Bevill, Townsend earn certification from BIA


Special to the Advocate
The Hispanic/Latino Ministries of he Seashore District of the Mississippi Conference has been recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals as a nonprofit immigration legal service agency.

The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) is the highest administrative body for interpreting and applying immigration laws. The board has been given nationwide jurisdiction to hear appeals from decisions made by immigration judges and by district directors of the Department of Homeland Security. 

In addition, the board is responsible for the recognition of organizations and accreditation of representatives requesting permission to practice before Homeland Security, immigration courts and the board.

Recognition can be granted to a nonprofit charitable, religious, or social services agency that has “knowledge, information and experience” with immigration law and procedure and charge only “nominal” fees.

Once an agency is recognized, it may apply for individual staff members to be accredited. The Rev. Sally Bevill and Mary Townsend have been granted partial accreditation, giving them authority to practice before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. This includes helping clients fill out the required applications and other forms for, representing clients at USCIS interviews (e.g., adjustment of status, naturalization and asylum interviews); speaking to USCIS officers on a client’s behalf without the client being present; signing applications as the client’s representative; and writing letters and motions to USCIS. Accreditation allows non-profit organizations to offer quality, professional immigration services to the public at a more affordable rate than what is usually charged by private immigration attorneys.

Only three agencies are recognized in Mississippi. This is the first United Methodist ministry to ever receive BIA recognition in Mississippi.

Bevill and Townsend are now the only two accredited representatives for Mississippi. Mary Townsend is an UMCOR long-term recovery case manager and assists with Hispanic/Latino outreach. Bevill is an elder serving on the Gulf Coast as the coordinator of Hispanic/Latino ministries for the Seashore District and a new church start planter for the new Hispanic/Latino community in Biloxi.

Contact Bevill or Townsend at 1084 Judge Sekul, Biloxi or call 228-436-3986.