Legal Protection

In 1938 – the year that marked the Nazis’ transition from discrimination to genocide -- there was no concept of refugees who could count on international protection. Today, the United States and the international community recognize the human rights of refugees and international law prohibits any attempt to return refugees to danger.  

HIAS is dedicated to ensuring that refugees know their rights, have access to legal aid, and that their host countries recognize their right to security. This includes preserving family unity in refuge, as well as the right to work, to medical attention, and for children to attend school – all the things that help them maintain their human dignity.

We help refugees apply to countries around the world for resettlement. However, due to the small number of available slots, resettlement is typically approved only for the most vulnerable: women who are heads of households from cultures where men traditionally serve as protectors, orphaned or separated children, persecuted LGBT people, or survivors of torture.

Each year, thousands of individuals fleeing persecution travel to different countries, without having applied for refugee status, and request asylum. In the United States, instead of freedom, they are immediately detained and imprisoned without access to legal representation. HIAS is renowned for our legal expertise and we ensure that refugees are advised of their rights, are provided with detailed information about eligibility and the process of seeking asylum, and that trained legal counsel is secured for them at no or reduced expense.

Additionally, we provide free legal representation for artists, scientists, scholars, and other professionals and their families who have been persecuted in their native country and who seek asylum in the United States through our Prins Program. 

We also provide expert legal services for asylum seekers in Ukraine and Israel.