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Hiring an Immigration Attorney

The outcome of immigration matters can enormously affect people and their families. The immigration process is complex, leading many to seek help from attorneys to get the best possible outcome.

But, hiring an attorney is a complex procedure. Potential clients must find an attorney, ensure competence, and maintain a transparent client relationship. Even if you have a recommendation from a trusted source or a nonprofit, you must do your homework. Knowing what to look for when hiring an immigration attorney is crucial.

Tips on Choosing An Immigration Attorney

  1. You must ensure the lawyer is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). You can visit AILA's official website to verify the lawyer's membership.
  2. Check if the attorney has relevant experience handling similar cases.
  3. For most family-based immigration cases, immigration lawyers charge a flat rate. Be vigilant if you encounter an attorney who charges by the hour. This could be a potential red flag.
  4. Check your state bar to ensure the attorney has no pending disciplinary actions and is eligible to practice law. Since immigration matters are federal, immigration lawyers can practice in any state. It's essential to know which state they are licensed in to make it easier to verify their credentials.
  5. Use the initial consultation to check how comfortable you are with the lawyer and understand their legal experience.
  6. Be honest with your legal concerns and your story. For instance, if you have previous arrests or convictions and the lawyer doesn't know about them, it's hard for the attorney to defend you later.

Roles of an Immigration Lawyer in the Immigration Process

An immigration lawyer is a professional who specializes in interpreting immigration laws. Trained in law school, they offer advocacy, legal services, and advice to clients navigating the immigration process. They also fill the role of a counselor, giving legal advice to clients who interact with immigration court officials. Many immigration lawyers also have years of experience processing documents with U.S. agencies like the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and more. Immigration lawyers can give you detailed guidance on navigating the immigration process.

Immigration lawyers also cover various practice areas related to immigration law. For instance, in some cases of family-based immigration, family laws and immigration laws play an essential role. Business immigration lawyers help corporations transfer foreign nationals to the United States.

In some cases, immigration lawyers can also represent clients in immigration courts in coordination with the Department of Justice (DOJ), such as in cancellation of removal proceedings or deportation hearings. But, most immigration lawyers do not handle civil disputes in federal courts or the Supreme Court. Instead, they act as mediators between their clients and government agencies. They can also help process visas with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

When Do I Need an Immigration Lawyer?

While an immigration attorney is not needed to migrate to the United States, working with an immigration lawyer is crucial due to the complexities of immigration laws and changing rules. Familiarity with employment-based immigration, family-based immigration, and visas can reduce the risk of errors. As a result, many noncitizens hire an immigration attorney to process legal documents like green cards or naturalization.

There are also some cases where the expertise of an immigration lawyer specializing in waivers of inadmissibility is helpful. Some of these situations include:

Prior Denial of Application

If you're a visa applicant with past application denials, a lawyer can identify the cause. They can tell you about waivers or reapplication strategies. They can also determine if reapplying later or appealing the application is possible.

Crime Conviction

Almost every USCIS form requires applicants to declare their criminal history, including charges later dropped or expunged. In this case, an immigration attorney can also be helpful. They can give legal advice about how this criminal record could affect your immigration application or immigration status.

Previous Deportation

An applicant will need to hire an immigration attorney if they have a previous history of deportation or exclusion from entering the United States. Exclusion or deportation could sometimes result in a permanent ban from filing a nonimmigrant or immigrant visa. An immigration attorney can help you understand your case. They give legal advice on issues like deportation, removal, or exclusion.

Terminated Marriage

In general, marriage-based visa applications are jointly filed. If the marriage was the basis for the foreign national's status or application, a termination could jeopardize their immigration process. In this case, it is helpful to seek legal advice from an immigration attorney.

Petitioning Family Members

If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and want to petition a family member to come to the United States, you must follow specific rules. The eligibility and requirements may vary depending on the family member's relationship with the petitioner. For children of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, their child's age and marital status play a crucial role in the adjustment of status.

Finding the Right Immigration Attorney

Finding the right legal professional can be difficult. Foreign nationals might struggle with the U.S. legal system, language barriers, or other communication issues. Even U.S. nationals can find the immigration system confusing when bringing a family member or hiring a foreign worker.

With proper legal representation, you can avoid some common pitfalls of immigration applications. These attorneys have experience handling such legal matters. They can also help you conduct legal research based on your immigration issue.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association is an association of lawyers and law professors who practice immigration law. It is a nonprofit organization that offers various legal services nationwide. It also has attorneys who provide pro bono services or help for immigration matters involving the federal government.

FindLaw also offers a directory of immigration law firms and law offices in every state. Check out their address and phone number to set up an initial consultation.

Learn More

  • Find an Immigration Lawyer: A guide to finding an immigration attorney suitable for you and your case. Learn about whether an immigration lawyer is necessary, how a lawyer can help, and how to find the right attorney.
  • The Role of an Immigration Attorney: If you're planning on entering the U.S. or you're dealing with an immigration issue, it may be in your best interests to consult with an attorney. This article explains several situations in which you should seek legal help.
  • Immigration Intake Questionnaire: Your attorney must know much about you and your immigration history to prepare your case best. This intake questionnaire will help you organize your information for meeting with an attorney.
  • Temporary Visas: If you plan to travel to the U.S. temporarily, you should first get a U.S. visa. A foreign national can apply for different types of temporary or nonimmigrant visas. Each visa has a specific purpose. For instance, USCIS gives business visas to those coming to the U.S. to attend business trips, conventions, and tourism. There are also visas for athletes and entertainers with internationally recognized reputations.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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