4 Things To Look for in an Immigration Lawyer

If you’re dealing with immigration issues such as a visa petition, a work authorization permit, removal proceedings or an application for permanent residency or citizenship, you need a good immigration lawyer. Having an immigration attorney on your side can mean the difference between winning and losing your case, but not all immigration lawyers are created equal. A bad attorney can fail to notice and mitigate shortcomings in your case, charge you too much money, and ultimately harm your case.

So how do you find a hard-working immigration lawyer that will fight for your best interests? Before you reach out to potential representation, know what to look for in your future counsel.

1. Language Skills

You need a lawyer you can communicate with easily. This may sound obvious, but too many people struggle through the immigration process without being able to fully communicate with their attorney. A language barrier can jeopardize your case by causing miscommunications and allowing crucial information to fall through the cracks.

If your English language skills do not allow you to thoroughly explain your situation and or the evidence in your case, find an immigration lawyer that speaks your native language or employs aides who can translate. If you speak Spanish, for example, look for Spanish speaking immigration lawyers in IL or wherever you live.

2. Credentials

One of the first things you should do is look into the credentials of any representatives that you’re thinking about hiring. If you want an advocate who can look at the facts of your case and develop a winning plan, you need a real lawyer. Many non-attorney representatives work in the immigration space as immigration consultants, petition preparers or visa advisors.

These individuals vary in legitimacy and the amount of help they provide, but at the end of the day, non-attorneys simply cannot offer the same value as a practicing immigration lawyer. Begin by checking whether candidates have been certified by the State Bar Association. Any additional credentials, such as awards or recognitions, confer extra credibility on an attorney or firm.

3. Experience

Make sure that the law firm you employ has experienced immigration attorneys on staff who regularly handle the specific type of issue you’re facing, whether that’s asylum, visas, green cards, naturalization or family immigration. Lawyers who market themselves as jacks-of-all-trades without particular specialization in immigration law will not be able to provide the same level of expertise as an attorney who regularly helps others in situations similar to yours. The longer a lawyer has been practicing immigration law, the more value they bring to the table.

4. Sound Advice

While most immigration attorneys are hard-working, respectable and ready to represent you to the best of their ability, some make unrealistic promises or offer enticingly low rates to lure in clients without providing valuable services. With so much dependent on the discretion of immigration judges and officials, no attorney can guarantee a positive outcome, even in the strongest of cases.

Be wary of lawyers that gloss over the challenges of your case or make unrealistic promises of success, and if you feel like an attorney isn’t being honest with you, trust your gut. You should also avoid anyone who urges you to lie to immigration officials or do anything that seems questionable. Instead, look for counsel that is realistic about the particulars of your case and offers you a legal strategy to address shortcomings.

There are many practicing lawyers who can help during this difficult time and maximize your chances of success. If you keep these principles in mind, it will be easy to find the right attorney for you.

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