Immigration Law Clinic


General Description

Clinic students represent immigrants requesting asylum, facing removal from the United States, and seeking special protection under the Violence Against Women Act. Students also help clients to overcome linguistic and cultural barriers that could impede their success in the U.S. legal system.

Clients may include refugees, immigrant women and children survivors of domestic violence applying to change their status, persons with criminal convictions who seek relief from removal from the United States, and other immigrant populations.

Services to the Public

Clinic personnel specialize in serving immigrants in removal proceedings and asylum cases, as well as survivors of domestic violence.

Potential clients should call the clinic at 412.648.1300 to request an appointment.

Description of Fieldwork / Client Representation

In representing clients under the supervision of the clinical professor, students perform all aspects of case preparation including interviewing clients, writing pleadings, appearing in Immigration Court, appearing before administrative agencies, and managing post-relief issues.

Students are also expected to collaborate with community-based organizations that serve Pittsburgh’s foreign-born population, such as the Jewish Family & Children's Service and the Latino Family Center among others.

Description of Classroom Component

During the first semester, the clinic will address substantive aspects of the Immigration and Nationality Act and other applicable national and international law as well as advocacy and lawyering skills relevant to students' work at the clinic.

Second-semester students will not attend the weekly two-hour classroom session but instead will devote significantly more time to effective case management and client representation before the Immigration Court and other agencies, and engage in other assigned clinic-related work such as client interviewing and outreach activities. Second-semester students also will attend the weekly case supervision.


2-semester clinic, 4 credits each semester.

Transcript / Awarding of Credits

The Immigration Law Clinic is a two-semester clinic. Students may enroll in the spring or the fall semesters, but must complete 2 semesters in order to receive credit


To be determined.

Application Procedure and Selection Basis

Enrollment limit: 8 students per semester

Enrollment priorities/preferences: 3L, fluency in languages other than English, and experience with community work.

Students that have taken Immigration Law

Additional Contact


Faculty / Staff

Sheila Velez Martinez, Director of Clinical Programs

Professor Sheila I Vélez Martínez is the Jack and Lovell Olender Professor of Asylum Refugee and Immigration Law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. She is also the Director of Clinical Programs and the Immigration Law Clinic. Her academic publications and academic interests include issues related to immigrant women, Puerto Rican migration, Caribbean Migration, remittances, legal pedagogy and OutCrit theory.

She joined Pitt Law as a visiting professor in 2010 to establish the Immigration Law Clinic. She is a member of the Board of Directors of LatCrit (Latino and Latina Critical Legal Studies Inc.) and also of Friends of Farmworkers. She holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law.

Nancy Alemañy Alvarez, Clinic Administrative Assistant