What to Look for When Choosing an Immigration Attorney


When looking to choose an immigration attorney, you must consider a few factors before making a final decision on who is suitable for your particular case. One of the first things to consider is your immigration status. This helps you determine what type of visa you are eligible for.

But due to the intricacy of the research and application processes (in addition to the ever-changing immigration policies), it will be more beneficial to have an immigration attorney handle the process for you.

Since immigration law is governed by the federal government and not the state, a lawyer from any U.S. jurisdiction can help you file an application. What this means is that lawyers from any state outside New York can serve as Rochester immigration lawyers legally representing you.

While this eases your search for immigration lawyers near you, it does not outline how you can find a suitable immigration attorney to choose for your specific case. In this article, you will learn the key things to look out for when choosing an immigration attorney.

1.   Availability

Immigration processes are usually long winding. They take a series of stages which can range anything from a few weeks to months before receiving news on the status of the application. For this reason, you will not want an immigration attorney who is not readily available.

One thing with immigration applications is that you may receive a notification to complete the documents you filed or add supporting ones. Having an immigration attorney who is not available to help with such situations can lead to delays in the final decision of your application.

A few things to look out for to determine an ideal immigration attorney include the following.

Paralegal/attorney ratio

You may contact an individual immigration attorney who runs their private practice or one from a law firm to legally represent you or assist your immigration efforts in one way or the other. Where the latter group is the choice, you should check the ratio of paralegals to attorneys in the prospective law firm.

If there are more than two paralegals assigned to an attorney, chances are the paralegals will be handling most of the work. This usually means you will not have access to an immigration lawyer that is vested in your application and is actively committed to the process since the paralegals handle all the work.

Prompt response to messages

An ideal immigration lawyer should respond to messages promptly. This is an essential quality you must look out for as it allows you to relay messages from the USCIS or relevant body as urgently as they come in.

Quite worthy of note is that the average time it takes for you to book a consultation with an immigration lawyer should not be the only determinant of a speedy response.

2.   Area of practice

Immigration is one field of law that lawyers can specialize in. But within immigration law, immigration attorneys can choose to focus their legal practice on a specific practice area. For instance, an immigration attorney could have employment-based immigration as their area of practice.

If such applies to your case, then such an attorney is better suited for your case. Also, avoid lawyers or law firms that take up many other kinds of cases in addition to immigration cases. Usually, they lack the expertise needed to tackle the complexities of immigration.

3.   Experience

This is another factor to consider when choosing an immigration attorney. While law school training and on-field practice equip all lawyers with the basic knowledge of immigration law and how to navigate the processes, years of experience in the field trumps lots of knowledge with no experience.

This gives you a fair idea of your chances of success. Also, an experienced immigration attorney can represent you more confidently as they are already familiar with the processes and immigration officials.

4.   References

References are a good way to assess the years of experience of an immigration attorney as well as evaluate the strategies they employed to yield a successful outcome in their cases. When you have a consultation with an immigration lawyer before you hire them, ask them for references from their past cases and clients who can attest to the quality of their services.

5.   Guarantee of a successful outcome

All immigration cases are unique. Therefore, seasoned immigration lawyers are never quick to guarantee a successful outcome. You should be wary of lawyers who do promise a successful result, as chances are they only want to secure their paycheck.

6.   Memberships and credentials

Membership with professional bodies is one way to determine if an immigration attorney is up to date with current trends in immigration policies and law. Such professional associations ensure their members get updated information as changes occur.

This is also another way to confirm that an immigration attorney has all the necessary credentials required to practice in any U.S. jurisdiction. Before you choose one, check the American Immigration Lawyer Association (AILA) for any shortlisted attorneys you may want to handle your case.

7.   Good standing with affiliated associations

Immigration is a sensitive aspect of law. Little discrepancies can lead to a denial of an application. Hence, you must check that this discrepancy does not creep in from your choice of an immigration attorney.

Ask your potential attorney some questions, including if they have received disciplinary action before or if they are in good standing with relevant associations. Not only will this help you assess their relationship with immigration officials, but it will also give you a fair idea of their work ethics.

When a prospective immigration attorney has received disciplinary action, do a little research and learn more about the details of the case. Your findings should inform your decision on whether to proceed and engage their services.

Final words

Prioritize quality over anything else when choosing an immigration attorney. An experienced immigration lawyer will usually charge more than relatively inexperienced ones.

If other factors check out, you should consider investing in getting an experienced immigration attorney to handle your case. This saves you the stress and extra resources of having to appeal for a rescindment of a denied decision on your application.

About Carson Derrow

My name is Carson Derrow I'm an entrepreneur, professional blogger, and marketer from Arkansas. I've been writing for startups and small businesses since 2012. I share the latest business news, tools, resources, and marketing tips to help startups and small businesses to grow their business.