Welcoming Saint Paul:
Immigrant and Refugee Program


While the Saint Paul City Attorney’s Office does not represent individuals or provide legal guidance to residents. The mission of our office is to ensure that Saint Paul continues to be a welcoming place to live for all residents including immigrants and refugees by:

  • Facilitating the successful integration of immigrants and refugees into Saint Paul’s civic, economic, and cultural life;
  • Advocating on behalf of immigrant and refugee communities in Saint Paul to ensure justice and equity for all City residents; and
  • Promoting a City-wide culture that understands and values the benefits, including economic benefits, which all members of our society receive when immigrants and refugee communities are successfully integrated into our civic, economic, and cultural life.

Additionally, our office seeks to help our immigrant and refugee communities by giving them the tools and resources to understand the ever-changing immigration laws and policies that affect their daily lives. Our office develops programming designed to support and empower our immigrant and refugee communities. We provide resources on our site intended to inform individuals of their rights so that they can more easily protect and exercise their rights. 

The Saint Paul City Attorney’s Office values inclusiveness, honesty, integrity, community, equity, resiliency, and innovation. These are the guiding principles behind our mission and our programs. We believe that promoting such values will have a positive impact on Saint Paul and its residents, strengthening our community as a result.

Legal Defense Program

A collaborative of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota (ILCM), The Advocates for Human Rights (AHR) and Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid (MMLA) has been selected as the service provider for the Ramsey County/City of Saint Paul Immigration Legal Defense Fund.

The collaborative will represent clients who live in Ramsey County or Saint Paul, who do not have legal representation, who are detained and face removal, and who earn less than 200% of the poverty guidelines. Potential clients may contact any of the following phone numbers below to have their case evaluated:

  • ILCM intake/detention line:      651-641-1011
  • AHR intake line:                        612-341-9845
  • MMLA intake line:                     612-334-5970

Recent reports by national media outlets on the federal immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division’s potential enforcement actions in U.S. cities has caused concern for many.  At the local level, we are committed to ensuring Saint Paul is a safe, welcoming and inclusive city for all of us. While we are not aware of any planned ICE enforcement actions in our city, the City of Saint Paul, and our Saint Paul Police Department will not cooperate, facilitate enforcement actions, or ask for immigration documentation or status. 

New American Loan Program

The New American Loan Program is part of the City's Citizen Encouragement Project, a major initiative of Welcoming Saint Paul. The Project's mission is to increase citizenship among eligible U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents living in Saint Paul and is based on the Cities for Citizenship' founding principle that "when municipal leaders develop and invest in naturalization efforts, it produces substantial economic and civic benefits for all their constituents".

For the approximately 10,000 permanent residents in our community, the two most common barriers to naturalization are an inability to speak, read, and write in English, and financial challenges in paying for the application filing fees. 

In an effort to address the financial challenges U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents living in Saint Paul face, the City of Saint Paul in collaboration with Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union created the New American Loan Program. The program provides no-interest loans to residents to pay for fees related to applications for naturalization or other immigration benefits from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). This program will also support efforts to ensure all residents have access to financial services, resources, and education. 

For more information on the New American Loan Program and how to apply see:

Gateways for Growth

The  Gateways for Growth Challenge (G4G) is a competitive opportunity for localities to receive research support and/or technical assistance from New American Economy (now American Immigration Council) and Welcoming America to improve immigrant inclusion in their communities.  In the fall of 2020, Saint Paul (the City of St. Paul, with its supporting partner the St. Paul Area Chamber), and Minneapolis (the Minneapolis Regional Chamber, with its supporting partner the City of Minneapolis) each received separate technical assistance grants from the G4G Initiative. The G4G awards included the preparation of two data reports entitled New Americans in Minneapolis  published in June 2021 and New Americans in Saint Paul and East Metro Area, MN published in September 2021.

Minneapolis and Saint Paul each leveraged their respective reports and initiated community engagement efforts to garner community feedback on how to make each city more welcoming and supportive for immigrants and marginalized communities and to develop multi-sector immigrant inclusion plans for each city.  Each city began their separate engagement process with initial meetings to introduce the G4G opportunity and invite interested individuals and organizations to join an Advisory Committee. 

These engagements were initiated against the profound and ongoing societal impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic and the many effects following the killing of George Floyd.  During these initial efforts to garner community feedback each city realized that Twin Cities residents in were in shock and exhausted and those emotions were strongly reflected in these preliminary conversations. In addition to identifying the impacts of ongoing community trauma, Twin Cities residents expressed frustration at what was being described as “over-engagement” without ever seeing input reflected in a final product. There was an understandable skepticism regarding whether this initiative would result in tangible outcomes benefiting the Twin Cities immigrant and refugee community.  An additional complication was that each municipality’s initiative was inviting the same organizations and communities to join their initiative, doubling the time commitment for stakeholders who ultimately formed the Advisory Committee. Leaders of the Saint Paul and Minneapolis G4G initiatives recognized that establishment of a joint Twin Cities Advisory Committee was a more efficient use of stakeholders’ time and talents to develop recommendations for each city’s inclusion plan. In pursuing a joint engagement strategy, the leadership team held one on one conversations with representatives and leaders from community, community-based organizations, academic institutions, business community, legal service providers, refugee resettlement organizations and governmental offices at the municipal, county, and state level (including libraries). These individual conversations and meetings led to the creation of the Twin Cities Gateways for Growth Advisory Committee.  The Twin Cities Gateways for Growth Advisory Committee meet monthly from August to November of 2021and developed the recommendations that reflected of the unique situations in each city.  However, the Advisory Committee concluded that the Twin Cities immigrant and refugee communities are not bound by jurisdictional lines and developed recommendations that are regional in nature and not city specific.  Those recommendations as well as a summary of the engagement process conducted by the Minneapolis and Saint Paul G4G Initiatives were published on March 31, 2022 and are contained in the  Joint Twin Cities Inclusion plan entitled The Journey to Belonging in the Twin Cities Report.

The next phase of the G4G Initiative will require each City to review the recommendation contained in “The Journey to Belonging in the Twin Cities Report” and identify implantation priorities reflective of each city’s current situation and resources.  In addition to city specific strategic planning, successful implementation will depend upon regular participation of a wide range of voices, from city residents to policy makers, business leaders and nonprofits, community-based organizations, academia, members of faith-based communities, immigration legal service providers, philanthropic community as well as other interested community members.  Also paramount to successful implementation of these recommendations is the recognition that this inclusion plan is a living document that represents the first phase of a multiyear initiative to rally community members to take an ownership interest over the plan, develop metrics to track progress, set city specific priorities, and identify resources to support implementation of the goals and strategies identified in this document.

For more information, please visit: New Americans in Saint Paul and East Metro Area, MN - New American Economy Research Fund and New Americans in Minneapolis - New American Economy Research Fund

Who is eligible to become a US Citizen?

Citizenship Day event: On Friday, September 17, the City of Saint Paul’s Immigrant and Refugee Program and the City of Minneapolis Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs hosted an online event focused on how to become a U.S. citizen through the naturalization process.

Watch the online event on the City’s Facebook page

Need Assistance with a Naturalization Case or an Immigration Case?

Here are some Legal Resources to learn more about your options for assistance:

ACLU Minnesota
The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota continues to protect the civil liberties of all Minnesotans through litigation, public education, and lobbying.  

The Advocates for Human Rights
The organization is dedicated to the promotion and protection of internationally-recognized human rights. The Advocates documents human rights abuses, advocates on behalf of individual victims, educates on human rights issues, and provides training and technical assistance to address and prevent human rights violations. 

Arrive Ministries
Is an organization dedicated to welcoming serving and walking alongside refugees and immigrants regardless of their country of origin, religious belief, gender, marital status, physical ability, or other unique characteristics.  Arrive Ministries is a subsidiary ministry of Transform Minnesota and an affiliate partner of World Relief an international humanitarian organization. Areas of legal assistance include helping refugees, asylees and other immigrants with green cards, family-based visas, TPS, diversity visas, employment authorization, replacement and travel documents, AOR’s, and citizenship.

Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota
A nonprofit providing immigration legal assistance and policy advocacy for low-income immigrants and refugees in Minnesota. 

International Institute of Minnesota
The Institute delivers services and resources to assist New Americans in the transition to a new life leading to economic self-sufficiency. From language learning and job training to citizenship classes and the celebration of cultural traditions, the Institute offers New Americans a pathway for a strong start to a new life in our community – something we all benefit from.  

Areas of legal assistance include helping refugees, asylees and other immigrants with AOR’s, citizenship, lawful permanent residency, replacement of documents, and other immigration related issues. Central American Minor family reunification.

Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota (LSS)
LSS is committed to providing all people with the opportunity to live and work in a community with full and abundant lives. LSS offers Immigration Legal Services for a nominal fee to help refugees, asylees, and other immigrants living in the Twin Cities and St. Cloud complete immigration documents — including Permanents Resident, Naturalization, Employment Authorization, and family visa applications. Fee consultation and screening services are available at the Minneapolis office every Tuesday. For more information, call 612.879.5258 or visit https://www.lssmn.org/services/refugees/services/immigration.

Minnesota Council of Churches - Refugee Services
A immigration program welcoming persecuted people from around the world. Provides specialized services for refugees and asylees to assist them on the path to self-sufficiency and support them as they work towards achieving their dreams. To learn more, call 612.230.3224 or visit http://mnchurches.webbrohd.com/what-we-do/refugee-services/immigration-legal-services.

Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services :: Immigration (smrls.org)
Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS) assists permanent residents to apply for Naturalization.  SMRLS also assists refugees, asylee and U visa holders to apply for permanent residence (green card), and immigrant victims of domestic violence and violent crimes apply for immigration status.

Volunteer Lawyers Network (VLN)
Areas of assistance include certain adjustment of status applications, EAD renewals and Naturalization cases.  Areas of legal assistance that are immigration related include:

  • Advice; most matters;
  • Brief service: select immigration matters;
  • Pro Se service: family-based, DACA, TPS, asylum;
  • Full Representation for DACA, family-based, Adjustment of Status, U-Visa, citizenship, & other. 

VLN also provides services for other civil law matters including assistance with:

  • Advice and brief service by phone or virtually.
  • Full representation.

The VLN walk-in legal clinics are currently suspended due to COVID. Contact 612-752-6655 or apply for services online

Online tool from the American Immigration Lawyers Association  
AILA is a professional legal association of private lawyers. AILA and ailalawyer.com offer no legal advice, recommendations, mediation or counseling under any circumstance. This online tool may assist with identifying a private immigration attorney near you.

Do you need help Learning English or with the Naturalization Test?

Find English Language and Citizenship classes:

Literacy Minnesota
Website resource for finding classes to learn English and study for the Citizenship test.

A linguistically and culturally relevant resource and service nonprofit organization by Latinos for Latinos. https://clues.org/

International Institute of Minnesota
The Institute delivers services and resources to assist New Americans in the transition to a new life leading to economic self-sufficiency. From language learning and job training to citizenship classes and the celebration of cultural traditions, the Institute offers New Americans a pathway for a strong start to a new life in our community – something we all benefit from.  

Immigration Fraud Awareness Program

Additional Resources

Casa de Esperanza
Casa De Esperanza works to eliminate violence against women and children in the Latino community and the community at large. Offers family and court advocacy, bilingual 24-hour crisis response and shelter.  

Coalition of Asian American Leaders
A nonprofit organization focused on harnessing the collective power of Asian Minnesotan leaders to improve the lives of the community. CAAL works to uplift and support leaders, advance the shared priority issues of education and economics, weave relationships, and build solidarity across IPOC communities.  

Fighting to end detention and deportation in Southeast Asian Communities – ReleaseMN8’s mission is to provide direct support to Southeast Asian families impacted by detention and deportation through community organizing and leadership development to bring about social and political change.

Last Edited: April 7, 2022