© 2015 by Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia

Photo by Mary Szmolko


Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia is the Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar and Clinic Professor of Law at Penn State Law in University Park. Her research focuses on the role of prosecutorial discretion in immigration law and the intersections of race, national security and immigration. She has published more than thirty law review articles, book chapters and essays on immigration law. Her work has been published in Emory Law Journal; Texas Law Review; Washington and Lee Law Review, Columbia Journal of Race and Law; Notice & Comment, Yale Journal on Regulation; Harvard Latino Law Review; Connecticut Public Interest Law Journal; Georgetown Immigration Law Journal; and Howard Law Journal. Wadhia’s first book, Beyond Deportation: The Role of Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Cases, was published by New York University Press in 2015, and named an honorable mention for the Eric Hoffer Book Award. Her second book, Banned: Immigration Enforcement in the Time of Trump, will be released on September 10, 2019 by New York University Press. Her immigration textbook, Immigration and Nationality Law: Problems and Solutions, with co-authors Steve Yale-Loehr and Lenni Benson, will be published by Carolina Academic Press in 2019.

In 2018, Wadhia was named the inaugural Editor-In-Chief of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Law Journal, a partnership between AILA and Fastcase. In 2019, she served as the Enlund Scholar In Residence at DePaul University School of Law. 

Wadhia regularly authors opinion pieces on a range of immigration topics, and has published such pieces in the Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, The Hill, blog for the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS Blog), blog of the Harvard Law Review, American Constitution Society, American Immigration Council, Yale Journal on Regulation’s Notice & Comment, and Immigration Law Professors Blog. She has also served as an expert witness, lead author or co-counsel in connection with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the asylum ban, the travel ban, and prosecutorial discretion more generally.

At Penn State Law, Professor Wadhia teaches doctrinal courses in immigration and asylum and refugee law. She is also the founder/director of the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic (CIRC), where she supervises students in three areas: 1) community outreach; 2) legal support in individual immigration cases; and 3) policy work for institutional clients. CIRC has earned a national reputation for its high-quality work product and impact in the community. Since the presidential election of 2016, CIRC has reached hundreds of individuals and families and served as a clearinghouse for the community and nationally on changing immigration law and policy. CIRC has also been involved in groundbreaking work with the State College municipality. They have helped to develop a written policy for the State College Police Department on immigration, trained police officers on immigration, and drafted resolutions for the municipality on immigration enforcement and inclusion. In Fall 2019, CIRC spent several days at a family detention facility, preparing parents and children for interviews with asylum officers and acting as advocates during the actual interviews. 2018 marked the 10-year anniversary of CIRC. CIRC was honored with the Excellence in Legal Advocacy Award in 2017 by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and named legal organization of the year in 2019 by the Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center.

Wadhia has appeared on national television and radio stations, including MSNBC and C-SPAN and has been quoted or featured by international, national, and local publications, including New York Times, New York Times Magazine, The Hill, National Law Journal, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Roll Call, The Atlantic and Associated Press, among others. 

Wadhia has been a recipient of numerous awards. In 2019, she received the Arnold Addison Award from the Borough of State College, and the the Elmer Fried Award for Excellence in Teaching from the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Wadhia was also named the 2017 Honoree by the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild. She sits on the Board of Directors for the American Immigration Council.

Prior to joining Penn State, Professor Wadhia was deputy director for legal affairs at the National Immigration Forum in Washington, D.C. She has also been an associate with Maggio Kattar, P.C. in Washington, D.C., where she handled asylum, deportation, and employment-based immigration benefits matters.

Penn State Law



  • Immigration Law

  • Prosecutorial Discretion

  • Immigration and National Security


  • Immigration Law

  • Asylum & Refugee Law 

  • Center for Immigrants' Rights Clinic

Awards and Honors

  • 2019 Elmer Fried Award for Excellence in Teaching, American Immigration Lawyers Association 

  • 2019 Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year, Center for Immigrants' Rights Clinic 

  • National Immigration Project 2017 Honoree 

  • Department of Homeland Security's Office for the Inspector General, Leadership Award

  • Department of Homeland Security's Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Leadership Award

  • American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Pro Bono Attorney of the Year