Modules. The Module contents build upon each other and must be taken sequentially.

Students in this non-credit program earn a Certificate from the College of Professional Studies upon completion of each Module and a Program Certificate upon completion of all three Modules.

MODULE 1

Immigrant Accompaniment Module 1 focuses on how to successfully work with immigrants, and is the foundation for the program.

Upon completion of Module 1, you will be able to:

  • Contextualize the global migration phenomenon
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the structure of government, sources of law and the immigration ecosystem
  • Interview an immigrant
  • Appreciate and be sensitive to cultural difference
  • Draft professional documents
  • Practice ethical advocacy for a client
  • Engage in self- and communal- care

Select students may elect to complete their study at this point. These students likely will be employed in a field in which they interact regularly with immigrants – social workers, educational counselors, pastoral workers and other members of religious congregations, and health care workers. Their specific training needs would focus on how to work successfully with immigrants, and not on immigration law.

Others interested in adding to this foundational knowledge may decide to proceed to Module 2 and Module 3.

Most students will begin the program by enrolling in this first module, although others who have relevant experience may enter directly into Module 2 or 3 with approval from the College of Professional Studies during the enrollment process.

MODULE 2

Immigrant Advocacy Modules 2 and 3 focus on immigration law and practice.

They are designed to train people to become Department of Justice (DOJ) partially accredited representatives (Module 2), or fully accredited representatives (Module 3).

DOJ Recognition and Accreditation Program FAQ's

Upon completion of Module 2, you will be able to:

  • Conduct a thorough intake interview with a potential client, including drafting a thorough new client intake form to use to gather facts from clients during interviews;
  • Assess a client’s case for eligibility for various immigration benefits;
  • Analyze new areas of the law to determine the elements that need to be proven;
  • Plan an immigration case;
  • Conduct legal research;
  • Establish eligibility for an immigration benefit including gathering facts and evidence to support the elements of the immigration benefit;
  • Prepare an application and supporting evidence for submission to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS);
  • Maintain an office case file for a client (professional development);
  • Draft persuasive professional documents (applications, declarations, cover/argument letter);
  • Engage in self- and communal-care;
  • Compile an application to become a DOJ partially accredited representative; (professional development)
  • Practice ethical service and advocacy for a client.

MODULE 3

Immigrant Trial Advocacy

Upon completion of Module 3, you will be able to:

  • Conduct a removal hearing in immigration court;
  • Conduct a thorough intake interview with a potential client whose case is in removal proceedings, including drafting a thorough new client intake form to use to gather facts from clients during interviews;
  • Assess a client’s case for eligibility for various forms of relief from removal/deportation;
  • Analyze new areas of the law to determine the elements that need to be proven;
  • Plan an immigration case for proceedings before an immigration court;
  • Establish eligibility for relief from removal, including gathering facts and evidence to support the elements of the form of relief;
  • Conduct legal research on immigration law;
  • Prepare an application and supporting evidence for submission to an immigration court;
  • Prepare a client and witnesses to testify in immigration court;
  • Draft and present an opening statement, closing argument and direct examination;
  • Maintain an office case file for a client (professional development);
  • Draft persuasive professional documents (applications, declarations, cover/argument letter);
  • Engage in self- and communal-care;
  • Compile an application to become a DOJ fully accredited representative; (professional development)
  • Practice ethical service and advocacy for a client.

Experts

Michele Pistone

Professor Pistone is a Professor of Law and directs and teaches the Clinic for Asylum, Refugee and Emigrant Services (CARES). She founded the Law School’s in-house Clinical Program, which she built and directed for nine years. Professor Pistone has also taught at Georgetown University Law Center,...

Candace Centeno

Candace Centeno is a Professor of Law and the Director of the Duane Morris LLP Legal Writing Program; she serves as the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and teaches Legal Analysis and Writing I & II and an upper-level medical malpractice course. She is a graduate of Muhlenberg College (summ...

Lori Corso

Ms. Corso currently serves as the Head of Staff Development, training and supporting the professional development of all library staff and provides technology training and support for faculty, staff, and students. She also manages our law databases and the law school’s website and creates and adm...

Lynne Hartnett

Dr. Lynne Ann Hartnett is an Associate Professor of History at Villanova University, where she teaches courses on all facets of Russian history as well as on the social, political, and intellectual history of modern Europe. She earned her PhD in Russian History at Boston College. Dr. Hartnett’s r...

Edward Hastings

Education: B.A. 1973, Villanova University M.A. 1983, Washington Theological Union, Washington M.A. 1987, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh Ph.D. 1991 Duquesne University, Pittsburgh Teaching Philosophy: As a theology professor, my philosophy of teaching is influenced by the Augustinian tradition...

Karyn Hollis

2000-: Associate Professor, English Department, Villanova University Director, Writing and Rhetoric Program 2011-Currently: Director, Cultural Studies Program 1990-2000: Assistant Professor, English Department, Villanova University Director of the Writing Program and ...

Catherine Wilson

Education: B.A., Villanova University M.A., Georgetown University Ph. D., University of Pennsylvania Publications: Wilson, C.E. (2008). The politics of Latino faith: Religion, identity, and urban community. New York, NY: New York University Press. BOOK CHAPTERS: Wilson, C.E. (2016). Community ...

Viista — Villanova Interdisciplinary Immigration Studies Training for Advocates at Villanova University

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Disclaimer

Coursalytics is an independent platform to find, compare, and book executive courses. Coursalytics is not endorsed by, sponsored by, or otherwise affiliated with any business school or university.

Full disclaimer.

Read more about Non-profit

Courses on non-profit offer an excellent opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to create an effective plan for addressing key challenges that are faced by all non-profit organizations. The courses mainly focus on the financial and...

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