FREE Legal Aid

The Higher Education Legal Services (HELS), a program of Jewish Family Services San Diego, is partnered with San Diego Miramar College to offer FREE immigration legal consultations to students and staff!

The Miramar College Dreamers Support Office strongly encourages all undocumented and immigrant students to schedule a consultation with the Higher Education Legal Services. It is a FREE services that you are entitled to as a Miramar College student! If you are unsure of whether you should consult with an attorney, you can schedule an appointment with a Miramar Dreamers staff member first; however, you do not need a formal referral from our office. This page provides you with more information about our partners, the current status of DACA, and other community organizations that provide relief for immigrants.

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HELSFind Your AllyDACA | AB 60Other Resources

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Higher Education Legal Services

HELS provides FREE immigration legal services to students, staff, and faculty at San Diego and Imperial Valley Counties community and state colleges. Highly qualified legal practitioners provide culturally competent, trauma-informed, reliable expertise to the campus community. Virtual and in-person appointments are available; however, on-site appointments are only at the following college campuses: CSU San Marcos and San Diego State University, Mira Costa College, Cuyamaca College,  Southwestern College, and San Diego City and Mesa Colleges. For access to HELS staff at Miramar College, navigate to the Dreamers Events page to find upcoming workshops.

HELS Services

  • Consultations (ask us anything!)
  • DACA Renewals
  • Citizenship
  • Family-Based Immigration
  • Know Your Rights
  • Emergency Planning & Safety Preparedness
  • Advance Parole
  • Referrals for Removal Defense (going to court)
  • And more!

Additional Filing Fees Now Covered!

The Higher Education Legal Services program of Jewish Family Service of San Diego is excited to announce that we can now cover the filing fees for the following Immigration applications:

  • DACA Initial application
  • DACA Renewal application
  • Naturalization, and
  • Advance Parole

Funding is available to any current San Diego Miramar College student, staff, and/or faculty member. If you have any questions or are interested in learning more about a free and confidential immigration consultation, please visit our website at jfssd.org/HELS or give us a call at (858) 637-3345.

HELS Appointments

If you are ready to schedule an appointment with the Higher Education Legal Services, you can do so by phone at (858) 637-3345, by email using helsimmigration@jfssd.org, or online at www.jfssd.org/HELS.

Higher Education Legal Services

Higher Education Legal Services (HELS) provides FREE immigration legal services to students, staff, and faculty at community and state colleges in San Diego and Imperial Valley Counties.

For more information about the HELS program, call (858) 637-3345 or email helsimmigration@jfssd.org and follow on Instagram @hels_sd.

Schedule an Appointment

Servicios disponibles en español. Indique su idioma de preferencia en el formulario. Para asistencia en español, llame al 858-637-3345.

 

I'm NOT Jewish - Can I Participate?

Yes; you definitely can! You do not need to be Jewish or affiliated with the Jewish religion or the State of Israel to access services. Jewish Family Service of San Diego was founded in 1918 when it began serving Jewish refugees. As time passed, the list of services expanded and now, at JFS and the Higher Education Legal Services, we offer services to the community in general.

I'm NOT Affiliated with Miramar College - Can I Access the Program?

Possibly; keep reading. The Higher Education Legal Services (HELS) program provides services to eight CA Community Colleges in the San Diego and Imperial Valley region. HELS also provides services to two California State University campuses: San Diego State University and California State University at San Marcos. At the CSU level, HELS is able to provide services to current students, staff, faculty and their immediate relatives such as spouse, parents, children, and siblings.

I'm NOT Affiliated with Any CA College or University - What Services are Available to me?

Anyone not currently affiliated to a CA Community College or California State University campus may receive services with JFS’ General Immigration Services Department. To schedule an appointment, please email immigration@jfssd.org or call (858) 637-3365. If there is no answer, make sure to leave a message with your name, number, and reason for calling as missed calls are not returned.

Stop! If you are not sure if or how you qualify, schedule an appointment with a Miramar Dreamers Support staff member first and we will explain your options.

I'm Concerned About Privacy - Will Miramar College Know What I Talk to HELS About?

No; never! JFS and HELS abide by the HIPAA Act of 1996. Services are confidential from the moment an appointment is scheduled. This means that HELS will not be sharing client/potential client’s information with anyone outside of their office unless written consent has been provided by the client/potential client via our Consent to Release of Information form.

For example, in instances where a student is being referred or assisted by a faculty/staff in scheduling an appointment, HELS cannot confirm or deny to the faculty/staff if the student attended the appointment or not. Also, HELS will not communicate any details of the case to anyone other than the client/potential client and anyone included in the Consent to Release of Information.

Furthermore, in instances where a student is being referred or assisted by a faculty/staff in scheduling an appointment, college employees are bound by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the rights have transferred are "eligible students."


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Find Your Ally

The Higher Education Legal Services Project provides FREE immigration legal services to California Community Colleges students, faculty, and staff. This California-funded effort connects trusted legal service providers with individuals in need to assess their unique case and plan for their future. DACA renewal, Advance Parole and Naturalization filing fees are covered for eligible students attending California Community Colleges.

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Note: Our partnership with the Higher Education Legal Services means you do not need to go through the Find Your Ally system to get a legal consultation; although, you may do so if you would like. Refer to the above section for more details about FREE immigration legal services for Miramar College students through HELS.


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Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

What is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)? On June 15, 2012, President Obama announced that the U.S. government would not deport certain undocumented immigrants who came to the United States when they were children. Eligible individuals were able to apply for and given a type of temporary permission to stay in the U.S. called "deferred action." Deportation action was deferred for two years, subject to renewal for an additional two years. Students under DACA are considered by DHS (Department of Homeland Security) to be lawfully present in the United States during the period of deferred action.

Important DACA Update

On Thursday, September 13, 2023, Federal Court Judge Andrew Hanen, issued his decision regarding DACA. He ruled that the DACA program violates immigration law. However, the court did not order the Biden administration to shut down the DACA program or to stop processing renewal applications. DACA was found unlawful, but this is not the end for DACA recipients.

Current DACA Guidelines:

  • If you are a current DACA Recipient: You are still protected and you can still renew your DACA.
  • If you have been a DACA recipient but your status is expired:
    • Expired for one year or more: Your renewal will be treated as a new application, which are being accepted but are NOT being processed.
    • Expired for less than one year: You can still renew your DACA before one year past expiration.
  • If you are DACA eligible but have not applied: Applications are being accepted but are NOT being processed
  • If you are DACA eligible and have applied: Pending applications are still NOT being processed
  • Advance Parole: Advance Parole (travel document) is still open to DACA recipients. Processing times can be lengthy.

It is critical that everyone who may be a DACA recipient, DACA eligible, or whose DACA application is pending have an individual consultation with a trusted immigration provider; schedule an appointment with the Higher Education Legal Services by phone at (858) 637-3345, by email using helsimmigration@jfssd.org, or online at www.jfssd.org/HELS.

Source: jfssd.org/our-services/refugees-immigration/daca

ICYMI: DACA Updates Webinar

The Higher Education Legal Services staff has made available a virtual presentation that details the latest DACA news.  You can watch a recording of the webinar by clicking the button below.

DACA Webinar

 DACA Eligibility & Benefits

  • Under age 31 as of June 15, 2012
  • Entered U.S. prior to age 16
  • At least 15 years old at time of request
  • Resided continuously in the U.S. since June 15, 2007
  • Have not committed a felony or significant misdemeanor
  • Currently enrolled in high school, have graduated from a U.S. high school, earned a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces

What DACA Does:

  • Protection from deportation for 2 years at a time
  • Provides a Social Security Number
  • Provides work authorization
  • Access to a drivers license (CA does not require DACA to obtain a drivers license; see AB-60)

What DACA Does NOT Do:

  • Does not lead to permanent immigration status or a pathway to U.S. citizenship
  • DACA recipients cannot vote
  • DACA recipients cannot receive federal benefits like Social Security, federal financial aid, or food stamps

Renewing Your DACA

Due to federal court orders, USCIS continues to renew grants of deferred action under DACA that are current or have expired within one year. USCIS can accept, but is not processing, new requests from individuals who have never before been granted deferred action under DACA or that are expired for more than one year. Until further notice, and unless otherwise provided by USCIS, the DACA policy will be operated on the terms in place before it was rescinded on September 5, 2017. For more information visit U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The current DACA renewal fee is $495.

DACA renewal funding is available for students through our partners at the Higher Education Legal Services.

Paying for DACA

How to Fund DACA Renewals; Paying the $495 Fee

Saving $495 can be a challenge. Here are a few resources and suggestions for students who need support paying the application fees. San Diego Miramar College has partnered with the Higher Education Legal Services to provide FREE DACA renewals while funding lasts. If you are in need of financial assistance to cover your renewal fees contact schedule an appointment with our office to discuss your options.

  • Start a personal fundraising page on GoFundMe, which launched an effort to help DACA recipients crowd fund for renewal fees.
  • Send letters and emails to select friends or family members. Template here.
  • Instead of gifts for your birthday, ask for money to help you pay for the renewal request.


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AB 60 Drivers License

AB 60 is a California Assembly Bill that was signed into law in 2013. AB 60 directs the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to issue a driver’s license to any CA resident who is eligible, regardless of immigration status. This means that an applicant who is undocumented can receive a driver’s license under AB 60.

To access a CA driver’s licenses under AB 60, an individual who is unable to provide proof of legal presence in the United States needs to provide proof of identity and proof of residing in CA. Visit the CA DMV AB 60 webpage to learn more.

  • Fill out the DL – 44 license application
  • Pay $33 for the application fee
  • Prove your identity
  • Prove that you live in CA
  • Give a thumbprint, have your picture taken, and pass a vision test
  • Pass a written test to prove that you know the rules of the road. Remember to bring proof of auto insurance!

Make an appointment with the DMV to apply for an AB 60 license by calling 1-800-777-0133 or make an appointment online at dmv.ca.gov/portal/appointments.

Note: AB 60 driver’s licenses have a visible distinguishing mark which only allows them to be used for driving and cannot be used for federal or other purposes such as boarding a plane. If you have concerns with applying for a driver’s license because of your immigration or criminal record, we suggest that you talk to an attorney before you apply.

You do not need to pay anyone for information or services to help you apply for the AB 60 licenses. If anyone is charging you for this, they are breaking the law. Source: Alliance San Diego


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More Resources

San Diego Miramar College does NOT have formal partnerships with the following organizations; however, many of these institutions, non-profits, and companies do offer immigration-related services and other resources for free or reduced cost. We encourage you to explore all options available to you as every person's situation is different. NOTE: Always ask whether services are free or require payment before speaking with an immigration attorney. If you are ever asked to pay for services, be sure you are provided with a written document of services provided.

We strongly encourage you to speak with our legal aid partners at the Higher Education Legal Services before contacting these other organizations.

  • Alliance for African Assistance - Provides low-cost immigration and naturalization services including adjustment of status, application for naturalization, asylum and refugees, consular processing, relative petitions, and replacement of lost/damages USCIS documents.
  • Alliance San Diego - Non-profit providing one-on-one consultations and application assistance for citizenship, Green Card renewals, DACA, TPS, work authorization renewals, and FOIA requests.
  • Casa Cornelia - Provides free (known as pro-bono) counsel and representation to eligible unaccompanied minors, asylum seekers, and immigrant victims of crimes such as domestic violence, forced employment, and/or forced or coerced sex work.
  • Catholic Charities - Provides low-cost immigration services to eligible persons with an emphasis on family reunification, empowerment, and social integration.
  • Consulado General de México en San Diego (Mexican Consulate, San Diego) - Government website.
  • Legal Aid Society of San Diego - Naturalization & citizenship, removal defense, VAWA, U-Visa, T-Visa, Green Card renewal, waivers
  • Immi - Online resource screening tool for legal information and referrals to nonprofit legal services organizations.
  • Immigrants Rising - Immigration Legal Intake Service: an online survey to help undocumented young people learn about possible immigration options.
  • International Rescue Committee - Opportunities for refugees, asylees, victims of human trafficking, survivors of torture, and other immigrants including resettlement, employment development, citizenship services, and more.
  • Public Law Center - Assistance for low-income immigrants in filing for various forms of immigration relief with a focus on victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, victims of serious crimes, unaccompanied minors, and immigrants who wish to apply for citizenship.
  • The State Bar 🚨Caution🚨 You may be asked to pay expensive legal fees if you contact independent legal counsel for a consultation or services. Always ask whether services are free or require payment before speaking with an immigration attorney. Legal Services Resources for Immigrants: San Diego County.
  • Unitarian Universalist Refugee and Immigrant Services and Education (UURISE) - Provides low-cost and no-cost immigration legal services to help clients access the protections and benefits available under current immigration laws.

Note: San Diego Miramar College does not endorse the views or beliefs held by any outside organization, including those views and beliefs held by individuals who work for such organizations, either religious or secular in nature.


🚨Disclaimer: This webpage is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. You should contact our legal aid partners at the Higher Education Legal Services or another trusted, licensed legal representative to discuss your unique situation and circumstances.