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 and provides 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 a collaboration with Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union to provide 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.  

The New American Loan Program is part of the City’s Citizen Encouragement Project, a major initiative of the 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’s 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 challenges in paying for the application filing fees, which the New American Loan Program helps support.  

Gateways for Growth

The Gateways for Growth Challenge is a competitive opportunity for localities to receive research support and/or technical assistance from New American Economy and Welcoming America to improve immigrant inclusion in their communities. The City of Saint Paul and Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce were awarded a grant in November 2020, and have worked over the course of the past 10 months to develop a report released today on New Americans in Saint Paul.  

While making up approximately 19.9 percent of the city’s population, the report underscores the critical role immigrants in Saint Paul and the East Metro Area play in population growth, business creation, and reviving the manufacturing sector. Findings from the report include: 

  • Immigration is driving population growth in Saint Paul and the East Metro Area. Immigrants accounted for over 62 percent of the population growth in the City of Saint Paul and 40 percent of the population growth in the East Metro Area between 2015 and 2019. As of 2019, 11.9 percent of the East Metro Area and over 19 percent of Saint Paul’s population were immigrants.  
  • Immigrants’ spending power has helped revitalize local businesses in the city and region. In 2019, immigrants held $966.2 million in disposable income, or 14.7 percent of Saint Paul’s total spending power. Similarly, immigrants across the East Metro Area held over $3.4 billion of spending power in 2019 alone. Robust consumer spending by immigrants supports small businesses and keeps local economic corridors vibrant.  
  • Immigrant households support federal social programs. Immigrants in Saint Paul contributed $145.7 million to Social Security and $36.4 million to Medicare in 2019.  
  • Immigrants in Saint Paul play a key role in supporting and preserving local manufacturing jobs. As of 2019, immigrants made up over 35 percent of manufacturing workers in the city. Because of the role immigrants play in the workforce in helping companies keep jobs on U.S. soil, immigrants in the region helped create or preserve approximately 2,800 jobs that would have otherwise vanished or moved elsewhere. 
  • Immigrants play a significant role in the city as entrepreneurs. Immigrants represented 33.2 percent of the entrepreneurs in the city of Saint Paul in 2019. Over 11 percent of immigrant individuals worked for their own businesses, generating $43.8 million in business income.  

This report will be leveraged in the City’s and Chamber’s ongoing efforts to draft a multi-sector immigrant inclusion strategy. The City of Saint Paul and the Saint Paul Area Chamber are currently hosting a series of focus groups and surveys to garner community feedback on how to make our community more welcoming and supportive for immigrants and marginalized communities. Read the full research brief here.  

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.

VLN’s walk-in legal clinic 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: September 17, 2021