Tips to Choosing an Excellent Immigration Lawyer
The US immigration process can be very complicated, confusing and time consuming. Having a good immigration attorney fighting for you can make all the difference to your case. On the flipside, a bad immigration lawyer can fail to deliver the promised services, overcharge you and/or harm your case in a way you might never recover from.
The best way to start the immigration process for you and your family is to research immigration attorneys and law firms. But what benchmarks should you keep in mind as you go through the process of interviewing immigration attorneys/firms?
Get a Referral
Often word-of-mouth is the best way to choose an immigration attorney. Your network of family, friends or colleagues may know other individuals who have dealt with immigration attorneys in order to acquire a green card residency visa or other benefit. You can learn firsthand about the kind of experience the individual had when working with the immigration attorney.
Asking for References
After you’ve been referred to a good lawyer, schedule a consultation where the lawyer strategizes his/her plan of action for your individual situation. Be sure to ask for references. A good immigration lawyer should have great online reviews (Google, Yelp, Avvo) and an abundant list of happy former clients willing to recommend the firm’s services. Other possible resources are researching them via the local bar association, the local chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), and a member in good standing of the Better Business Bureau.
Consider More than Just Price
Don’t blindly choose an immigration lawyer based on pricing. Like many things in life, you get what you pay for. There are plenty of sub-par immigration attorneys out there offering reduced pricing versus the competition. Some may be handling too many cases at once and don’t have a proper team to dedicate quality time and personalized service to your case. Others may not have the proper experience in complicated areas of immigration law
Tips to Choosing an Immigration Lawyer
The US immigration process can be highly taxing and difficult. When you are navigating through the thorny process, you will want the best lawyer to guide you through all steps. The best way to kick off the immigration process for you and your loved ones is to have exploratory consultations with a number of immigration attorneys. But what guidelines should you keep in mind as you go through the process of interviewing immigration attorneys?
Don’t Look for a Bargain
Don’t just blindly choose an immigration lawyer. There are a lot of terrible and mediocre immigration attorneys out there. Some may be juggling too many cases at once, making it tough for them to dedicate quality time to your case. Others don’t have enough experience in specific areas of immigration law. Still others are only looking to make as much money as possible from their current portfolio of clients.
Get a Trusted Referral
Tap into your network of friends and acquaintances to find other individuals who have dealt with immigration attorneys in order to acquire a green card residency visa. Word-of-mouth referrals are the best to consider as you can learn firsthand about the kind of experience the visa recipient had when working with the immigration attorney
Ask for References
Once you are referred to a good lawyer, arrange to have a consultation wherein the lawyer gives his or her best recommendations for visa options. Be sure to ask for references. A good immigration lawyer should suffer from no shortage of happy former clients ready and willing to recommend the law firm’s services.
Immigration law firms typically charge by the hour. However, some law firms charge fixed fees for the standard preparing and filing of your case. Opt always to pay a fixed fee for a law firm’s services or else require that they give you an estimation of how much time it will take to file your case so that you know how much their services will cost you in terms of time and money.
HOW TO CHOOSE AN IMMIGRATION LAWYER
Choosing an immigration lawyer can be daunting. Immigration is a complicated process: You need someone who is proactive, knowledgeable and sympathetic to your situation. The process requires time, diligence and tireless attention to detail. It is also a collaboration that involves constant cooperation and communication between you and your attorney. So before you hire an immigration attorney, learn what separates a good immigration lawyer for a great one – do your research before your first consultation.
When the time comes to choose an immigration lawyer, look for one who:
Specializes exclusively in immigration law and has broad immigration law experience. Immigration law is very complex and is extraordinarily detail-intensive. A lawyer who claims to have immigration law experience will not necessarily have the same expertise as one who practices immigration law exclusively. Often, attorneys who practice immigration as well as other fields such as corporate or family law, do not have a great understanding of immigration law as a whole. More often than not, they have some understanding of simple petitions and may handle standard cases, but they tend not to have broad immigration law experience or expertise for more complicated cases.
Practices in a multi-lawyer firm. When you hire an attorney, you are not hiring just one person to handle your case, you are hiring a team of legal professionals. The advantage of hiring an attorney from a multi-lawyer practice is that your attorney will have an immediate pool of additional resources. No one can be an expert in everything – having a team of talented and experienced lawyers working closely together will inspire and allow your attorney to tackle a myriad of different issues
Is well-known and well-respected in the community. Immigration law is a very specialized field and reputation is everything. Before hiring an immigration lawyer, do your research to find out if your lawyer is a respected member of the professional community. Check your lawyer’s credentials to ascertain whether he or she is authorized to practice law (i.e. has passed the Bar and remains in good standing), and research his or her track record. Your local state bar website will disclose if your attorney has any complaints or violations that have been filed against them. The American Immigration Lawyer Association (AILA), is another good resource. This is the official professional organization for immigration lawyers and can provide you with recommendations on immigration lawyers in your area. However, membership in AILA does not guarantee a lawyer’s experience or success record.
What to Expect from Your Attorney:
When you attend your first consultation, pay attention to your attorney’s demeanor with you and with the rest of the staff. Your attorney should be familiar with the law and able to answer your questions and concerns directly. The consultation should start soon after you complete any necessary paperwork. Ideally, the firm should feel inviting and professional. Company culture and relations among staff members are crucial factors in establishing a positive atmosphere. It has been proven time and again that the best law firms have professionals who can work together as a team. In our experience, a friendly work environment and true emphasis on teamwork add tremendous value for our clients.
How to Find an Excellent Immigration Lawyer
A good immigration attorney can make all the difference to your case. Many are hard working, honest professionals who genuinely want to help. They could, after all, potentially be making a lot more money in some other area of law. They’re also dealing with a difficult, delay-prone bureaucracy; and facing more frustrations than ever since the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in many immigration office closures and further delays.
However, a bad immigration lawyer can overcharge you, fail to provide the promised services, and/or damage your case in a way you might never recover from. Whether you are seeking to file a petition for a visa or green card, trying to avoid deportation, or applying for some other immigration benefit, make sure you get the right sort of lawyer on your side. Here are some tips to avoid the shadier types of practitioners.
Avoid Lawyers Who Approach You at USCIS or Other Immigration Offices
A few “high-volume, low value” immigration attorneys prowl the hallways of immigration offices attempting to solicit business. This is not considered ethical behavior by the legal bar. Besides, any good immigration attorney is probably going to be too busy practicing immigration law and working for their clients to spend their time rounding up new clients this way.
Make Sure You’re Dealing With a Real Lawyer, Not a “Visa Consultant,” “Notario,” or “Petition Preparer”
Would you ask a neighbor to replace your heart valve, or your doctor to fill out your tax forms? Hopefully not. For the same reasons, only an actual, practicing lawyer should be trusted to handle your immigration matters. Unfortunately, many non-lawyers; even some well-meaning ones, who don’t recognize how complex this area of law really is; claim to be capable of assisting foreigners who need help with the immigration process. In many cases, they offer little value other than a typing service. In the worst cases, they might literally take your money and run, or fill out your forms in wrong and dangerous ways without telling you the meaning of what they’re doing.
Research the Lawyer
You can probably find out a lot about your lawyer online: whether he or she is listed as a member of a state bar association (a requirement) and of the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association or AILA (a professional organization that most of the best attorneys join); whether he or she gets good reviews on websites like Martindale; whether the lawyer has written professional articles for publication; and so on.
TIPS FOR CHOOSING THE BEST IMMIGRATION LAWYERS
Looking for help on your immigration case? Wondering how to find the best immigration lawyers? You may be eager to get help immediately, but not all immigration lawyers are all they claim to be. It’s important to take the time to choose an excellent attorney that is qualified and motivated.
When trying to find the best immigration lawyers, it is best not to choose blindly and hire the first lawyer you come across. It is also much better to look for a high-quality lawyer that can handle your case like a professional than to choose the low-cost bargain option.
LOOK FOR A REFERRAL
When looking for an attorney for your immigration case, it is an excellent idea to dig into your personal network and find out if anyone you know has used an immigration lawyer in the past.
When you identify a potential attorney for your case, you need to make sure they are the real deal. Find out what their credentials are and where their experience lies. While you can find out some of this information from the lawyer’s website or from them, you can use several other sources to verify attorney credentials.
INTERVIEW THE BEST IMMIGRATION LAWYERS YOU HAVE SHORTLISTED
Once you have created a list of the best immigration lawyers you could find and narrowed down the choices to who you may want to work with, you need to reach out to them.