May 2024: 4-Part Survivor-Based Relief Practical Skills Course

May 14, 2024 2:00PM—May 23, 2024 4:00PM



Cost See conference fee options.

Event Contact Maria Lazzarino | Email


ASISTA Virtual Practice Skills Course

4-Part Survivor-Based Relief Practical Skills Course

Dates: May 14, May 16, May 21 & May 23, 2024 ~ 2-4pm ET

(1-3pm CT/12-2pm MT/11am-1pm PT/8-10am HT)


When did you last verify best practices for the skills you use in survivor-based cases? When did you last re-evaluate your habits and techniques and get feedback from an expert? USCIS constantly evolves its policies and practices, and we all must do the same if we hope to continue winning rights for survivors.

To sharpen your skills and update your practices, ASISTA invites you to this virtual four-part course on the practical legal skills used in successful representation of immigrant survivors. The program is intended for both long-practicing and new or pro-bono attorneys, DOJ Accredited Representatives, paralegals, and law student interns wishing to enhance their approaches to all stages of representation. Session 1 will focus on intake and case strategy development; Session 2 on declaration drafting and evidence selection; Session 3 on inadmissibility analyses and waiver preparation; and Session 4 on responding to requests for evidence and problematic decisions. Throughout, you will practice ingraining a habit of choosing trauma-informed techniques at every juncture. 

Please note that this course will follow a realistic but fictitious client through a VAWA application process. Although the skills examined are widely applicable across survivor-based case types, basic familiarity with the legal requirements for VAWA will be assumed.  (Click here to access the full agenda)

Fundamentals/Intermediate Training: 8 CLE credits

Day ONE: Tuesday, May 14, 2:00- 4:00pm ET

Intake and Initial Meetings: We start the course at the start of the case. Presented with a fact pattern, we discuss intake techniques to identify the primary strengths, weaknesses, and strategy decisions arising in a fictitious client’s cases. We identify critical facts that remain unknown and discuss how to learn them. Throughout, we remember the impacts of trauma on how the client presents in initial meetings, and how we can help minimize retraumatization.


  • Astrid Munn, Lead U/T/VAWA Attorney, Immigrant Legal Center
  • Lia Ocasio, Staff Attorney, ASISTA
  • Kristen Stanley, Cornell Law School

Day TWO: Thursday, May 16, 2:00-4:00pm ET

Declaration Drafting and Preparation of Other Evidence: In our second session, we focus on mid-case skills surrounding the gathering and preparation of strong evidence. We start by modeling client interview techniques that are effective and trauma-informed. From there, we take on the task of distilling, re-ordering, and framing what our client told us into a readable, relevant, and credible declaration. Along the way, we identify places where external corroborating evidence will be important and suggest tips for obtaining it, incorporating it into our brief, and ensuring USCIS takes what we want from its content.


  • Rebecca Eissenova, Senior Staff Attorney, ASISTA 
  • Tim Paikopoulos, Senior Attorney, South Coastal Counties Legal Services
  • Trisha Teofilo Olave, National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) 

Day THREE: Tuesday, May 21, 2:00-4:00pm ET

Evaluating Admissibility and Preparing a Waiver Application: For our third session, we reconnect with our fictitious client as she prepares to file for adjustment of status (based on her VAWA self-petition). We thoroughly evaluate what we now know of her case for any inadmissibility grounds, and assess possible legal arguments surrounding them. For grounds that must be waived, we discuss how to present the strongest possible application for a waiver. Because it’s possible she may be interviewed for adjustment, we also address best practices to be trauma-informed while preparing her for that setting.


  • Kelly Byrne, Staff Attorney, ASISTA
  • Nicole Weitnauer, Senior Attorney, Antonini & Cohen Immigration Law Group
  • Victoria Maqueda Feldman, Ayuda 

Day FOUR: Thursday, May 23, 2:00-4:00pm ET

Responding to RFEs and Problematic Decisions: We end with techniques for responding when USCIS does not agree our filings have presented a winning case. First, our client receives a difficult RFE, to which we must respond on time. Then, to our frustration, she receives a denial that is also problematic. Our experts walk through tips on making arguments about the premises of USCIS’s demands and determinations, selecting evidence to supply in response, and choosing when it is appropriate to move to reopen, reconsider, appeal, or do something else.


  • Evangeline Chan, Director of the Immigration Law Project, Safe Horizon
  • Payal Signha, Managing Attorney, Tahirih Justice Center
  • Cristina Velez, Legal & Policy Director, ASISTA

Prices for full training (4 sessions = 8 CLE credit hrs.)

  • $80 Special Rate for Students
  • $350 Legal Staff/Advocates/Non-Profit 
  • $450 ASISTA Member Private Attorney
  • $600 Non-member  

Prices for 2 sessions (2 sessions = 4 CLE credit hrs.)

  • $40 Special Rate for Students 
  • $225 Legal Staff/Advocates/Non-Profit 
  • $275 ASISTA Member Private Attorney
  • $350 Non-member 

Note: Prices for training will increase $50 on Friday, May 10th. Processing fees apply for online payments.

Note: Event registration is not transferable. Training revenue is a critical component of ASISTA’s funding, and we depend on it to continue our operations. As a result, we ask that everyone attending the conference or accessing the session recordings register in the appropriate category. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation.

CLE: 8 hrs of Texas MCLE credits will be applied for this conference. Certificates of attendance will be available upon request and completion of training. 

Interested in sponsoring this conference? Your support will be highlighted in conference outreach and materials, during  the conference, and includes a FREE registration spot.

Interested in sponsoring ASISTA all year round? Check out our 2024 annual sponsorship opportunities for even more benefits, and to show your support for ASISTA all year long to over 9,000 advocates, attorneys, law firms, organizations, and more!

Questions: Contact Maria Lazzarino at with any questions.

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    ASISTA mailing address: PO Box 12, Suffield, CT, 06078