Higher Education Legal Services (HELS) of Jewish Family Services San Diego has partnered with San Diego Miramar College to offer FREE immigration legal consultations.
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.
- Consultations (ask us anything!)
- DACA applications
- Family-based immigration
- Know Your Rights
- Emergency Planning & Safety Preparedness
- Advance Parole
- Removal defense (going to court)
- And more!
Accessing Immigration Legal Services
Jewish Family Service of San Diego, through their Higher Education Legal Services program (JFS-HELS), and your campus have partnered to provide you *FREE Immigration Legal Services. *USCIS fees not covered. See below for more info.
The Higher Education Legal Services (HELS) initiative is a unique opportunity for current students, staff, and faculty at local colleges to access personalized immigration legal services from immigration attorneys and Department of Justice representatives.
Attorney fees can be expensive, even for only a consultation. Services with the Higher Education Legal Services program are FREE of CHARGE meaning that a client or potential client will NOT have to pay out of pocket to obtain a consultation, legal assessment, or application completion. However, any processing fees required by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) are the responsibility of the applicant. USCIS fees can vary depending on the type of case. NOTE: The Higher Education Legal Services may be able to assist eligible students cover the costs associated with DACA renewal fees while funds are available. For more information navigate to the Miramar Dreamers DACA Information page. Visit the USCIS website for a complete list of current fees.
The Miramar College Dreamers Support Office strongly encourages all undocumented students schedule a consultation with the Higher Education Legal Services. It is a FREE services you are entitled to as a Miramar College Dreamer Student. If you are unsure of whether you should consult with an attorney, you can schedule an appointment with a Miramar Dreamers staff member here first; however, you do not need a formal referral from our office.
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 email@example.com, or online at www.jfssd.org/HELS.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Instagram @hels_sd.
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 email@example.com 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."
What is DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals? 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.
- 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 (renewal cost is $495)
- Social Security Number
- Work authorization
What DACA Does NOT Do:
- Does not put someone on the path to permanent legal immigration or U.S. citizenship
- DACA recipients cannot vote
- DACA recipients cannot receive any federal benefits, like Social Security, federal financial aid, or food stamps
Renewing Your DACA
Due to federal court orders, USCIS has resumed accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under DACA. USCIS is not accepting requests from individuals who have never before been granted deferred action under DACA. 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.
Paying for DACA
How to Fund DACA Renewals; Paying the $495 Fee
Saving $495 can really be a challenge. Here are a few resources and suggests for students who need support paying the application fees. NOTE: San Diego Miramar College has partnered with the Higher Education Legal Services to provide FREE DACA application and renewals while funding lasts. If you are in need of financial assistance to cover your initial DACA application or renewal fees contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finding Other Help:
- Use the Informed Immigrant DACA clinic map to search for DACA renewal clinics in your area.
- Use the Informed Immigrant Legal Service Directory to find a pro bono legal service organization near you.
- If you are a DACA beneficiary of Mexican origin, approach your consulate for an immigration screening and individualized legal assistance. Call 855-463-6395 or find a list of local Mexican Consulates.
- 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.
- Talk to your employer and ask if they can cover the cost of your renewal fee to minimize the risk that your employment would be disrupted while awaiting a decision on your DACA and work permit renewal.
- If you are a member of a faith group, reach out to your house of worship; they may be willing to help.
- Apply to the Voto Latino pro bono project with King & Spalding LLP UndocuNeighbor initiative.
- Apply to the United We Dream DACA renewal fund. For more information visit Informed Immigrant's DACA renewal guide.
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.
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.