Neighborhood & Community Relations

Crown Roller Mill, Suite 425
105 Fifth Avenue South 
Minneapolis, MN 55401
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Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs

Support Immigrants & Refugees

Many community members have reached out to us asking how they can volunteer to provide assistance and support to immigrant and refugees. If you are interested in being connected to resources where your volunteer energy can be put to greatest use please contact OIRA at [email protected].

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."

Learn how we engage the many cultural communities of Minneapolis.

Immigration update: Asylum news

A person who has been persecuted or has a well founded fear of persecution on the basis of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group may qualify for asylum in the United States. Our federal government has issued a rule which will prevent applicants who 1) entered the US after July 16, 2019, 2) transited through a third country before entering the US and 3) did not apply for asylum in that third country before entering the US from qualifying for asylum. There are exceptions to this rule, and the rule is being challenged in federal court.  It is important to know that other forms of relief from deportation are still available to victims of persecution, including relief under the Convention Against Torture.  More information about the impact of this rule can be found here.   

Also in asylum news, on September 9, the federal government  issued a proposed rule that would eliminate the federal regulation requiring work authorization documents for asylum applicants to be processed within 30 days.  More information about the proposed rule here.  There is a 60 day notice and comment period which allows anyone to express their opinion about the rule, so long as this is done by the end of the comment period, which is November 8, 2019. 

Public Charge Update

On Wednesday, August 14, the federal government issued a immigration agency rule which could impact the ability of some people to qualify for permanent resident, or "green card," status. This rule is commonly known as the "public charge" rule, and it expands the criteria and type of benefits that the government can point to in deciding whether to grant or deny green card applications for certain applicants. This rule is anticipated to take effect 60 days after publication. Several states, including the State of Minnesota, have joined a lawsuit in federal court in Washington state to prevent this rule from taking effect. 

Community members should know that the public charge test does NOT apply to applicants for US citizenship, people who hold asylum or refugee status, Special Immigrant Juveniles, TPS, VAWA, U or T visas, or green cards based upon these classifications. You can get free legal information advice on public benefits and public charge, either by phone or through a presentation in your community, by contacting Mid Minnesota Legal Aid at 1-800-292-4150. Additional information about the subject of public charge can be found on the webpage for Protecting Immigrant Families and  Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota.

Volunteer Lawyers Network has put out a helpful flyer with additional details on public charge. This document is available in English and Spanish

Immigration update: Expedited Removal

On July 23, the federal government issued a notice expanding expedited removal to individuals who have been in the United States without authorization for less than 2 years. Expedited removal is a way for immigration officials to quickly deport people from the US without allowing them to see an immigration judge or attorney, although a person who expresses a fear of returning to their home country must be referred for an interview before an asylum officer.  An informational sheet on expedited removal prepared by Pennsylvania State University Center for Immigrant Rights can be found here.  For more information regarding the expedited removal process, please contact OIRA at [email protected].

Immigration Update: July 12, 2019

News outlets report that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may start enforcement operations in ten U.S. cities starting this Sunday. While  Minneapolis was not listed by ICE as one of these ten cities, we know that reports like these cause fear. Minneapolis is a Welcoming City and we remain vigilant.  OIRA is working closely with our immigration legal service partners to connect people to existing legal clinics, know your rights presentations, and community organizations that offer protection, advice and support when our community members need it most

Mayor Jacob Frey, City Council President Lisa Bender and Minneapolis Police Chief Medeira Arradondo have made their position on threatened immigration enforcement activity clear.  A portion of their statement is excerpted below:

"The City of Minneapolis condemns any actions that would put our residents and families at risk or actions that instill fear in our community. The City of Minneapolis is a welcoming city that believes all people, including immigrants, are valuable contributors to society, vital to the success of our communities and to our shared future.

Minneapolis Police have not and will not cooperate with, nor participate in, any such ICE activity. Minneapolis officials are prohibited from taking any action to detect or apprehend people based solely on their immigration status. Our entire city is proud to stand in solidarity with our immigrant brothers, sisters and neighbors. By replacing fear with knowledge, the City of Minneapolis works to make our communities safer. The City partners with legal service organizations to ensure that residents have access to competent legal information and advice, regardless of ability to pay."

Immigration Related information and Resources 

Please Contact OIRA for additional resources

  Important Immigration News

Sign up here for email updates from the Office of Immigrant & Refugee Affairs

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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:

Our Purpose

Our principal responsibilities are to:


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

Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs Director Michelle Rivero

Michelle Rivero
612-673-6103 (office) 612-357-1875 (cell)  [email protected]

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.

More information about OIRA Director Michelle Rivero in MinnPost.

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:



Last updated Sep 16, 2019



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