A good immigration attorney can be found if you know where and what to look for. Whether visiting for an extended period of time or relocating with permanent intentions, the immigration process can be overwhelming. Having knowledge of immigration laws as they relate to your specific concerns, however, can be of tremendous help. A good immigration attorney is one who is not only knowledgeable, but will also assist in the emigration process, as well as ensure that dates, deadlines, special needs, and all required official paperwork is handled in an orderly manner. Here’s a look at an in-depth guide for finding a good immigration attorney.
What Is an Immigration Attorney?
An immigration lawyer is one who specializes in procedures relating to people visiting a country on a temporary or a long-term basis and who may assist in the process of a foreigner becoming a permanent citizen of that country. A good immigration attorney is one who exclusively practices in this area of the law as opposed to intensively focusing on other areas, such as real estate law, criminal law, family law, or personal injury. While a lawyer who specializes in immigration may also be well-versed in these other areas of law, as they will sometimes intersect, a good immigration attorney’s main area of focus and expertise will relate primarily to administrative law relating to specific immigration issues.
How Can an Immigration Attorney Help?
People move to different countries for a variety of reasons. Some may emigrate for education and career opportunities, while others may do so while seeking safety and refuge due to perceived dangers and threats in one’s own country. Some people may simply prefer life in another country or choose to be closer to family members who live there. Whatever the reasoning, it is necessary to abide by the rules and processes set forth by the country one is immigrating to.
A good immigration attorney can help people navigate these processes by ensuring that all applications and official paperwork are completed in a timely, orderly, and correct fashion. In addition to the logistical challenges of moving from one country to another, a traveler is also responsible for communicating with the government of a foreign country to inform them as to why they would like to visit for an extended stay or permanently reside in that country. This information is relayed through a lengthy process involving various forms, documentation, stages, and face-to-face interviews. One misstep can result in an immediate denial of entry or in deportation if the person is already in the visiting country. It is, therefore, recommended that an attorney is sought who can assist with this process and lessen the likelihood of mistakes and missteps.
In the United States, an immigration lawyer can specifically help with:
- Seeking asylum for those who face imminent danger in their own country and who are seeking safety in the United States of America
- Explaining the various visa options and assisting in determining which one is best for one’s immigration desires
- Obtaining a visa for those who wish to go to school or work in the country, or for those who wish to visit for an extended period of time
- Assisting in bringing a child or other immediate family member into the country while one’s own separate immigration case may be pending
- Obtaining or renewing a permanent resident card, also known as a green card, which will legally permit one to live and work in the country
- Becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States
- Understanding what to expect during scheduled phone and face-to-face interviews with government officials as it pertains to immigration
- Ensuring all applications have been properly completed
- Ensuring that all necessary documentation has been provided to immigration officials
- Requesting extensions if or when necessary throughout the immigration process
- Assisting in filing an appeal if an application has been previously denied
- Avoiding or delaying deportation
How Do I Find a Good Immigration Attorney?
There is no short supply of attorneys in the United States as such can be found in consumer directories, on the Internet, and through advertisements. Finding a good immigration attorney – one who has a high success rate and who may handle your unique concerns – is another story. Here are some of the best ways to find an immigration attorney best suited to your needs:
Word of Mouth
One of the best ways to find a good immigration attorney is through the recommendation of someone who has experience with one. Preferably, someone who has directly used an attorney’s services and who has benefitted from them.
In the United States, legal aid services are provided in most areas. Contacting an agency providing free and low-cost legal services in your area can introduce you to immigration attorneys uniquely qualified to help with your immigration case.
As mentioned, immigration attorneys often advertise in consumer directories, online, in print, and on radio or television. You may also find business cards and other advertising materials in areas with high immigrant populations.
Community Service and Religious Institutions
Community-based organizations and religious institutions often provide outreach services to immigrants. Through one of these, it may be possible to obtain a recommendation for a good immigration attorney.
Things to Consider Before Hiring an Immigration Attorney
Prior to contacting an immigration attorney, it may help to jot down a list of things you need help with and questions you may have. After reviewing this list, you may realize you need an attorney who specializes in other areas of the law in addition to immigration. For example, if you are facing criminal charges in the foreign country you hope to remain in, you may need a criminal immigration lawyer. If you are a foreign visitor who shares a child with a citizen of the country you are in, you may need help with custody issues, so an attorney specializing in immigration and who is also versed in family law may be useful. Writing all of your needs down before contacting an attorney can help you ask the right questions to get the help that you need.
Here are a few other suggestions to consider before choosing an immigration attorney:
- Does the attorney speak and understand your native language?
- Is the attorney able to explain immigration processes in a manner you can understand?
- Does the attorney have a track record of success with your unique immigration needs?
- Is the attorney somewhat familiar with your culture and customs?
- Is the attorney familiar with the immigration laws of your home country?
- Does the attorney have a good reputation? (NOTE: You may check with others in your community or search for information about an attorney online if you’re uncertain.)
- How often can you expect to communicate with the attorney and will they be available to answer questions by phone or email outside of scheduled appointment times, when necessary?
If you have special needs, such as a pending criminal case or matters pertaining to marriage, divorce, or custody, write a separate list of questions about these needs. Ideally, you’ll want to hire an immigration attorney who is experienced in that area of the law, as well. This is because a person’s immigration status can often affect the outcomes of these cases differently than they would those of a natural born citizen. Hiring an immigration attorney who is also experienced in these additional matters can help you avoid the cost of hiring two separate attorneys to represent you in court.
How Much Will a Good Immigration Attorney Cost?
It is difficult to say how much an individual attorney may charge for his or her services. While some will work on a sliding scale according to what you can afford, others may charge a flat fee, or even an hourly fee. In addition to time spent completing paperwork on your behalf, some attorneys may also charge for time spent making telephone calls relating to your case or even speaking to you in person or by phone.
Before deciding to hire an immigration attorney, ask about their fees and what sort of charges you can expect to be billed for. Do not sign a contract or otherwise commit to using their services before you have a clear understanding of all charges and fees involved. It is also important to agree upon how costs will be paid and a schedule of payment before committing to work together.
Finding a good immigration attorney takes time and effort. Proceeding with immigration processes without the help of a qualified professional is highly discouraged, particularly if you wish to avoid errors, setbacks, deportation, and other denials which can delay immigration. More information on matters relating to immigration can be found throughout this site. Should you need specific information on how to immigrate to the United States or have other more general questions relating to this topic, we suggest you search our database to learn more.