At Solano Law Firm, LLC, we are committed to our service members and military families. For this reason, Zaira Solano is a member the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Military Assistance Program. This innovative program connects active duty military personnel and their families with immigration issues that may arise during their service. To learn more about the AILA Military Assistance Program, keep reading.
What Is the AILA Military Assistance Program?
Immigrants are an essential part of the United States Military. There are roughly 65,000 immigrants that are actively serving in the armed services. However, an immigration issue can distract a service member while on deployment, or cause undue stress and heartbreak for our dedicated military families. The AILA Military Assistance Program (MAP) addresses these issues by connecting families with a volunteer immigration attorney for little to no cost.
Founded in 2008, AILA MAP has helped thousands of active duty troops and their families with both their simple and complex immigration issues. AILA member attorneys, along with Legal Assistance Offices (LAO) staff provide assistance through the program.
Please note that while eligible service members and families do not have to pay attorney fees, they may be responsible for certain costs associated with their cases. This may include up to $250 for the attorney’s case costs and any filing fees associated with your claim.
Why Are Programs Like the AILA Military Assistance Program So Important?
For decades, immigrants have been attracted to the U.S. armed services by a sense of patriotism and duty. However, documented immigrants have another incentive when joining the military — service members and their families sometimes qualify for expedited or streamlined citizenship.
Unfortunately, many immigrant enlistees complain of an increasing pressure and scrutiny from within the government. Hundreds of immigrant soldiers have claimed that they were suddenly and unjustifiably expelled from the military in recent years, allegedly due to their immigration status. The current administration has also tried to impose burdensome eligibility requirements on documented immigrants who want to enlist, making it harder for patriotic, documented immigrants to join the military service. Lawsuits have followed these actions, and will likely continue.
At Solano Law Firm, LLC, we believe that immigrants who are willing to serve in the United States military deserve our deep respect. That’s why we have a long history of participating in AILA MAP and representing service members and their families. Simply put, immigrants, especially immigrant service members, need all the help they can get.
In addition to the AILA Military Assistance Program, service members may also be eligible for other programs and benefits, including the USCIS Military Helpline (877-247-4645).
Who Qualifies for the AILA Military Assistance Program?
Due to intense demand, the AILA Military Assistance Program is not available to everyone. You may be eligible for immigration assistance if you are:
- Active duty military
- Recent veterans who have been out of the military for no more than two years
- A parent, spouse, or child of a service member
Other family members, like siblings, do not qualify for the program. Additionally, AILA MAP typically will only represent you once.
If you do not qualify for AILA MAP, don’t panic. Instead, you should contact an experienced immigration lawyer at Solano Law Firm, LLC. We can help you understand your legal options and help you build an immigration strategy that meets your specific needs.
How Do I Apply for the AILA Military Assistance Program?
Rather than contact an immigration lawyer directly, eligible military personnel, veterans, and family members should request assistance directly from AILA MAP. To apply, you can complete an online form and give the program information about:
- Your contact information
- Your military service or connection to a service member
- Information about your immigration issue
- Data that assesses your eligibility for AILA MAP and other programs
If you’re eligible for assistance, you will be connected to an immigration attorney within three months of your application — although the wait may be longer when demand is high.
Notably, you cannot select your immigration lawyer when you participate in AILA MAP. Instead, the program will assign you a volunteer lawyer who may or may not be in your home state. While all AILA Military Assistance Program volunteers provide high-quality legal assistance, some people are uncomfortable with this lack of control. If you’d rather select your own immigration attorney, contact our office for a free consultation.
I Have an Immigration Emergency. Should I Contact AILA MAP?
The AILA Military Assistance Program handles cases on a first-come, first-served basis. This means that you should never rely on AILA MAP for emergency assistance or when you’re facing an imminent deployment.
Instead, you should contact an experienced immigration lawyer directly. If possible, you should look for an attorney who understands the struggles of military and immigrant families.
Learn More About the AILA Military Assistance Program
If you or your loved one have questions about immigration law, your rights as a service member or military family member, or the AILA Military Assistance Program, contact Solano Law Firm, LLC today. Our founder, Zaira Solano, is a military spouse and a respected immigration lawyer. We are passionate about our immigrant enlistees’ immigration rights and would love to help you understand your legal options. Contact us today to learn more about our services.