An immigration attorney can offer invaluable services to people who require help with a visa or green card application, employment or labor certification, or with court proceedings such as a deportation hearing.
There’s no argument that U.S. immigration laws are particularly complex and even a small mistake within a visa application or whilst providing evidence during the green card process may lead to many years of delay or possibly even denial and deportation. Oftentimes, hiring an immigration attorney can save time, inconvenience, and also money.
A U.S. immigration attorney is an independent practitioner and because U.S. immigration laws are federal, it means that you at liberty to engage the services of an attorney in any U.S. state, irrespective you are currently resident within the country or otherwise.
When you Should Seek the Help of an Immigration Attorney
You should certainly consult with an immigration attorney when:
- There is some uncertainty with respect to your eligibility for an immigration benefit such as a green card.
- You are experiencing difficulty in obtaining citizenship, a USCIS green card, or other immigration benefit.
- You are in the process of requesting discretionary relief, for example asylum or a waiver, whereby it involves the persuasion of immigration authorities into making an exception or offering you benefits that may not be offered to applicants who do not utilize the services of an attorney.
- You’ve already been notified that a removal litigation or deportation has been started against you.
- You are in need of emergency aid with respect to a matter of immigration.
- Your immigration application has previously been denied or refused.
- You’ve been deported and you wish to make an application to return to the U.S.
- Your employer has invited you to relocate to the U.S. but have not offered any assistance with the immigration process.
- You have either committed a criminal act or been convicted of a criminal offence and are either trying to protect yourself from removal or you are attempting to enter the U.S.
- You wish to apply for a visa which is investment-based.
- You are confused by the immigration application process or you sense that it will take too much time to complete without seeking professional help.
Though this list is rather extensive, there are many other reasons why you might wish to consult with an immigration attorney.
What you can Expect during the Initial Meeting and Beyond
The majority of immigration attorneys charge a flat fee which is generally around $100 (though some do offer free initial consultation) for the first meeting. In this introductory meeting, the attorney will ask you about your issue and will then tell you if they are able to afford assistance.
It’s prudent to arrange a preliminary meeting with more than a single attorney prior to selecting one to represent you.
Do take any personal documents that may relate to your situation. This might include your passport, marriage certificate, visa/s, any records of criminal offences, I-94, and notices received from immigration authorities. After answering questions, the attorney will inform you about any other necessary documents you require and will provide advice on how you ought to proceed.
Immigration attorneys tend to have a flat-fee structure for general cases; for example, when assistance is needed during the application process for a green card. On the other hand, for less predictable cases, such as immigration-focused court hearings, the attorney is likely to charge based on an hourly rate.
Always be prepared to provide as much information as you can. This way you are more likely to avoid any unpleasant surprises at a later date. By law, an attorney is duty-bound to maintain your information confidentially, so you can rest-assured that everything you discuss will be held in the strictest of confidence.