The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) provides free legal help to some refugees and displaced people.
- IRAP helps some people find services and prepare refugee and visa applications.
- IRAP is not part of any government, IOM, or UNHCR.
- IRAP cannot grant refugee status or visas or speed up cases.
- IRAP cannot provide financial help, find or pay for housing, or find jobs.
- All of IRAP’s help is free. No one affiliated with IRAP has the right to ask you for money or any other service.
IRAP decides to help people based on their need and eligibility for immigration status. IRAP does not decide to help people based on any other social or political or religious criteria.
This website provides general information about legal processes available to some refugees. It is not meant as legal advice for individual applications.
This information was revised in August 2023. Requirements may change. Always check for current requirements from the government or agency deciding your request.
If you are in a refugee emergency, we recommend that you contact the UNHCR office in the country where you live .
This article provides general information about asking a member of Congress for help with a U.S. immigration or refugee application.
Many U.S. processes take a very long time. Some people applying for refugee status or visas will wait for many years for an answer in their case. This can be very difficult and frustrating.
If your application is delayed, you can take the following steps to check on the status of your case:
- If you are applying for refugee status, you can contact your resettlement support center. Information to contact your resettlement support center is here.
- If you are applying for a visa, you should contact USCIS or the embassy that is processing your application. You can find a list of contact information for U.S. embassies here.
Another step that you can take is to ask a member of the U.S. Congress to ask about your case.
If you have issues with your immigration or refugee application, someone living in the United States can contact their members of Congress to ask for help with an application. Many members of Congress do not respond to requests from people who do not live in their district. A person who does live in the district for a member of Congress is called a constituent.
If you live in the United States, you can ask your members of Congress for help. If you do not, a family member or another close contact can ask their member of Congress.
A member of Congress cannot approve or deny your application. But they can ask for more information about your case status.
How to request help from a Congressional Office:
Step 1: Find your member of Congress on this website. Enter the home address for you, your family member, or friend.
The United States has two types of members of Congress--senators and representatives. You can contact both your senators and your representative at the same time to request help with your case. You can ask for help from more than one congressional office at once. If any office asks you if another office is helping you, tell them the truth.
Step 2: To contact a Congress member, visit the official website of the senator or representative from website above.
Many members of Congress allow translation of their website into other languages. Some Congress members' websites are available only in English. If the Congress member’s website is not available in your preferred language, you can use Google Translate to translate the website by following these steps:
- Go to translate.google.com.
- In the left text box, enter the website address of the Congress member’s website. Set the language to “English.”
- Choose the language you want to translate the website to by clicking the “Down” arrow over the right text box. Select the language you want to translate to.
- Click on the website link that appears in the right-hand box. This will open a new tab with the website translated into your preferred language.
Step 3: Once you are on the member of Congress’s website, find the page where a constituent can ask for help with a federal agency. This may be under the “Services” or “Contact” tab. It may say “Get Help with a Federal Agency” or “Casework.” The webpage may look like this.
The site should give instructions on how to ask the Congress member’s office for help. You can find instructions with the Department of State if you are a visa applicant. You can find instructions with the Department of Homeland Security if your application is still with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. This includes an application for refugee resettlement.
You will either have to download and submit a form through email or submit a form online.
Step 4: On the online or downloaded form, be sure that you or your family member or contact includes the following information:
- The name and address of the person living in the member’s district to confirm that you or they are a constituent;
- Your name, date of birth, case number, and the embassy, consulate, or USCIS office processing your application;
- A brief description of your case, including information about:
- What the major issue is in your case;
- Any steps that you have already taken to try to address this issue;
- Any details about your current situation.
- A request that the Congress member’s office ask the government office about your case; and
- Thanking the office for their time and help.
Step 5: You will need to sign a Privacy Waiver. This is a form that gives the Congressional office permission to get information about your case. Your family member or contact should also fill out their own form if they are submitting the request for you. Click here to see a sample of a privacy waiver.
Submit the Privacy Waiver with the Congressional Inquiry request form. Follow instructions on the website and the form on how to submit the Privacy Waiver and the Congressional Inquiry request form to the Congress member’s office.
Step 6: If you cannot find the instructions on how to request help on the Congress member’s website, find the phone number for the Congress member’s office on their website. Call their office to ask how to submit a request for help with your immigration case.
Please note that the person helping you will not be the member of Congress. The person helping you will be someone who works for the member of Congress.
It is important to be polite and patient. It is also important to follow up every month if you do not hear back.
Are There Negative Consequences of Filing a Congressional Inquiry?
Some applicants may fear that there will be negative consequences of requesting a congressional inquiry. For example, an individual may fear that their immigration case will be denied because they asked a Congress member for help.
IRAP cannot say for certain whether a congressional inquiry will negatively impact your immigration case. However, it could help to show that a member of Congress supports your case.
Asking for help
You or your relative may want to ask an immigration attorney for help with this process. Here are a few resources:
- Information about asking for help from IRAP is here.
- If you are in Jordan, you can ask for IRAP Jordan’s help using this form. If the form is closed, you can check back at a later date.
- A list of free immigration legal service providers in the United States is available here. These attorneys are not affiliated with IRAP.
- A list of private immigration attorneys in the United States is available here. Please note that private immigration attorneys may charge a fee for their services. These attorneys are not affiliated with IRAP.