About Immigration Law
The rapidly changing field of U.S. immigration law concerns issues related to both immigration (entering the country) and naturalization (establishing citizenship). Immigration law is a practice controlled exclusively by the federal government in a variety of bureaus overseen by the Department of Homeland Security. Hearings related to immigration can take place in a special administrative court system or in federal court.
Immigration lawyers work in a variety of settings. Larger law firms employ immigration attorneys who assist corporations in securing work visas for foreign workers. These practitioners spend much of their time dealing with the human resources departments of such corporations. Those who work in smaller firms or for public interest groups may focus more on personal or family immigration cases. These cases may involve undocumented alien residents and require practitioners to pursue remedies to help their clients avoid deportation. A number of immigration practitioners also work for the federal government, handling prosecutorial or administrative work for the USCIS.
The Law School offers a basic survey course in immigration each year. Students interested in pursuing a career in immigration should also take a course in Administrative Law. Students should also consider enrolling in foreign language classes offered elsewhere at the University, and may apply six of those credits towards their law degree.
Note: Whether a particular course is scheduled depends on faculty availability and student demand. View the Course Descriptions for more information about each course and when it's offered.
These are the core courses that — at a minimum — employers expect a student interested in this specialty to have.
Clinical Programs, Internships & Externships
Immigrant Justice Clinic
The Immigrant Justice Clinic works to meet the legal needs of Wisconsin’s underserved immigrant community while training law students in cutting-edge aspects of immigration law. Under the supervision of IJC clinical faculty, students provide direct representation to low-income immigrants in removal proceedings, provide assessments of immigration consequences to noncitizens facing criminal charges, and assist immigrants in need of post-conviction relief.
Students enrolled in the Humanitarian Law Track (HLT) provide legal services to noncitizen victims of crime, persecution, and human trafficking who are seeking various forms of humanitarian relief. By assuming responsibility for matters affecting low-income immigrants, students gain experience with a holistic, client-centered model of legal representation, and emerge with a deep understanding of the interplay between race, poverty, language, culture, immigration status and the law.
Legal Assistance to Institutionalized Persons Project
Students work under the supervision of clinical faculty to provide legal assistance— occasionally related to immigration issues—to state and federal prison inmates throughout Wisconsin. Each student visits one or more prisons and interviews inmates about their concerns.
Student Organizations & Related Activities
Students involved in student activities and organizations are often strong job candidates. Employers look for students who show leadership, public service, and community involvement.
- American Constitution Society
- National Lawyers Guild
- Advocates for Immigrants Rights (AIR)
- Wisconsin International Law Journal
For a full list of student organizations at UW Law, view the Student Organizations, Journals, & Activities.
Here are some of the full-time faculty who teach or have an interest in this subject area:
- Erin Barbato, Clinical Instructor; Director, Immigrant Justice Clinic
In addition to our full-time faculty, the Law School's adjunct faculty members — prominent practicing lawyers and judges — bring their specialized knowledge and experience to the classroom. Filter by "Adjunct" in the Law School Directory for a full list.