The Role of an Immigration Attorney
Whether you need an immigration attorney depends on your reasons for entering the United States and your background. If you want to visit the U.S., you may not even need to get a visa. Check with a U.S. consulate or embassy in your country to determine the visa requirements. Many foreign nationals can enter the United States without first getting a visa and remain in the U.S. for certain limited periods. Others must follow various U.S. immigration processes.
Suppose you are coming to the United States for a job offer from a U.S. employer. In that case, your prospective employer will probably either hire an attorney to do the work or use someone on staff with specialized training in immigration procedures.
You might have to consult an attorney because you are overwhelmed or frustrated by getting a green card or bringing a family member to the U.S., and have been unable to get help from the Bureau of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or other government agencies.
You might even be finding the naturalization process far too complicated. Maybe, you are facing deportation, are amid removal proceedings, or are seeking political asylum. Perhaps, you are dealing with legal issues that have negatively affected the status of your visa or your immigration status.
Whatever the case, noncitizens should seek the legal services of an attorney licensed by a bar association of any state in the United States. It's important to seek the services of an attorney at an immigration law firm. They need to specialize in immigration matters. U.S. immigration law can be confusing, but attorneys can help.
If you fear that there is something in your background that may prohibit you from getting a green card or bringing a family member to the U.S., or if you or a loved one have been contacted by the USCIS and threatened with deportation, it is well worth it to seek advice from an attorney. In some cases, failing to get the advice of an attorney could mean the difference between permanent residence and deportation. Many immigration attorneys will give you a free consultation or deduct the cost of the consultation from your total fees.
Reasons to Seek an Attorney's Help
If any of the following descriptions apply to you, it will be worth your while to seek legal advice from an immigration attorney:
1. If you have committed or been convicted of any crime. Most USCIS forms ask whether you have committed or been convicted of a crime, and remember that you will be fingerprinted if you want to immigrate. While not all crimes create a barrier to immigration, if you don't tell the truth on your immigration forms, you risk deportation.
2. If your prior applications have been denied. An attorney should be able to determine the problem and whether they can fix it. If you experience any issue like this during your visa application process, immigration lawyers can help.
3. If you have attempted the process on your own and cannot figure out what to do next. The immigration process is notoriously complicated, and many people hire attorneys because they have reached the limit of their patience. It is often better to hire an attorney rather than improvise and cause unnecessary delays in your immigration process.
4. If you have been deported or otherwise forced to leave the United States. Not all removals from the United States will result in permanent bars to immigration.
5. If you have an infectious disease. Not all diseases are a permanent bar to immigration.
6. If you have filed your immigration forms and have been waiting an unreasonable time for a response. A well-established immigration attorney will have relationships with USCIS staff that can push for a timely determination of the status of your application.
7. If you divorced your first U.S. spouse before the condition was removed from your permanent residence, you are now seeking to adjust your status based on marriage to another U.S. citizen. In many cases, proving that your first marriage was not a sham will be difficult.
8. If your marriage to a U.S. citizen failed before could file your petition to have the condition removed from your residency and you will have to file alone. The procedure for waiving the joint petition requirement can be extremely difficult, particularly when your former spouse their her family won't provide you with any evidence that the marriage was not a sham.
9. If you are immigrating with your family and you have a child, that could reach age 21 before your permanent residence status is granted. For example, if you are getting a green card through employment, your spouse and your children under 21 will also be eligible for green cards. You should consult an attorney to determine the fastest way to process your paperwork.
10. If you are getting a visa or green card based on an employment offer but your prospective employer has not offered to handle the immigration process. The process of getting a visa or green card based on employment offers is complicated. Failure to follow procedures correctly can result in lengthy delays and even denials.
11. If you are navigating an issue related to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, attorneys can also be useful. DACA is “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals." It was enacted to prevent eligible young adults from deportation after they were brought to the United States as children. It also provides these young adults with work authorization for limited periods of time. Those periods of work authorization are renewable. For more information about DACA, review FindLaw's What is DACA: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals? You can also learn more about DACA by reviewing USCIS's FAQ page on the program.
What Makes Someone An Attorney?
Typically, to qualify to practice law, a person must complete an undergraduate (bachelor's degree) program. After doing so, they must attend a law school accredited by the American Bar Association. When they graduate from law school, they will earn a juris doctorate degree.
Also, they must also pass the bar examination in whatever state they wish to practice. Under most circumstances, only then can they practice law, providing immigrants with legal advisory services in any context. Those contexts can include navigating your or your loved ones' immigration cases and appearances in immigration courts. Since immigration is federal law, an attorney with a bar license can practice in any of the 50 states.
It's best if you find an attorney that is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). This nonprofit provides continuing education and other services to immigration attorneys to practice immigration law more effectively.
Get Legal Help from an Immigration Attorney
Immigration issues are very complicated, and a full analysis of your case will require a discussion of your entire situation. Contact a skilled immigration attorney to learn more about how they can help you meet your immigration goals, including identifying all your options and helping to avoid potential pitfalls.
If you can't afford an attorney, there are low-cost and even free options for finding legal counsel. Review the U.S. government's page on legal aid for more information about finding attorneys that will work with you on a pro bono (no fee) basis.
You don't need to navigate these legal matters on your own. There are many law offices across the country where immigration lawyers do and want to help people who cannot afford legal services.
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.
Contact a qualified immigration attorney to help you get the best results possible.