Posted by Villanova University on March 28, 2023

VIISTA — Villanova Interdisciplinary Immigration Studies Training for Advocates — is a 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.

Students who earn VIISTA certificates will be eligible, under existing regulations, to apply to become Department of Justice “accredited representatives,” 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.

Learn more.

The Justamere Foundation is pleased to offer ten (10) scholarships to financially support passionate champions of immigrant justice to enroll in Villanova’s Interdisciplinary Immigration Studies Training for Advocates (VIISTA) program for the Summer 2023 Semester. Apply here by April 14.

The deadline to register and pay the deposit for the Summer semester is April 24.

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