How to Apply

Online Application Form

Session dates:
July 10 – August 20, 2017

Registration deadline:
June 28, 2017

Tuition: $770

This fee covers administrative costs for the course and issuance of a Certificate of Completion upon the successful completion of the course. The summer 2017 session includes new content, reflecting the latest developments in U.S. immigration law.

Learn More

Curious about Washington College of Law's Online Certificate in Introduction to U.S. Immigration Law? Read a transcript from a recent live chat with Jayesh Rathod, Professor of Law at American University Washington College of Law, and founding Director of the law school’s Immigrant Justice Clinic.

Frequently Asked Questions

For answers to Frequently Asked Questions, click here

Introduction to U.S. Immigration Law

American University Washington College of Law offers an unparalleled opportunity to pursue an Online Certificate in Introduction to U.S. Immigration Law. This online program is designed to provide the international community with an understanding of the structure and operations of the U.S. immigration system, including family- and employment-based visas, humanitarian protections, the deportation process, and more. The course is directed by Professor Jayesh Rathod, an immigration law expert and the Director of the Immigrant Justice Clinic at American University.

A Unique and Timely Online Certificate Program

In today's world, U.S. immigration law is a critically important field. This online course is designed to prepare participants with the foundational knowledge and skills to understand this complex and ever-changing field. With a focus on both theory and practice, the curriculum explores a range of topics and key provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the main immigration law statute in the U.S. Topics to be covered include: key agencies that regulate immigration; pathways for permanent residence (green cards); temporary visas; asylum and other humanitarian relief; immigration enforcement and border control; deportation process and relief from deportation; and naturalization and citizenship. The course is fully up-to-date and addresses the Executive Orders and other policies implemented by the new administration.

Online Modules & Scheduled Virtual Classes

This course will provide students the opportunity to access and read the course materials at their own pace, and will also include scheduled "class time" sessions. The modules are designed to give students a basic understanding of the topic and provide small quizzes and hypothetical problems so students can check their understanding. During the course, the professor will teach several live classes online, where students will engage more closely with the material and get their questions answered.

Please see our sample syllabus to get a better idea of the course contents.

Who Should Apply?

This graduate certificate program is designed for attorneys, law students, legal professionals, and others eager to acquire working knowledge of the legal principles and practical implications of U.S. Immigration Law. Among the participants in the winter 2017 session were the following:

  • Attorneys seeking to begin a transition into immigration law practice
  • Attorneys hoping to do immigration-related pro bono work
  • Lawyers who practice in the following areas, which touch upon immigration: criminal defense, criminal prosecution, family law, labor law, and public benefits
  • Law students
  • Paralegals and human resources professionals
  • Overseas lawyers and legal professionals
  • Other professionals seeking to educate themselves about this timely and important topic

Students will learn:

  • Necessary background knowledge to understand the key provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and the different entities that have jurisdiction over immigration matters
  • Basic pathways and procedures for entering the U.S. on permanent or temporary visas
  • Categories of individuals who are excluded from entry, and vulnerable to deportation
  • Treatment under U.S. law of refugees, asylum-seekers, and others seeking humanitarian protection
  • Policies and procedures relating to immigration enforcement and border control
  • Laws and regulations relating to becoming a U.S. citizen
  • Content and current status of immigration-related Executive Orders issued under the new administration

Feedback from Winter 2017 Session:

Students from the 2017 session had the following to say about the course:

  • "Professor Rathod did an outstandingly effective job covering the key topics of a complex and multi-faceted area of the law in such a short time. The assigned and optional readings, as well as videos and lectures that accompanied each module were not only very well thought-out and presented, but helped with my completing all the module-specific written exercises. I appreciated all the feedback on my work. I also enjoyed seeing the diversity of responses to discussion questions from classmates with interesting academic and professional backgrounds. I particularly appreciated Prof. Rathod's timely responses to relevant current event questions on the Q & A Forum. Overall a highly informative and thoroughly informative course that's inspiring me to further explore immigration law!"

  • "Professor Rathod is obviously incredibly knowledgeable on the subject but is also generous with his time, knowledge and resources, engaging, open to any and all questions, and very responsive. The content was great too."

  • "The professor was great, and really made this incredible complex area of law digestible. The lectures were absolutely the highlight of the course."

  • "Professor Rathod was phenomenal. His recorded and live lectures were well organized and covered all relevant material, including up to the minute analysis of current happenings in immigration law. The written exercises were well thought out as well, requiring me to thoroughly review and understand the material in order to finish the assignment. His comments to my written work, discussion posts, and questions were timely and thoughtful. Professor Rathod did an outstanding job teaching this course!!"

  • "Everything was perfect."

  • "The content modules were fantastic. The categorizations of the material into modules made sense. The lectures were clear; the readings and (non-lecture) videos were on-point and helpful without being too lengthy, and the written questions really helped solidify the concepts."

  • "I really enjoyed the content and live lectures in the class. I also really enjoyed that this class discussed what was going on nationally as well since it is so relevant to what we were learning. Please have a sequel to this course!!"

What Makes this Program Different?

This program provides participants with the flexibility to earn a certificate in Introduction to U.S. Immigration Law from a world-renowned educational institution in Washington, D.C. while interacting with the legal community from around the world. Students in the winter 2017 session hailed from twelve different states, plus District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and five other countries.

Length of the Program

The program is designed to be completed in approximately 6 weeks and will begin in July 2017.

Course Offerings

The Program consists of one course.

The course Introduction to U.S. Immigration Law focuses on the theoretical and practical knowledge needed to understand key aspects of the U.S. immigration system. The course will examine the pathways to travel to the U.S. on temporary visas and to obtain lawful permanent residence (green card). In particular, the course will explore different visas that exist, the differences between them, and the ways in which an individual can be denied entry or lose legal status and, consequently, be removed from the United States.

The course also explores the different types of legal relief available, such as asylum, withholding of removal, and adjustment of status. The course will also provide an overview of the laws relating to naturalization and citizenship. Throughout the course, we will explore how the different courts and agencies, both in the judicial and the executive branch, apply and interpret immigration law.


The Introduction to U.S. Immigration Law online certificate program uses the most advanced web-based technology available.

Our state-of-the-art technology features:

  • An extraordinary learning environment that blends asynchronous and synchronous tools.
  • Self-paced coursework produced by AUWCL faculty and world-class practitioners.
  • AUWCL faculty, available one-on-one through virtual technologies.
  • A collaborative online community that uses familiar social networking, group, and organizational tools

CLE Accreditation

CLE Accreditation will be applied for upon request. Please be sure to check with your state(s) to ensure that Distance Learning is accredited as this varies greatly state by state. Questions on CLE accreditation should be addressed to Jennifer Dabson, Director, Office of Special Events and Continuing Legal Education at

Program Faculty

Jayesh Rathod

Jayesh Rathod is a Professor of Law at American University Washington College of Law, and founding Director of the law school’s Immigrant Justice Clinic. His areas of expertise and scholarly interests include immigration law, labor and employment law, and clinical legal education. Prior to joining the faculty, he was a Staff Attorney at CASA of Maryland, representing low-wage immigrant workers on employment law and immigration matters, and participating in worker education, organizing, and advocacy efforts. He also practiced in the litigation section at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering LLP, and was law clerk to the late Honorable Louis F. Oberdorfer, of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. He is a graduate of Columbia Law School and Harvard College.

Over the course of his career, Professor Rathod has worked on cutting-edge cases and projects relating to immigration detention, removal defense (including criminal-immigration intersections), humanitarian relief, immigrant workers’ rights, language access, and more. He has been recognized for his innovative teaching, including the use of technology and the promotion of bilingual education within U.S. law schools. His scholarship, covering a range of topics relating to immigration law, labor & employment law, and legal pedagogy, has been featured in a variety of prominent journals. Professor Rathod has been invited to speak on these topics at institutions across the United States, and has served as a commentator in local and national media (including CNN, NBC News, and National Public Radio) on immigration and workplace law topics.

In fall 2016, Professor Rathod was a Fulbright Scholar at two universities in Brazil, where he taught courses on U.S. immigration law and comparative migration policy, and conducted research relating to the Brazilian immigration system. He is fluent in Spanish and proficient in Portuguese.

Contact Information

David Contreras
Senior Administrative Assistant