U.S. immigration laws can be complex, especially if you are trying to handle your case alone. Whether you’re trying to become a permanent citizen or would like permission to live and work in the United States temporarily, you will have a better chance at winning your case if you hire an immigration lawyer. Read on to learn how to find an immigration lawyer that you and your family can trust.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to be legal advice. Contact the Arizona Legal Center to learn more about U.S. immigration issues. Note that when you first contact the Arizona Legal Center, a law student (and not a practicing attorney) will handle your intake.
What to look for when hiring an Arizona immigration lawyer
In 2016, almost 1.5 million foreign-born people moved to the United States with different goals and desires, and under many different situations. In all, over 43 million immigrants currently live in the United States.
Maybe you’re trying to get your green card, request a work visa, or become a citizen. Or maybe you have questions about one of many other immigration topics. The first step is to talk with an immigration lawyer. Here are a few tips for how to start your search.
Find an immigration lawyer who is part of the AILA
If you’re still in the early stages of searching for an immigration lawyer, a great place to start is the American Immigration Lawyers Association, also known as AILA.
It is the only legal association in the United States with 15,000 attorneys who focus on immigration. Members must take continuing education classes every year, so they know about recent changes in U.S. law. This is important because immigration guidelines change often.
Look for a lawyer with a focus on your type of case
You may also want to find a lawyer with specific experience that matches your needs.
For example, a case dealing with deportation or removal from the United States may require a different approach than a case about getting a visa. Depending on your unique situation, it can be helpful to have a focused plan of action.
Interview more than one immigration lawyer
If possible, try to interview several lawyers before making a decision. Study their websites and read through testimonials or referrals from past clients. Were other people in similar situations happy with how the lawyer helped with their cases?
Immigration issues can be stressful and emotional for you and the people you love. You deserve to have a lawyer you trust.
5 immigration consultation questions to ask
Once you have found a lawyer, you will usually schedule an initial consult. These are designed to answer any questions you have. Here are some questions you should ask during your initial visit.
1. How many cases have you handled that are similar to mine?
As noted, immigration cases can vary greatly depending on the situation. For this reason, it’s helpful to have a lawyer who has worked with people in similar circumstances.
Ask about the strategies used in those cases and whether the same approach could work for you.
2. What are my chances of success?
This is an important question. While no lawyer can guarantee that a case will go in your favor, they should be able to give you an idea of whether or not you have a good chance of a successful outcome.
A trustworthy lawyer will be able to tell you what could help your case and what could hurt it, while also giving you the guidance to strengthen your case.
3. How long will it take to finish my case?
Immigration cases typically don’t resolve quickly. It’s important to be realistic about how long your specific case will take to move through the U.S. immigration process.
Your lawyer should be able to create a plan of action that will give you a tentative timeline. This will help you and your family know what to expect, so you can plan for what lies ahead.
4. Will you be the main lawyer handling my case?
Immigration is a busy business. Millions of non-U.S. citizens deal with immigration-related issues every year. A good immigration lawyer may have a lot of clients to manage at one time, so it’s important to know who else will work on your case.
For example, if there are other lawyers or legal assistants who will be involved, who will be your best point of contact for questions and concerns going forward? This will be important to know if any issues arise.
5. How much will your services cost?
Attorney fees can add up quickly, which means you need a general idea of how much you will need to pay. This will protect you from being caught off guard by bills you can’t afford.
Ask about any agreements or contracts you must sign, initial deposits, and if payment options are available.
What to bring to an immigration lawyer
It’s important to be prepared for your first consult with an immigration lawyer. Bring any forms the lawyer asked you to complete. These will usually include basic information, such as name, date of birth, and address. In addition, you should bring or send ahead copies of all documents related to your immigration case.
These may include:
- Your birth certificate
- Past or present visas and/or visa applications
- Documents you were given when you entered the United States
- Letters from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
If you have a criminal record, you should bring all related police reports and court documents. You must be open and honest about any arrests, even if they no longer appear on your record. Keeping your lawyer fully informed is important.
It’s also a good idea to bring this list of immigration consultation questions that you want to ask, so you don’t forget anything.
Get help with your immigration case
Finding an Arizona immigration lawyer you trust will reduce your stress and greatly improve your chances of a successful outcome. While the Arizona Legal Center generally doesn’t undertake cases, we do provide free legal aid regarding general immigration issues and may be able to connect you with local immigration lawyers.
If you need help finding an Arizona immigration lawyer or want to know more about how to prepare for your first consult with an immigration lawyer, contact us today. We’re here to help.
Disclaimer: The Arizona Legal Center provides free legal aid and consultations in Arizona only. We provide low-cost access to fee-for-service cases when determined appropriate by an attorney at the Center, but generally do not undertake full-scope representation.