Table of Contents
- What Is Immigration Law
- What Is An Immigration Lawyer?
- What Is The Role Of An Immigration Lawyer?
- The Necessity Of Hiring An Immigration Lawyer
- 1. If You Have Been Charged With A Crime Or Convicted Of One:
- 2. If Your Previous Immigration Application Was Denied:
- 3. If You Were Previously Deported Or Barred From Entering The United States:
- 4. Contagious Disease:
- 5. During The Application Process, If You Encounter An Unreasonable Wait Time:
- 6. If You Divorce Your First U.S Citizen Spouse Before The Rules For Permanent Residency Are Lifted And Would Like To Adjust Your Status By Getting Married To Another U.S citizen:
- 7. If You Have To File Alone In The Case Of An Unsuccessful Marriage To A U.S. Citizen, You Can File Your Petition To Have The Residency Requirement Lifted:
- 8. Having A Child Under 21 Years Old:
- 9. In Case Of Visa Or A Green Card Based On A Job Offer
- 10. If You’ve Tried The Process Yourself And Stumped About What To Do Next:
- 11. If You’re Changing Your Immigration Status In The United States:
- 12. If You Are Confronting Deportation Proceedings In Front Of An Immigration Judge:
- What Don’t Immigration Lawyers Do?
- Immigration Lawyer Vs. Immigration Consultant
- How To Become An Immigration Lawyer
- 1. Earn A Bachelor’s Degree
- 2. Obtain A J.D
- 3. Pass The Bar Exam
- 4. Join The Association Of Immigration Lawyers
- 5. Gain Practical Experience
- 6. Earn Certification
- Some Required Abilities
- How To Choose The Best Immigration Lawyers
- Wrapping Up
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
If you’re seeking information about immigration lawyers and how they can assist you, this article will meet your needs. You must have a basic understanding of their role before you hire one.
An immigration lawyer is a self-employed professional who assists you with a variety of challenges involving visas, green cards, U.S. citizenship, and other immigration advantages. If you’re looking for an immigration lawyer to represent you in immigrating to the United States or assist you in avoiding deportation, make sure you choose an appropriate lawyer.
Also, remember that not all immigration issues demand the assistance of an immigration lawyer. For instance, if you just want to visit the United States for a vacation and are assured that you will be able to return in 90 days, you might not require a visa.
However, immigration law in the United States is quite complicated. Hiring an attorney can save you time, aggravation, and even money in many circumstances. So, in this piece, I’ve covered everything you need to know before hiring an immigration lawyer, including what to anticipate from an immigration lawyer and how to prevent becoming a victim of immigration fraud. Let’s get started without further ado.
What Is Immigration Law
The national statutes, regulations, and legal precedents that control immigration into and deportation from a country are referred to as immigration law. They are distinct from other concerns like citizenship and naturalization. However, they are frequently mixed up.
What Is An Immigration Lawyer?
An immigration lawyer is a lawyer who specializes in immigration law and is legally qualified. An immigration lawyer is also known as a solicitor, advisor, or caseworker. An immigration lawyer can assist you in your immigration case. The immigration laws are extremely complicated. So, an immigration lawyer can provide you with legal advice as well as actionable steps to pursue. They can assist you in gathering facts and composing your application. For instance, an immigration lawyer can assist you in obtaining the right visa to depart or enter any country.
What Is The Role Of An Immigration Lawyer?
The role of an immigration lawyer is quite distinctive compared to other sorts of lawyers. The majority of immigration lawyers devote their time to assisting people who are having problems complying with immigration statutes.
An immigration lawyer or attorney focuses on legal matters relating to immigration, which is defined as the act of moving from one country to another to live or work for a set amount of time. Immigration laws in the United States are exceedingly intricate, and even expert lawyers rarely comprehend all the ins and outs of the immigration legal system in the United States.
An immigration lawyer is an expert at interpreting U.S immigration law. An immigration lawyer assists clients by guiding the complex and ever-changing immigration process. Foreign residents and immigrants who must deal with immigration officials in the United States generally seek the advice or guidance of immigration lawyers. They serve as go-betweens for their clients and the immigration authorities, such as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
If any client is facing an immigration hearing, an immigration lawyer will appear before the court. Many immigration lawyers also work on cases involving the convergence of immigration and criminal law. So, let’s look at some of the information and guidance that an immigration lawyer is likely to provide:
- Visa applications
- Green cards
- Deportation; and
- Non-citizen employment.
The Necessity Of Hiring An Immigration Lawyer
It is not always essential to hire an immigration lawyer. But, working with an attorney who is well-versed in all the current immigration regulations can considerably lessen the danger of making blunders or errors. Most people are seen hiring an immigration lawyer when filing immigration papers, such as a visa or green card application.
There are specific instances where having an immigration lawyer is emergent. The following are some common areas
1. If You Have Been Charged With A Crime Or Convicted Of One:
Almost every USCIS application inquires about the applicant’s criminal history. So, you must reveal your whole criminal background. Even if the charges were dropped or expunged, you must show a criminal record. However, not all infractions result in deportation. For example, making a false representation on immigration documents can lead to expulsion. In these cases, hiring a criminal lawyer is not required because an immigration lawyer always understands how immigration and criminal laws coincide.
2. If Your Previous Immigration Application Was Denied:
If your immigration application has been denied in the past, you need an immigration lawyer. An immigration lawyer can help you figure out why your application was denied. They can also tell if it’s fixable.
3. If You Were Previously Deported Or Barred From Entering The United States:
If you have already been deported or restricted from entering the United States, you will need to hire an immigration lawyer. Deportation or exclusion might sometimes result in a permanent ban on future applications. An immigration lawyer can help you understand the consequences of deportation and exclusion.
4. Contagious Disease:
If you have carried any contagious diseases, then you may be ineligible to enter the United States. An immigration lawyer can assist you in determining whether your medical condition will disqualify you and what choices you have.
5. During The Application Process, If You Encounter An Unreasonable Wait Time:
You should consider employing an immigration lawyer if you have been waiting for an excessive period during the application procedure. Immigration lawyers are acquainted with the application procedure, including deadlines and wait times. A seasoned immigration lawyer will develop ties with USCIS staff, allowing for a quicker decision on your application’s status.
6. If You Divorce Your First U.S Citizen Spouse Before The Rules For Permanent Residency Are Lifted And Would Like To Adjust Your Status By Getting Married To Another U.S citizen:
Marriage-based visa applications are normally filed jointly. If a marriage has ended due to divorce or death, proving that it was not a phony may be very challenging. In such cases, an immigration lawyer can assist you to prove that the marriage was legitimate.
7. If You Have To File Alone In The Case Of An Unsuccessful Marriage To A U.S. Citizen, You Can File Your Petition To Have The Residency Requirement Lifted:
Waiving the joint petition requirement might be challenging, especially if your former spouse and his or her family refuse to present you with any evidence that the marriage was not a sham.
8. Having A Child Under 21 Years Old:
Children under the age of 21 have a particular set of requirements for permanent residency. If you are emigrating with your family and have a child who will be twenty-one years old before you are awarded permanent residency, an immigration lawyer can advise you on the best approach to file for your child’s application.
9. In Case Of Visa Or A Green Card Based On A Job Offer
If you’re applying for a visa or a green card based on a job offer, but your potential employer hasn’t agreed to handle the immigration process for you, you need an immigration lawyer. It is tough to obtain a visa or green card based on a job offer. If protocols are not followed correctly, long delays can develop.
10. If You’ve Tried The Process Yourself And Stumped About What To Do Next:
The immigration process is notoriously tough, and many people seek legal assistance because their patience has run out. USCIS may require supplementary papers or evidence to back up an applicant’s claim. In many cases, working with an attorney from the beginning will help you prevent delays and even expedite the process.
11. If You’re Changing Your Immigration Status In The United States:
If you are in the United States with one type of visa or status and wish to change to another, the immigration laws can be more complex. Many foreigners can make such adjustments, but facts such as whether you have the permission to travel to and from the United States on your present visa could imperil your current application. An immigration lawyer can be a great choice to get legal guidance to avoid complications.
12. If You Are Confronting Deportation Proceedings In Front Of An Immigration Judge:
An immigration lawyer can assist you if you are facing deportation or removal from the United States by performing the following:
- Conduct legal analysis to find all available options for relief.
- Prepare any witnesses for your court appearance.
- Dealing with esoteric court schedules and procedural requirements
- Prepare briefs arguing the law on your behalf.
- Assisting you in presenting your case
The judge hearing your case will not guide you to the correct replies, albeit if you don’t have a lawyer, the court may ask you questions.
What Don’t Immigration Lawyers Do?
An immigration lawyer will not be able to accompany you to the consular interview if you are located overseas. They may compile relevant papers and interact with the involved consulates later. Please remember that immigration lawyers can’t make the immigration process go faster, and they can’t guarantee the outcome. An attorney can only assist you in navigating the immigration procedure, they cannot influence the outcome.
Immigration Lawyer Vs. Immigration Consultant
For the processing of immigration, you might be wondering, will you hire an immigration lawyer or an immigration consultant? What’s the difference between the two, and what can you expect from them? Let’s take a closer look at each one separately.
One of the first considerations should be where you wish to settle. Because when it comes to working with immigration lawyers or immigration consultants, several countries have various criteria and norms.
For instance, in Canada, you can hire licensed consultants or immigration lawyers to represent you. On the other hand, there is no formal accreditation process for immigration consultants in the United States. This means there are no official procedures for establishing credibilities, such as standardized tests or educational requirements. That isn’t to say that uncertified specialists aren’t capable. Rather, you should make sure that the immigration professional you hire has a strong reputation.
Please note that since there is no certification process for immigration consultants in the United States, they are prohibited from answering any legal inquiries about immigration. It would be illegal to practice law without a license, which is a crime.
But, the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) in Canada and the Migration Agents Registration Authority in Australia both offer accreditation as a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant.
The Distinction Between An Immigration Lawyer And An Immigration Consultant
The following are the two most significant distinctions between the lawyers and consultants profession:
Services: Lawyers and consultants can provide most of the same services when it comes to practicing immigration law. Lawyers can defend a client in federal court in complex matters, whereas consultants can only appeal to the appellate panel when an application is rejected.
Education: Lawyers graduate from law school after three years of study in diverse fields of law. They work at a firm and pass the bar test. Once they graduate, they usually specialize in two or three fields.
On the contrary, consultants complete a 6- to 12-month course focused solely on immigration law and take a national exam. A university degree is needed for both programs.
In addition to the most notable differences, they have slight differences in:
Fees: Fees for consultants and lawyers can vary significantly between professions and among peers. Although immigration consultants are sometimes less expensive than lawyers, this is not always the case. For the same service, lawyers and consultants can charge from $8,000 to $10,000 at one firm and $3,000 to $5,000 at another.
It’s important to have access to a lawyer or consultant who can effectively defend you in complicated situations. Having a lawyer from the beginning of the process can be a good idea if you think you will probably end up in federal court. While consultants are not allowed to participate in federal court, not all lawyers will be interested in representing you in these cases.
In addition, becoming a qualified lawyer or consultant takes more than simply education. The ability to interpret and implement the law, as well as experience, are immensely valuable. A fallacy is asserting that all lawyers or consultants have more experience than others. In professional life, they must start somewhere. One lawyer may specialize in family sponsorships while the other may not. Similarly, a consultant may be more experienced with temporary foreign workers than a lawyer.
Last but not least, choose an expert that you believe is right for you, whether it’s a lawyer or a consultant. Inquire about their previous experiences. If feasible, meet with them in person or through Skype. Read client testimonials and reviews.
How Do You Ensure Whether The Lawyer You’re Working With Isn’t A Swindler?
It is not unusual for a fraudulent immigration lawyer to be trapped. So, make sure to check the following before you hire one.
- Lawyers must register with their respective bar associations in each state where they intend to practice. Don’t forget to check attorney registration online to see if your lawyer is licensed or not. If you’re in New York, look up your attorney’s name in the attorney registration database.
- You can also check if your lawyer is a member of AILA by navigating to the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s website. Both lawyers and the general public can get benefits from the American Immigration Lawyers Association. The lawyer, who is a member of this association, receives regular updates on new immigration developments.
The public can use the AILA website for information on immigration as well as information about AILA members who practice immigration law.
When you submit an immigration application, you must ensure that you are eligible and that the information you provide is accurate. If you are not eligible or the information on the applications is false, you may be deported or, in the worst-case scenario, prosecuted and deported for filing a false application.
Techniques To Protect Yourself From Immigration Scams
- Ensure that you have a copy of any documents you sign.
- Verify that your immigration lawyer is a member of a state bar association.
- Ensure that your immigration lawyer is a member of AILA.
- Beware of a lawyer who assures you that if he/she files your application for you, it will be granted. These types of promises are illegal under the law.
- If you are undocumented, exercise extreme caution. Immigrants who are in the United States without immigration documents or who have entered the country without papers (or with phony papers) will most likely be unable to seek immigration status.
- But, keep in mind that those who entered the United States without papers before June 15, 2007, and were under the age of 16 at that time, are exempt from # 5 above. In that instance, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) for two years might be an alternative.
- The official forms from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) are available at no charge. So, be careful about that if the lawyer asks you to pay for the form.
- For filing fees, the USCIS does not accept cash. Only money orders, credit cards, and certified checks are accepted. So, if a lawyer or company asks you to contribute cash to file your applications with the USCIS, DO NOT TRUST THIS BUSINESS OR PERSON.
- Before signing any paperwork, make sure you read it carefully.
How To Become An Immigration Lawyer
If you want to work as an immigration lawyer, you’ll need to acquire skills and knowledge. Let’s take a look at what you need to become an immigration lawyer.
1. Earn A Bachelor’s Degree
Potential lawyers must first obtain a bachelor’s degree before enrolling in law school. Your bachelor’s degree can be in any field, but some concentrations make it easier to get into law school since they offer you valuable skills and knowledge that will help you advance in your legal profession.
To become a lawyer, the majority of students choose BA LLB or LLB programs. After completing their bachelor’s degree, they can pursue LLM specializations.
- Educational Qualifications
- For Law courses like BA LLB or BBA LLB: You must have completed 10+2 in any subject or its equivalent from a recognized board and have received the minimum grades required by your chosen university.
- For LLB: You have to obtain a 3- to 4-year bachelor’s degree in any discipline from a recognized university.
- For LLM: you must have earned an LLB from a recognized law school.
- For LLD: You must hold a Ph.D. in a relevant discipline and have worked in the sector for at least 6-10 years.
2. Obtain A J.D
Once you have completed your bachelor’s degree, it’s time to enroll in law school to acquire your J.D.(Juris Doctor). Obtain a J.D from an American Bar Association-accredited law school. If you have the opportunity, consider emphasizing or specializing in immigration law to best prepare for your future job. Although it is not technically required to become an immigration lawyer, it will provide you with additional expertise in the sector, which will be useful once you have obtained your law license.
3. Pass The Bar Exam
To practice immigration law, you’ll need to pass the bar exam in the state where you aim to practice. Most jurisdictions offer a 6-hour multistate bar examination that includes a variety of legal disciplines, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
4. Join The Association Of Immigration Lawyers
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to becoming an immigration lawyer, but there are some resources available to assist you along the way. By joining the American Immigration Lawyer Association, you can become acquainted with the immigration legal community, network with professionals, and look for jobs (www.aila.org).
5. Gain Practical Experience
Gaining hands-on experience is important since many clients and businesses look for it when deciding who to hire. Look for internships, volunteer opportunities, and part-time jobs wherever possible.
6. Earn Certification
Though earning a specialized certification is not required to become an immigration lawyer, it might help you stand out to clients, especially in some jurisdictions.
Some Required Abilities
A successful immigration lawyer requires more than just a degree. To do justice to the field, you must have particular abilities. Most of the skills will take years to perfect. Let’s have a look at a few of them.
1. A Keen Sense Of Observation
An immigration lawyer reviews a lot of paperwork regularly. As a result, mistakes may occur, causing the procedure to take longer. So, you must have an excellent eye for details and avoid making mistakes. It will enable you to point out any flaws in the papers before they are sent out.
2. Outstanding Communication Skill
An immigration lawyer must have strong communication skills. Because explaining these regulations and justifying all of the documentation is a difficult chore when dealing with such complicated paperwork. As a result, the immigration lawyer must either communicate with the client or work with a skilled communicator who can clarify what the client needs to know in simple words.
3. Problem-Solving Capabilities
When clients are confronted with an issue, a lawyer must be able to solve it and propose possible remedies.
4. A Craving For Knowledge
Immigration law is always evolving. You should keep your knowledge of the law and the government up-to-date.
5. Active Listening
To treat people properly, you must have the talent for active listening!
You must be persistent in completing all of the work that the client requires to get the desired result.
How To Choose The Best Immigration Lawyers
Choosing an immigration lawyer might be tricky. Immigration is a complicated process that has far-reaching implications for your life. There are many immigration lawyers to choose from. In this life-settle process, how do you know to whom you will entrust your case?
Immigration lawyers who are aggressive, competent, and sensitive to your circumstances are likely to be the best. Your immigration lawyer will meet with you one-to-one to gain a deeper understanding of your situation. If an immigration law company offers initial consultations with paralegals or non-attorneys, be skeptical. This is not only illegal because only attorneys are permitted to provide legal advice, but it can also put your entire future in the United States in jeopardy. So, before you choose an immigration lawyer, learn what sets a good one apart from a great one.
Here are eight tips to consider while looking for the best immigration lawyers to work with.
1. Choose Quality
Don’t hire the first lawyer you come across if you’re in a rush. Instead of going with the cheapest option, hire a high-quality lawyer who can handle your case professionally. Dealing with significant sums of money might be stressful, but don’t always go for the cheapest alternative. Choose a lawyer who can persuade you that he is capable of completing the task successfully.
2. Seek Out A Referral
Don’t forget to go through your network to determine whether anyone you know has ever hired an immigration lawyer. Inquire among your friends and family. You might have an acquaintance who has already gone through the immigration process and can recommend a good lawyer to deal with.
3. Verify Credentials
Once you’ve found a potential lawyer for your case, double-check that the lawyer has the real deal. Find out what their qualifications are and what kind of experience they have. Utilize a lawyer’s website to gather information about them. You can also check an attorney’s credentials through a variety of additional resources. Contact the local state bar where the lawyer practices and examine their website’s database. For an immigration lawyer, the AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association) website is a good place to start. They maintain a directory of potential immigration attorneys who both practice and teach immigration law. If you employ a lawyer from this organization, you can rest assured that the lawyer has the necessary qualifications.
4. Interview With Shortlisted Immigration Lawyers
To narrow down your decision on who you should deal with after shortlisting the best immigration lawyers, you’ll need to contact them. Make a brief phone call or set up an interview with them to determine whether they’re a suitable fit for you and your needs. During the interview, don’t forget to inquire about previous instances they’ve worked on. Ensure that they are experienced with immigration law and have dealt with cases similar to yours in the past. Confirm their competence and whether or not they are a good fit for you.
5. Ask For References
When you sit down with a lawyer, ask for references. An experienced and skilled immigration attorney should be able to give you references from previous instances as well as a list of satisfied clients.
6. Talk About The Fee
You must know exactly what you’re getting for your money. Take the time to discuss the fees ahead of time. Examine the pricing schedules of any lawyers you’re thinking about hiring. Determine whether they bill by the hour or flat fee. Ask for any additional expenditures, such as postal or long-distance fees, that you’ll incur during the operation.
7. Take Into Account Your Comfortability
When seeking the best immigration lawyer, please don’t forget to take into account your comfortability. If a lawyer has outstanding credentials but he doesn’t seem like a good fit for you, you should ignore him. Another thing to bear in mind is that having a lawyer that is fluent in your language can significantly help to streamline the process and make communication a breeze.
8. Utilize Cloud
A lawyer who is familiar with and capable of leveraging the cloud to replace superfluous physical documents can make the entire procedure much simpler. You can easily manage paperwork if you can sign documents electronically. When it comes to mailing, it can also save you a lot of money and time.
If you follow the methods outlined above, you’ll be able to hire a good immigration lawyer to work on your case. Choose a great lawyer who understands your requirements.
Finally, dealing with immigration concerns can be time-consuming, but it will be worthwhile in the end. Everything will be done smoothly once you pick an outstanding lawyer who fits you. Make a judgment based on all of the information presented here. If you do your research before hiring one, you will be a winner in the end.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. What Job Does An Immigration Lawyer Perform?
An immigration lawyer has the legal ability to represent you in court, saving you the time, money, and bother of engaging a third party.
2. Can Any Lawyer Handle Immigration Cases?
Lawyers who have been accredited by the immigration court can represent you in the immigration court and handle your case. Only lawyers who have a license to practice law in state or federal courts are permitted to give legal advice, such as which forms to submit to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
3. What Qualifications Do Immigration Lawyers Require?
Some of the traits of an immigration lawyer are exceptional judgment, creative problem-solving abilities, strong communication skills, the ability to speak in public, compassion, deep eye skills, etc.
4. How Much Does An Immigration Lawyer Make?
Immigration lawyer salaries in the United States range from $55,870 to $187,200, with median compensation of $115,820. The middle 60% of immigration lawyers earn between $115,820 and $120,480 per year, with the top 80% earning $187,200 per year.