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By studying immigration law at New England Law | Boston, you will experience the true work of an immigration lawyer, from assisting individuals looking to enter or remain in the U.S. to helping businesses navigate international hiring to developing policies with global implications. And you’ll be at the forefront of human rights and national security issues, such as refugee and asylum claims, human trafficking, and transnational migration.

Law school certificate in Immigration Law
Learn more about our certificate in Immigration Law

What Do Immigration Lawyers Do?

The United States sees a constant influx of people hoping to live, work, and study within its borders, and immigration lawyers can help individuals, families, and businesses navigate those various and often complex immigration pathways. A person’s immigration status might impact and intersect with other legal matters too, such as family law, criminal law, business law, and tax law, and being well versed in immigration law is important for attorneys practicing in those areas as well.

Immigration lawyers may represent clients in administrative courts, or they may counsel clients about their legal rights and obligations related to immigration, among other things. They also suggest courses of action based on their knowledge of immigration law.

“Many elements of society break down when we get immigration wrong. That’s why business and law enforcement are asking lawyers, judges, and government officials to fix this. Our Sanctuary City Initiative is one of the ways New England Law is contributing to a solution that can work to everyone’s benefit. It’s the right thing to do morally, and it makes economic sense.” —Professor Dina Francesca Haynes, Certificate Program Director

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Becoming an Immigration Lawyer

Earn an Immigration Law Certificate

Our Immigration Law certificate program provides students with the experience they need to become an immigration lawyer capable of making an impact right away.

In addition to their robust coursework in immigration and international law, students work under the tutelage of program director Dina Francesca Haynes, who served as Director General of the Human Rights Department for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Bosnia-Herzegovina and as Human Rights Adviser to the OSCE in Serbia and Montenegro. She also held field posts for both the UN High Commissioners for Refugees and Human Rights.

Immigration law students have invaluable internship, externship, and volunteer opportunities available to them, everywhere from clinics and agencies here in Boston to the U.S.-Mexico border. Through these real-world positions, our students have made a tangible difference in the lives of countless immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.

If you are passionate about becoming an immigration lawyer, you will be well-served by the practical experience and unique coursework offered at New England Law.

Immigration Law Courses

This certificate is awarded in conjunction with our JD degree. In addition to their foundational legal coursework, students pursuing a certificate in Immigration Law can choose among many exciting elective classes to meet their credit requirements. These may include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Administrative Law
  • Business Immigration Law
  • Crimmigration
  • Immigration Law
  • Immigration Law Research
  • Human Trafficking Law and Policy
  • Law Practice Management
  • Refugee and Asylum Law

Experiential Learning Opportunities

Students in our Immigration Law certificate program must meet an experiential learning requirement. Some of the hands-on learning experiences available to them include:

Learning Outcomes

When you graduate from New England Law with a certificate in Immigration Law, you will:

  • Be prepared to work in one or more areas of the immigration legal profession, including transactional and litigation settings.
  • Have hands-on experience related to your professional goals and interests.
  • Understand the roles of the immigration lawyer in various contexts, such as family and employment-based immigration, defense of removal, asylum, and other immigrant and non-immigrant visas, as well as immigration policy.
  • Know your professional and ethical responsibilities to your clients—and appreciate the power of the law and your ability to affect the lives and well-being of others.
  • Have strong foundational lawyering skills, such as legal research and analysis, problem-solving, and communicating effectively.

Working in Immigration Law

Immigration Law Alumni Profile

Manmeet Kaur Desai '14, immigration law alumna
Manmeet Kaur Desai ’14, Global Immigration Counsel, Charles River Associates

Before coming to law school and interning with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Manmeet Kaur Desai was a high school teacher “wanting to effect change and do something with international human rights.” The path to achieving that became clear when she attended a summer study abroad program in Malta; not only did she meet Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court John G. Roberts, Jr., a guest lecturer in the program, but she also studied refugee and asylum law and worked with refugees with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

“It was international human rights law with a different spin,” she says. “I worked with individuals who had left their countries, and I saw how the law and their human rights were tied together. To see that vulnerability and their reliance on the law, that’s what attracted me. I just knew I had to practice immigration law.”

Since graduating the Houston native has worked for two Boston-area consulting firms, first as in-house counsel and as immigration program manager. She also serves as vice president of the South Asian Bar Association of Greater Boston.

Program Director


Dina Francesca Haynes 

Professor Dina Francesca Haynes, director of the Immigration Law certificate program, is a former director general of the Human Rights Department for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Bosnia-Herzegovina; protection officer for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees; and attorney with the US Department of Justice. Learn more

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