Tips & Advice
How long can I expect to need an immigration lawyer?
Some immigration processes can take months or even years to resolve. USCIS posts an online list for each field office that shows current processing times for common applications, such as ones for permanent residency, citizenship and proof of citizenship. These estimates provide a sense of the current backlog. An immigration attorney will usually monitor these timelines for you and communicate any updates.
What documents might an immigration attorney need from me?
An immigration lawyer might request copies of numerous documents, including a birth certificate, passport, letters from employers, proofs of address, income tax returns and photos/correspondence with family (if you are applying for an immigration benefit via a spouse or family member).
Will an immigration attorney accompany me to a USCIS interview?
Yes, if you want them to. While an attorney cannot directly answer a USCIS agent’s questions, he or she can provide support and clarification during the interview. Having an attorney present is generally a good idea if you are involved in a complex immigration case.
Should I negotiate immigration attorney fees ahead of time?
Yes, for applications such as an adjustment of status (for example, going from a tourist visa to a green card) and citizenship, it is usually a good idea to agree upon a fixed rate that covers all paperwork and responses to evidence requests. This can save you money compared to an rate based on billable hours.
How much does it cost to hire an immigration attorney?
Fee schedules vary significantly depending on the case type. Immigration lawyers usually charge for both the required application fees from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and for their services. Longer, more complex cases such as deportation defenses are more expensive than simpler matters like completing a citizenship application.
What professional distinctions exist for immigration attorneys?
Professional groups such as the American Immigration Lawyers Association and The National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, as well as state bar associations, confer distinctions for immigration lawyers.
What should I look for when selecting an immigration attorney?
An immigration lawyer should have a law degree from a school accredited by the American Bar Association and be in good standing with his or her state bar association. Membership in the American Immigration Lawyers Association is also a good sign of a lawyer’s quality.
When should I retain an immigration attorney?
Due to the complexity of U.S. immigration law, anyone seeking to obtain a visa should retain an immigration lawyer. An immigration lawyer is also essential when seeking relief from deportation or removal proceedings.
What kinds of cases does an immigration attorney take?
Immigration attorneys can take on many different cases, including applications for:
- Temporary visas, such as work visas or transit visas for visiting certain countries.
- Permanent visas, such as work- or family-based green card petitions for permanent residency.
- Naturalization for eligible aliens.
They also represent clients in deportation or removal case, and generally help with the processing of complex immigration forms and applications.
What does an immigration attorney do?
Immigration attorneys help clients navigate federal immigration laws, which govern who is classified as alien, what rights are available to aliens, and who is eligible to be naturalized as a citizen.