Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA)
This office advises the City on immigration issues, educates the community and administers City funding to nonprofit immigration law offices.
The City of Minneapolis has created a resource page to assist community struggling with issues relating to COVID-19, the death of George Floyd, civil unrest and limited access to critical needs.
The Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs is operating remotely at this time. To share resources that would benefit immigrant and refugee communities or to obtain information from OIRA, please contact Michelle Rivero at [email protected] or 612-394-6018.
Latest edition of the OIRA Immigration Bulletin
- July 6, 2020
Proclamation preventing employment based nonimmigrants from entering US for remainder of 2020
President Trump, on June 22, issued a Proclamation preventing certain nonimmigrant visa applicants from entering the United States with a justification of protecting the United States labor market. This suspension will last until at least December 2020, and impacts individuals seeking entry in the following employment based nonimmigrant categories if the person is outside the US and has not already been issued a visa: H-1B, H-2B, L-1, certain J-1. The proclamation also extends an earlier Proclamation suspending certain immigrant visa applicants from entering the US. According to the proclamation, exemptions may be granted at the sole discretion of the consular officer if the applicant's work is critical to the U.S. in a number of ways such as if it involves: the provision of medical care to people who have COVID-19 and are hospitalized, the provision of medical research to help the US combat COVID-19, or work necessary for the economic recovery of the United States. There is an additional troubling provision within the proclamation that may impact the ability of people in the US who are inadmissible or deportable, who have a final deportation order, or who have been arrested, charged or convicted for a criminal matter from obtaining work authorization. If you are concerned that this proclamation may impact you please contact a competent immigration attorney. A brief overview of the decision can be found here.
Supreme Court decides that the way DACA was rescinded violated the law
On June 18, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision saying that the way in which the Department of Homeland Security ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program violated the Administrative Procedures Act. This decision paves the way for new DACA applications to be accepted, however the DACA program is still at risk, as the Supreme Court did say that the federal government has the power to end the program, although the way the program was ended was unlawful. More information about the DACA decision can be found here. A more permanent solution beneficial to DACA beneficiaries, or "Dreamers" rests with the US Congress and many are advocating for the US Senate to take up H.R.6, the American Dream and Promise Act, to create a pathway for citizenship for Dreamers. For more information on this decision and how it impacts Dreamers, contact trusted immigration legal service providers such as Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, Volunteer Lawyers Network and Mid Minnesota Legal Aid.
Information and resources for communities impacted by COVID-19
- COVID-19 basic information videos released on Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) in English, Espanol, Hmoob, and Soomaali.
- What to do if you are sick with COVID-19? Videos from Hennepin County Public Health Department in English, Hmong, Somali and Spanish.
- Know Your Rights Facebook Live event with Advocates for Human Rights on April 3 at 7PM. (in Spanish).
- Videos about Minnesota's Stay at Home Order in English, Hmong, Somali, Spanish and additional languages.
- "Immigration and Covid-19" Facebook Live event with Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota on Tuesday March 31 in English and Spanish.
- March 29 KFAI radio program "La Voz Del Pueblo" with Minneapolis Chief of Police Medeira Arradondo explaining enforcement of the Governor's Stay at Home order in Spanish.
- City of Minneapolis Cultural Radio Programming in English, Espanol, Hmoob and Soomaali.
Financial help and consumer protection
- CLUES Coronavirus Resource Center
- Fraud and price gouging complaints can be filed with the Minnesota Attorney General's Office.
COVID-19 and employment/work issues
- Workers rights information from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry in English, Hmong, Somali, Spanish
- List of contacts on various work related issues including unemployment, wage and hour, safety and health and more
- Employer and Employee Frequently Asked Questions
- National Immigration Law Center Resource entitled "Immigrant Workers Rights and COVID-19"
- The City of Minneapolis has a wage theft ordinance to protect workers. To learn how to report a violation of Minneapolis labor standards, dial 311 or visit the violation report page
- Small Business Resources including Frequently Asked Questions
COVID-19 and public charge
- Public Charge brochures from the Minnesota Department of Human Services in English, Hmong, Karen, Somali, Spanish
- Applying for or receiving unemployment benefits does not count for public charge.
- There are also no negative public charge impacts for getting testing or preventive medical help if you have COVID-19 symptoms.
- Learn more about public charge.
Culturally Specific Food Assistance
Some community members have reported difficulty in accessing culturally appropriate food options. Some resources below for food assistance:
- Comprehensive list of food shelves in the State of Minnesota
- Isuroon, 612-517-8095
- Pillsbury United Communities -- locations at Waite House and Bryan Coyle
COVID-19 and international travel
The federal administration has issued a travel ban which took effect at midnight Friday March 13. The ban affects individuals traveling to the U.S. from Europe. A factsheet on the ban from the Office of Customs and Border Protection can be found here. The United Nations International Organization for Migration (IOM), on March 17, announced a suspension of all refugee resettlement.
Immigration Court hearings
The Executive Office for Immigration Review has cancelled non-detained court hearings. Some courts are scheduled to resume operations in July. People who have cases scheduled before the immigration court should call 1-800-898-7180 to learn about case rescheduling. The office's COVID-19 announcement and additional immigration court related updates can be found here. Case status information can be found by calling 1-800-898-7180 or visiting the office's webpage or Facebook page.
ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement)
The Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) sensitive location policy, prevents agents from conducting immigration enforcement operations in sensitive locations, including health care facilities, except in emergency circumstances. ICE's webpage explains this policy in light of COVID-19. More general information on the policy can be found here. On March 18, ICE issued a public notice indicating that it will suspend immigration enforcement actions against people who are not a public safety risk or subject to mandatory detention on criminal grounds. ICE is also suspending in person check-ins for people who have to report because they are on Order of Supervision. If this situation applies to you, the local ICE office has provided the following contact number to check in: 612-843-8601. Calls are accepted between 8AM-2PM Monday-Friday.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reopened offices on June 4. Please visit the USCIS webpage for updates regarding COVID-19 related office procedures. It may also be helpful to refer to USCIS's policies in cases where individuals are impacted by natural disaster or special situations. USCIS has also indicated that it is extending time frames to respond to Notices of Intent to Deny, Requests for Evidence, and Notices of Intent to Terminate for notices issued between March 1 and May 1. More information here.
Applying for US citizenship
Applying for naturalization, or US citizenship, is an important step for US permanent residents. US citizens have legal rights, including the right to vote, to obtain a US passport, and to sponsor a relative for immigration benefits. There are many legal service organizations in the Twin Cities area that provide information and legal representation for those who are interested in learning more about how to apply for US citizenship.
Information on how to qualify for and obtain assistance in applying for US citizenship:
- International Institute of Minnesota
- Mid Minnesota Legal Aid
- Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota
- Hennepin County Office of Multicultural Services
- Volunteer Lawyers Network
The goal of the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA) is to ensure that Minneapolis is a safe and welcoming place for all. Our office is in the Department of Neighborhood & Community Relations, and supports the City's One Minneapolis goal to “eliminate disparities so that all Minneapolis residents can participate and prosper."
Our principal responsibilities are to:
- Inform City leaders about federal immigration developments and advise on policy initiatives to support affected residents.
- Equip community members with information regarding immigration developments, positioning them to protect and defend their rights.
- Educate residents about existing resources to address immigration issues and other needs, whether through local government or through legal, social service or other nonprofit organizations.
The Office takes a proactive, coordinated, enterprise-wide approach to accomplish the following:
- Enhance the civic and social integration of immigrant and refugee communities.
- Promote economic development and ensure access to resources and programs within immigrant and refugee communities across Minneapolis.
- Collaborate with federal, state and local governing bodies, nonprofit organizations and community stakeholders on immigrant and refugee issues, programs and policies.
- Advocate for continued immigration reforms at all levels of government to eliminate inequities.
- Provide relevant, accurate information and education—including community resources—to residents regarding significant issues that impact immigrants and refugees.
- Ensure that Minneapolis remains a welcoming city for immigrants, refugees and existing residents.
Responsibilities of the Office include:
- Educate policy-makers, City departments and the public on the needs of immigrant and refugee communities, and represent the City in the public discourse around immigration with constructive messages.
- Analyze the impact of City programs and policies on immigrant and refugee communities, and recommend improvements.
- Lead a multi-departmental team to create programs and activities that strengthen the City’s immigrant and refugee communities.
- Manage referrals to community organizations that serve immigrants and refugees, providing information and contacts.
- Support the establishment of an Immigrant and Refugee Commission upon approval of City Council.
- Build strategic, meaningful relationships with stakeholders and the larger community to advocate on behalf of immigrant and refugee families.
- Coordinate work with the department’s community specialists concerning immigrant and refugee initiatives.
- Support the City’s membership and activities with local, regional, national and international networks, collaborations and organizations.
Meet Director Michelle Rivero
Michelle Rivero is the Director of the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, housed within the Neighborhood and Community Relations Department. Before starting to work for the City, Michelle was an immigration attorney for 18 years, and represented people in immigration court, USCIS proceedings and appellate immigration proceedings, including applicants for asylum, cancellation of removal, U visa, VAWA, DACA, naturalization, and family based immigration.
Community engagement and research
To build awareness and inform the work of our office, the Neighborhood and Community Relations Department and OIRA interviewed stakeholders and convened community round tables. Information from this process defines OIRA's scope of work. From these conversations, these issues emerged as focus areas:
- Economic advancement
- Promotion of values
- Cultural work and healing
Last updated Jul 9, 2020