Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs
COVID-19 Information and Community Support, including Minneapolis Gap Fund details
The City of Minneapolis has created Gap Fund for Housing and Small Business support in response to the economic challenges residents are experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 . Information about this fund is available in multiple languages. Individuals may qualify for this support regardless of immigration status.
The City of Minneapolis has created a COVID-19 resource page, which is frequently updated with information and links to community support resources. If there are resources that you want to share that would benefit immigrant and refugee communities at this time, please contact Michelle Rivero at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-394-6018.
Mayor Jacob Frey and Chief Medeira Arradondo speak about discrimination within the Asian American community
Viruses don't discriminate, and neither should we.
If you feel that you have been discriminated against in the City of Minneapolis, please contact the Civil Rights Department to file a complaint.
If you need immediate help or are in immediate danger, call 911.
Information and resources for communities impacted by COVID-19
- 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 and additional guests in Spanish.
- MN Immigrant Family Fund: accepting financial donations to support communities who do not qualify for state or federal financial support.
- Fraud and price gouging complaints can be filed with the Minnesota Attorney General's Office.
COVID-19 and public charge
- 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.
COVID-19 and international travel
The federal administration has issued a new 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.
The Executive Office for Immigration Review has cancelled non-detained court hearings until April 10, 2020. 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.
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 also issued a public notice indicating that it will delay 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) has suspended all in person interviews through April 1. The webpage with this information is available here and people should check frequently for updates, including information on USCIS office closures. 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. Michelle has been an immigration attorney for the last 18 years. Her work has included representing clients in immigration court proceedings (detained and nondetained), asylum applicants, crime victims seeking U visas, VAWA applicants (victims of domestic violence), Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiaries, applicants for US citizenship, as well as individuals petitioning for family members to come to or remain in the United States.
Community Engagement and Research
To build awareness and inform the work of our office, we have begun a community engagement process—interviewing stakeholders and convening community round tables. Information from this process defines our scope of work. We asked you what we should focus on and these themes emerged:
- Economic advancement
- Promotion of values
- Cultural work and healing
Last updated Apr 3, 2020