What are immigration lawyers, and what do they do?
Immigration lawyers advise undocumented immigrants on how to remain in the United States legally. They also help immigrants with citizenship, permanent resident status, and temporary visas. Some of these visas include work visas (H-1B), education-based Immigration (F-1 or M-1), and political asylum.
Immigration lawyers can also refer you to social service agencies if they think it’s best for your case. They can help immigrants fill out paperwork and speak with anyone who needs to be involved with the client’s case.
If your immigration lawyer cannot get you legal status or a visa, they will tell you that upfront and then help you find other ways to stay in the country legally.
What are the types of immigration lawyers?
There are several different types of immigration lawyers out there, each servicing a specific kind of client. Depending on whom you need, your circumstances may require you to hire many of these types, all with vastly different fees and specialties. Typical categories include:
- Business Immigration Lawyers – These attorneys specialize in obtaining visas for foreign employees working in the United States. These visas can be viewed as “non-immigrant” (usually a temporary/seasonal or permanent/quasi-permanent visa) depending on the situation. These include athlete visas, investor/entrepreneur visas, and even business owner visas, among many others.
- Family Immigration Lawyers – While not all immigration lawyers handle family visas, many specialize in helping people obtain green cards and even citizenship through their spouses.
- Employment-Based Immigration Lawyers – These lawyers handle the particular requirements for obtaining a green card based on employment (the most common route to permanent residency). Those looking to work for an employer who can sponsor them might need one of these types of attorneys.
- Student Immigration Lawyers – If you are looking to study outside of the country who needs an F-1 visa or J-1 visas, or if you are looking to attend school in the United States on an M-1 visa, then one of these attorneys can help. These types of tickets are usually issued for certain specialties such as vocational schools or medical training.
How to hire an immigration lawyer?
There are not any hard and fast rules regarding the process of hiring an immigration lawyer. Many prospective clients get confused between a criminal defense lawyer and a non-criminal one. This is where you need to be careful about and get things right at the first opportunity.
When to hire—you must have some immigration issue that needs to be addressed.
What type of attorney—you must understand who is best suited for your specific case. For example, were you skilled in marriage-based Immigration, family-based Immigration, business visas, and similar matters?
Where to look—attorneys are not equally experienced and competent. So you need to find a good one with the required experience.
How to talk with your lawyer—you are paying for the services, and you must not be afraid to ask all your questions till you feel comfortable with what needs to be done. The more transparent the attorney is in explaining things, the better it will be for you in the long run if they are representing you in court.
What to consider when hiring an immigration attorney? Education and experience specialized in the type of case you have, communication skills, previous work record, and rates… All of these factors must be considered before making a final decision. Of course, you will also need to make sure that the state bar association licenses your lawyer to avoid any complications.
The lawyer should have at least a minimum of five (5) years of experience practicing immigration law, not just two or three. In addition to this, they must be actively servicing their clients during the duration of those five (5) years and not just sitting behind a desk handling routine matters for their firm.
Remember, if your case involves an appeal after a deportation order or a family-based immigration petition (marriage, divorce, etc.), you should probably ask for the opinion of another attorney. That’s because those matters are subject to special rules regarding how an attorney should handle them. And some attorneys will not allow their staff to handle those cases.
Make sure that your immigration lawyer is or can be licensed in the state where you will have your court hearing. Some states do not recognize out-of-state lawyers, and they will insist on a local one.
All of these things need to be considered when looking for an immigration lawyer. If you don’t research the attorney you plan to hire, then you could wind up with someone incompetent or not trustworthy.
And don’t forget that your case can take a long time if things aren’t handled correctly from the start. That means you need to be sure about everything before it’s too late… Do your homework and choose a reasonable attorney!
What are the common types of cases handled by immigration lawyers?
Immigration lawyers in the U.S. deal with various types of cases. These include family-based Immigration, employment-based Immigration, and legalization (or adjustment of status) under programs like DACA.
- Family-based Immigration
You can be legalized if you are a spouse or unmarried child of a U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident. It is not an easy process. You have to go through an extensive screening process, and your case will be approved only if you can prove that you are eligible. The U.S. government does not allow the Immigration of adults based on their children alone.
- Employment-based Immigration
If the petition for family-based Immigration is denied or you don’t have any relatives in the U.S., you can still get legalization by applying for employment-based Immigration. Employment-based Immigration is divided into various categories like H1B, L1, and EB5, etc.
- DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)
In 2012, the Barack Obama administration introduced a program called DACA or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. If you are a resident of the U.S. and arrived at the country as an undocumented immigrant or have overstayed the visa, you can apply for DACA. As part of this program, your status in the country will be legalized for two years, starting from 2012 to 2014. You can also apply for renewal after the completion of two years. As of now, an extension has been granted for this program until 2018.
- Legalization (Adjustment of Status)
You can apply for adjustment under the following categories: Family-based Immigration Employment-based Immigration.
USCIS processes all these applications, and if you are applying based on employment, it will be processed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
What are the pros and cons of hiring an immigration lawyer?
Hiring an attorney will allow you to have more time to focus on the future of your family, as well as save money and stress.
An experienced lawyer should handle everything for you, from filing paperwork and making important phone calls to pushing your application through the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service.
Below are a few more reasons why hiring an immigration lawyer is a good idea:
You will save time and stress by having your application filed correctly the first time around. You can save money on your immigration application by hiring an attorney to help. In some cases, you may be forced to hire an attorney for your application process. An immigration lawyer can help you and your family become legal citizens faster with less stress. Immigrating to the United States is not easy and involves plenty of paperwork that can be confusing to fill out yourself unless you are very familiar with the U.S. immigration system. You will be able to focus on your family’s future by hiring an attorney to handle your immigration paperwork for you and save money and time in the process.
One of the cons is that if a non-U.S. citizen has immigration issues, the person may not know what to do or handle themselves properly to be granted entrance into the United States.
Another issue with hiring an attorney is that they can be costly; immigration attorneys have different prices depending on where you live in the U.S. and what state you are a citizen of, but the average cost is $500-$800 for an immigration attorney that has only practiced immigration law; this price could double or even triple depending on the attorney’s experience in handling many different cases involving citizenship and residency.
For more information, you may ask or consult with Houston immigration lawyers.