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Immigration & Asylum

The U.S. has historically been seen as a place where those fleeing persecution in their countries of origin may find safety. NCLR was the first national LGBTQ organization to have an Immigration Project, which started in 1994, the same year the U.S. recognized that immigrants facing persecution on the basis of their sexual orientation could seek protection as refugees and asylees. Since then, NCLR’s Immigration Project has advanced immigration law and assisted thousands of LGBTQ immigrants in obtaining legal status in the U.S. and avoid being forced to return to their countries of origin where they would be targeted for abuse, violence, and even death because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

In addition, prior to nationwide marriage equality in 2015, the Immigration Project assisted many LGBTQ bi-national couples who would otherwise face separation, since many same-sex couples or couples with a transgender partner faced difficulties obtaining relationship recognition, and uncertainty in whether their relationship would be recognized by the U.S. government for immigration purposes.

Elias’s story

Elias is a gay man from Brazil. He suffered bullying and harassment for being different for most of his childhood. At the age of 18, through a church program, Elias sought a sponsor to help him pay to study abroad so that he could leave Brazil. For 16 years, Elias has been studying abroad on student visas and has earned a Bachelor’s in the United States, two Master’s degrees from Austria and France, and studying and working in various other countries.


Get Help

Using this form, provide us with information about the issue you face
or call during office hours (9am-5pm Pacífic M-F):

NCLR Legal Help Line
800.528.6257  |  415.392.6257

Obtenga Ayuda

Utilizando de esto formulario, proporciónenos información sobre el problema que enfrenta
o llamarnos durante horas de oficina (9-5 Hora del Pacífico L-V):

NCLR Línea de Ayuda Legal
800.528.6257  |  415.392.6257


Legislation & Policy

Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act (H.R. 2415/ S. 1243)


The Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act makes would make needed reforms to the U.S. immigration system, including ending mandatory detention, ensuring that only those who are a threat to the community are detained and creating a presumption of release, establishing a presumption that vulnerable individuals–including LGBTQ individuals, young people, and victims of crimes–should be placed in community-based supervision programs rather than detention facilities, removing the minimum bond amount of $1,500 for release, requiring immigration judges to consider an individual’s ability to pay when setting a bond, and other changes.


Cases & Advocacy

In re M.G.


M.G. is a transgender woman who fled Mexico in 2002 because of threats from gang members and violence from police. Unfortunately, due to the severe trauma she suffered from her past, she found herself in vulnerable positions even in this country which made it difficult or impossible for her to apply for asylum.  With NCLR’s assistance, M.G. completed her asylum application and was granted asylum in early 2019.



Press Release

NCLR Denounces Trump Administration’s “Public Charge Rule” Criminalizing Immigrants Benefitting From Social Welfare Programs

August 14, 2019. Today the Trump Administration published in final form its discriminatory “public charge” rule after strong opposition from a broad spectrum of immigration advocates, civil rights organizations, and mainstream media, including even the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal. Under this new rule, immigrants who lawfully or the government considers are likely to use certain social safety net programs—-including Medicaid and SNAP (food stamps)—after the rule goes into effect may be barred from entering the country or becoming a lawful permanent resident.


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