15 Best Immigration Law Schools in 2024

November 4, 2023

best immigration law schools

Becoming a lawyer is no small feat. Between completing the LSAT and passing the bar exam, there is a lot of hard work involved. Additionally, choosing the right law school for you can also be a challenge. Especially if you want to study a particular field of law, then you should greatly consider all the available options. If you want to study immigration law in particular, then you will want to know the best immigration law schools. In this article, we will highlight 15 of the best law schools for immigration law. This information will include the location of the school and a brief description of the program and its opportunities. But first, let’s discuss the basic components of this practice.

What is Immigration Law?

Immigration law has several key principles. Immigration lawyers work to reunite families, admit immigrants with valuable skills to the U.S. economy, promote diversity, and protect refugees.

Generally, immigrants entering the country will apply for a visa under one of the following categories:

  • Immediate Relative visas
  • Family Preference visas
  • Diversity visas
  • Employment-based visas

Essentially, immigration lawyers can work with individual and business clients. They help distribute accurate and necessary information about visas, green cards, adjustment of status, and other related issues.

Also, immigration law encompasses many different fields of law. These fields include human rights, family law, and education.  The best law schools for immigration law work with students to provide an overview of each of these components.

Additionally, immigration lawyers can serve as advocates and interpreters for their clients. Because of their job responsibilities, immigration lawyers must be familiar with cross-cultural communication. They must also be sensitive to the big life changes their clients undergo and the additional stresses this change can bring.

If studying immigration law sounds like the right fit for you, then please continue on to view our listing for the best immigration law schools.

Best Law Schools for Immigration Law

1) Harvard Law School

  • Cambridge, Massachusetts

To enter into their law program, prospective candidates must demonstrate an exceptional undergraduate academic record. However, the admissions board will also consider an applicant’s personal qualities, such as their leadership, ambition, and empathy. Harvard is well-known as one of the best immigration law schools.

Students in the immigrant law program will have the opportunity to complete several clinics, such as the Immigration and Refugee Advocacy Clinic. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience through the Harvard Law School Immigration Project. Here, students will gain practical immigration law experience through a student practice organization.

2) Yale Law School

  • New Haven, Connecticut

Interestingly, Yale does not utilize GPA or standardized test scores as a “cutoff” when reviewing applications for their law school. Therefore, special attention is paid to extracurriculars, letters of recommendation, and honors and awards. So, make no mistake, this is still a competitive program. This means Yale is considered one of the best immigration law schools.

At this institution, students can participate in the Legal Assistance: Immigrant Rights Clinic. Students will have the opportunity to represent immigrants and their organizations in court or before administrative agencies.  Additionally, students can partake in the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic. The clinic includes cases at all stages of legal proceedings.

3) Stanford Law School

  • Stanford, California

To apply to Stanford Law School, candidates must submit a resume and a personal statement detailing how their character and life experience will contribute to the school. Along with test scores, such as the LSAT or GRE, letters of recommendation are required. In addition, there are several optional short essays to complete. This institution is ranked highly as one of the best immigration law schools.

Students studying immigration law will have the opportunity to work with the Law and Policy Lab. Under the guidance of faculty, students consult real-world clients. Additionally, students can join the Stanford Immigration & Human Rights Law Association. This association offers even more opportunities to help advance human rights on a global scale.

4) University of Maryland Francis King Carey Law School

  • Baltimore, Maryland

Applying to this institution requires, among additional supplements, either the LSAT or GRE, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. In their statement, candidates should detail their critical thinking and leadership skills. Additionally, candidates should be easily adaptable to new challenges.

Students at this university will have the option to join the Immigration Law and Policy Association. This group stimulates student interest and involvement in the legal and political issues surrounding immigration. Additionally, students can partake in hands-on legal experience with the Immigration Clinic.

5) University of Virginia School of Law

  • Charlottesville, Virginia

For students wanting to study immigration law here, applications will be reviewed with the following in mind. Trends in grades, any significant work experience or achievements, and campus and community contributions will be considered.

Students looking to gain practical law experience will partake in the Immigration Law Clinic. A yearlong program, students take both immigration law classes and also work with clients in a litigation setting.

6) Columbia Law School

  • New York, New York

Columbia takes a holistic approach to their application process. With a focus on how candidates contribute to their communities and inclusivity, Columbia looks “beyond” test scores and GPA. The admissions board seeks candidates who are curious, resourceful, and motivated. This university is also regarded as one of the best immigration law schools.

Students can participate in the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic to gain practical experience. Students have the option to continue through this clinic after one semester. Those who do can take on more varied and complex forms of casework.

7) UC Davis School of Law

  • Davis, California

Interestingly, there is no fee to apply to UC Davis. However, students who have been disqualified at another law school will not be eligible to attend UC Davis. The program is a three-year, full-time offering and is one of the best law schools for immigration law.

At the UC Davis Immigration Law Clinic, students have the opportunity to work with clients from all over the world. The clinic has a particular emphasis on representing detained immigrants before the court. Additionally, cases tend to focus on the unlawful and prolonged detention of criminal immigrant defendants.

8) Cornell Law School

  • Ithaca, New York

Cornell Law School has a more individualized focus to their classes, with a 5:1 student to professor ratio. To apply, each student application must include the LSAT, GRE, or GMAT, transcripts, and letters of recommendation.

First-year students have the opportunity to partake in the 1L Immigration Law and Advocacy Clinic. Students will conduct research, provide counsel, and write for real cases. After their first year, students have the opportunity to continue their work. Because of the opportunity for real-world experience, this institution is one of the best law schools for immigration law.

9) UCLA School of Law

  • Los Angeles, California

To apply, students must submit both a personal essay and a separate essay. In their writing, students must detail their relevant ability to succeed in law school and distinct interests in the practice.

For students interested in working with families, UCLA offers the Immigrant Family Legal Clinic. Students in this clinic will have the opportunity to work with six pilot public schools. Under faculty guidance, students provide direct representation. If this type of clinic interests you, then this might be one of the best immigration law schools for you. Additionally, students can choose to work for the Immigrants’ Rights Policy Clinic. In this opportunity, students can work with community activists, local officials, and administrators., making this one of the best law schools for immigration law.

10) Duke Law

  • Durham, North Carolina

Duke Law focuses on smaller class sizes, with classes usually about 30 students or fewer. The curriculum at this university includes both traditional coursework and clinics. There is an option for Early Decision applications.

Students at Duke will have the opportunity to partake in the Immigrant Rights Clinic. In this opportunity, students work to represent individuals facing deportation. Students partner with local, state, and national organizations to complete practical law experience.

11) City University at New York School of Law

  • New York, New York

At this institution, admissions is concerned with how varied student perspectives work to serve the prospective candidate. Additionally, 34% of students entering this law school in 2023 were first-generation college students.

Law students at this university can partake in the Immigrant & Non-Citizen Rights Clinic. In this clinic, there is an emphasis on fair and objective interpretations of the law. This clinic also focuses on the “multiplicity of facets to non-citizenship advocacy.” This institution is one of the best immigration law schools located on the east coast.

12) University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

This program is dedicated to equity and inclusion. The admissions committee is focused on the applicant’s entire academic history, including any advanced coursework. Additionally, admissions look for the development of the applicant’s personal statement and strength of their letters of recommendation.

Students at this institution can join The Penn Law Immigrants’ Rights Project (PLIRP). The project partners with immigration organizations in the city and beyond to assist clients with the legal immigration process. Students meet with clients, conduct research, and gather information for each unique case.

13) University of Washington School of Law

  • Seattle, Washington

Admissions at this institution look for intellectual curiosity and confidence, and academic excellence. Completion of the LSAT is required to apply. As well, “no single factor is dispositive for admission, including GPA and standardized test scores.”

Students at this institution can partake in the Immigration Clinic. Up to eight students at a time, under the assistance of a faculty member, students gain practical law experience. The clinic partners with local and national organizations to advocate for immigrant rights.

14) University of Chicago Law School

  • Chicago, Illinois

This institution utilizes a paperless admissions process. In terms of acceptance rate, the school received over 500 applications in the last admissions cycle. Last year, the school accepted 195 of those students.

Immigration law students at this institution can join the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic. To gain practice law experience, students build the necessary skills for successful representation. Additionally, students confront human vulnerability they will encounter in their field.

15) University of California – Berkeley Law

  • Berkeley, California

As part of the application process, students must register for the LSAT. Additionally, a personal statement, resume, transcripts, and letters of recommendation are required.

Students at this institution can join the Berkeley Immigration Law Clinic (BILC). In addition to classes, students also must commit to travel. Operations may take place in Oakland or San Francisco. It is recommended that students participate in at least two clinics each semester.

Best Immigration Law Schools – Additional Resources

We hope you enjoyed our article on the best immigration law schools in the United States. You may also want to check out other relevant blogs including: