Has your visa expired? Do you need to bring a worker with specialized talent from a country overseas? is your family attempting to flee a dangerous regime?
Have you been delayed unnecessarily at the airport? Are immigration and customs officials treating you abusively?
You need an experienced immigration lawyer.
U.S. immigration policies have tightened up and changed a great deal under the current administration. More and more people seeking to come to or stay in the United States have questions and concerns, but they are often afraid to divulge their immigration status. How can you find a lawyer you can trust?
Here are six questions to consider if you want to know how to find a good immigration lawyer for your specific issue.
1. Do They Have Experience in Immigration Court?
Immigration court has different procedures than other forums, so an immigration attorney should have specific experience representing clients in immigration court. They need to know the specific processes for asylum claims, visa extensions, and deportation hearings.
Immigration judges have certain powers, but they lack some of the authority that federal judges have. A good immigration lawyer needs to know how to handle the special challenges of this courtroom.
They must also be good at navigating the huge problem of backlog, which is slowing down immigration processes all over the country.
If you have employment concerns, such as getting visas for people who work for you, you may not require a litigator to go to immigration court. However, if you have a relative in danger of being removed from the country, you need to find them someone who knows how to advocate for them in court.
2. What Languages Do They Speak?
Your immigration lawyer needs to understand you, and you need to understand them as well. Communication is key to adequate representation.
Your lawyer may need to explain complex legal issues to you. They may need to get your signature on binding legal documents. You need to be able to trust they understand you and your wishes.
Interview a potential legal representative before you retain them. You will get a sense of how well they understand your needs, You will also get a good sense of their approach to cases like yours, and if you can have confidence in their abilities.
Some immigration lawyers speak only English and Spanish, or English and Arabic. Because there are often various local dialects, see if they have access to reliable translators as well.
3. Who Else Do They Represent?
A look at an immigration lawyer’s website should give you a good sense of who they represent. Corporate immigration lawyers often are part of large firms that assist companies with immigration issues like visas for high-level executives. They often charge high hourly rates.
Other immigration lawyers focus on representing families seeking citizenship in the United States or fighting deportation. They may be members of advocacy groups that work with people unable to pay high lawyer bills. They may also be involved with working to change the laws to make immigration easier for citizens of other countries.
Word-of-mouth is often the best way to discover an attorney who is right for you. If you have had family or friends facing similar challenges, ask them who helped them.
If you speak with a potential advocate, ask them if you can speak to their previous clients. You can talk to others whom they have worked with and assess whether you feel like they are the right representative for you or your loved one.
4. Do They Have Good Relationships in the Community?
Previous clients can often help you assess the attorney’s reputation in their community. Looks for indications that they sponsor community groups, attend town councils, or otherwise are involved in causes that pertain to you and others in your predicament.
You can also see what professional associations they are involved in, and where they have worked, Many immigration lawyers have worked with government offices dealing with immigrants, or nonprofits dedicated to helping immigrant communities.
They may have interned for judges or lawyers in the field before starting their own practices. This means they will have helpful relationships with others in the legal community which can be beneficial to your case.
It’s ideal to have an immigration lawyer who has a good reputation in the court where your matter will be hard. A good lawyer will be able to vouch for their client in a trustworthy manner. They will be better equipped to persuade the judge of their argument if the judge knows that they are an upstanding professional.
5. Have They Helped People Like You?
If you are a child’s aunt and you are trying to gain custody of them while they wait at the country’s border, you need someone who has reunited separated families. If you were picked up for a minor criminal offense that threatens your immigration status, you need an immigration lawyer with experience negotiating plea deals and preventing deportation.
The most important criteria for hiring a lawyer should be their track record in working for people like you. You will want to hear concrete examples of how they helped people in your situation. You will want to know how they do it and why they think they can succeed on your behalf.
6. Are They Accessible and Responsive?
Some immigration matters arise without warning in the middle of the night. Sometimes people are stopped at airports trying to enter the country. Sometimes people are taken into custody unexpectedly.
You must be able to reach your immigration lawyer if there is an unexpected emergency. Ask them about how to contact them if you need them outside of business hours.
Immigration Lawyer: Choosing the Right One for You
Your immigration lawyer can be an invaluable resource in navigating this complicated and politically fraught area. Make sure you find someone who understands your challenges and has a good track record in helping others like you.
For more information on navigating the complex immigration situation with the United States, keep checking back.