As the largest provider of immigration legal services in Northern California, IIBA has various pro bono programs throughout our eight office network, focusing on providing limited scope opportunities for pro bono attorneys, professionals, and law students that require little time commitment but can have a tremendous impact on those we serve.
Limited Scope Workshops
IIBA hosts several citizenship workshops during the year throughout our Bay Area locations. Volunteers for these workshops help legal permanent residents fill out the N-400, the form that establishes an applicant’s eligibility for citizenship.
San Mateo County
IIBA’s Redwood City office holds citizenship workshops on a monthly basis.
The Redwood City office also holds large weekend workshops in collaboration with San Mateo County and the New Americans Campaign (NAC) throughout the year. These workshops are open to all applicants, but specifically target low income individuals who receive public benefits.
To learn more about Redwood City’s naturalization workshops, email email@example.com.
IIBA’s Napa offices holds monthly citizenship workshops.
To learn more about Napa’s citizenship workshops, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Contra Costa County
IIBA’s East Contra Costa County office holds three to four offsite citizenship workshops a year.
To learn more about East Contra Costa County’s citizenship workshop, email email@example.com
San Francisco County
IIBA’s San Francisco office hosts three naturalization workshops within an organizational partner’s office during the calendar year. Such workshops are programmed far in advance of the event date in coordination with IIBA’s Pro Bono Manager.
Additionally, IIBA’s San Francisco office is part of the SF Pathway to Citizenship Initiative’s Naturalization Collaborative, which holds large weekend naturalization workshops in San Francisco throughout the year. To learn more about the collaborative and sign up for the listserve, visit sfcitizenship.org.
Volunteer Profile: Charles Comey
“Becoming an attorney, you take an oath to uphold the constitution,” Charles Comey explains. “A fundamental way to uphold the constitution is to give something back to a part of the community that you typically wouldn’t have a chance to interact with.”
One of the first citizenship workshops Charles volunteered at was on election day, in November 2016. “It was really coming full circle for me,” he says.
As a law student, Charles had helped with a political asylum case, supporting a professor who had fled China during the political unrest in 1989. When the case succeeded, Charles saw how the professor and his family’s lives changed for the better. It left a lasting impression.
Now a mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance partner at Morrison & Foerster, Charles was looking for a way to get back into immigration law. Through his firm’s pro bono department, he learned more about IIBA’s citizenship workshops.
Charles says one of his favorite parts about volunteering is learning everyone’s story. “All the people I have interacted with, uniformly, are highly motivated. They are highly invested in the new story they are writing as they develop further ties with the United States.”
IIBA appreciates Charles and all of our volunteers. We could not do the work we do without them.
Full Scope Opportunities with IIBA’s Oakland Office
IIBA’s Oakland office hosts an in-house volunteer program. Participants work on U-Visa petitions, which confer immigration benefits upon applicants who are victims of a qualifying crime, assist law enforcement, and suffer substantial physical or mental abuse as a result. We ask that pro bono volunteers commit to 2 days a week (15 hours) in-office work for a period of three months. Participants benefit from substantial mentorship from IIBA’s legal staff.
To learn more, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Law Student Internships
IIBA’s Oakland office also hosts a summer internship program for law students.
To learn more, email email@example.com.
Have a new project idea to help immigrants? We’d love to partner with you!
In addition to IIBA’s established pro bono opportunities, we welcome new pro bono project ideas from our organizational partners. If you are interested in initiating a pro bono partnership with IIBA or are interested in hosting a limited-scope workshop in your office, please contact IIBA’s Pro Bono Manager, Valentina Ozbek, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Staff Profile: IIBA’s Pro Bono Manager, Valentina Ozbek
Inspired by the “let the lawyers in, let the families out!” chants at the SFO airport travel ban demonstrations in early 2017, Valentina felt compelled to channel her legal education towards advocating for immigrants.
With her combined background as a law firm associate and immigrant advocate, she has found tremendous joy and fulfillment in developing IIBA’s pro bono program, while also working with immigrant clients on humanitarian and family-based petitions.
Valentina obtained a B.A. with Distinction in Political Science from Stanford University and a J.D. from Berkeley Law, Boalt Hall, where she was awarded the Advocacy Award. Before joining IIBA, Valentina was an associate at DLA Piper, LLP, where she coordinated large-scale real estate transactions and dedicated herself to various U Visa and asylum pro bono matters.
Valentina has been advocating for marginalized individuals for over a decade, beginning as an undergraduate intern at the Stanford Community Law Clinic, and later as a law clerk at Nolan, Armstrong, & Barton, LLP, a criminal defense firm. She continued her advocacy work in law school with the California Asylum Representation Clinic, the East Bay Community Law Clinic’s immigration unit, and the Habeas Corpus Resource Center.
Valentina is an immigrant from Cucuta, Colombia and a native Spanish speaker. She has an extensive theater background, which comes in handy when performing training presentations for pro bono volunteers.