Getting Started with an Immigration Attorney

Learn the Basics about an Immigration Attorney, the Services they Provide, as well as examples of Fees, Costs, and Tips for Choosing one.

There are innumerable immigration cases that find the need for legal representation, such as an impending court deportation proceeding or the more common legal cases faced by aspiring immigrants and being declared inadmissible by the USCIS or the consulate. USCIS stands for The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and enforces inherently complex immigration laws. Being represented by an immigration attorney may allow you to skip the countless late nights of studying and researching on particular legal topics that encompass your current situation and can simply save you a ton of time and effort.

Services Offered by an Immigration Attorney

Immigration attorneys can provide services beyond assisting immigrants in becoming citizens of new countries. If need be, they can also defend immigration cases and prevent the subject from being deported to another country, usually in his/her country of origin. Furthermore, it is important to know when you may need an immigration attorney that can help you gather pertinent paperwork and crucial documentation required to become a citizen. When applying for citizenship through naturalization, your attorney can assist you with the citizenship tests that you will be asked to complete and pass. Other situations you may need to consult a professional firm that specializes in immigration law include:

  • Uncertainty regarding Green Card eligibility or other immigration benefits
  • Difficulty obtaining USCIS Green Card or other immigration benefits
  • Recent deportation from the US and desire to submit an application for return
  • Conviction of a criminal offense and is trying to reenter into the country or avoid deportation from the country
  • Moving to the US for work but employer has not helped you with the immigration process

Cost of Immigration Services

Most immigration attorneys will set up an in-person meeting or consultation for free or for a low flat rate of about $100 to discuss how he/she can help with your particular situation. Preferably, you should meet with more than one candidate before making your final decision. If you wish to immigrate to the US as a legal permanent resident, there is a $165 immigrant fee charged by the USCIS. Some groups are exempt from the fee including children who enter the US under an orphanage or adoption program, special immigrants coming from Iraq and Afghanistan,and K-classified non-immigrants. The fee can be paid via USCIS’ Electronic Immigration System, which is accessed through a compatible internet browser like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge. Other legal services that may stem from immigration cases include citizenship via naturalization application fees, which range anywhere between $500 to $1,500, and employment-based applications that average around $3,000.

Why Hiring an Immigration Attorney is Important

As mentioned earlier, immigration laws and policies are notoriously complex and continuously changing. Compliance in every phase of the process is imperative to avoid delaying your immigration application approval and status or getting rejected. In countries like the US, citizenship usually takes five to seven years while other special cases may take more time. Furthermore, over the past decade, there has been a strengthening trend towards detention and deportation of certain groups of immigrants including non-US citizens bearing minor criminal records or those who have been living in the US illegally for some time. Each situation bears unique and sensitive issues for future immigrants and necessitates thorough analysis and field mastery.

Choosing the Right Immigration Attorney

Picking an immigration attorney blindly can lead to average or terrible immigration case representation. To ensure that you choose a knowledgeable attorney , secure a referral from trusted sources like an employer or colleague who have used the services of an immigrant attorney in the past.

Aside from references, conduct your own research. Factors to consider when looking for ┬áthe right immigration attorney include their native language, years of experience in handling immigration cases, service fees, availability, and of course how many cases they’ve won. Speaking the same language is important for fluid communication between you and your attorney as you want to make sure both parties are on the same page and working towards the same set of objectives. Being available whenever their advice is needed is equally important.

Lastly, make sure you are comfortable with your attorney. Immigration applications and visas are only the initial phases of building your residence or business in the US. This means that you will likely be dealing with the USCIS or other agencies again, which ultimately leads to the need for future legal services. Establishing a rapport with your immigration attorney now is important and will allow you to work together on future USCIS issues without any misunderstandings that may obstruct accurate analysis and resolution of any immigration  problems.