How to find a good immigration lawyer

How do you find a good immigration lawyer?  I get asked that question about attorneys in other areas of law.  My answer for how to find a good immigration lawyer is very similar to how to find a good attorney in other areas of law.

Immigration law can be an extremely complicated area of law.  Some people have the misconception that it’s just filling out forms.  They fail to realize that there is a lot of law behind those forms.  Not knowing the legal issues in your case and how to deal with those issues can have serious consequences.  For example, marking a box incorrectly, or submitting a form that you are not eligible to file, can potentially cause your case to get denied and potentially deported.

To make matters worse, there are many non-lawyers who will take your money, charge high fees, promise you a green card and ultimately get you deported.  Read this recent article in Vice.com for a cautionary tale: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/d334wx/the-scammers-ripping-off-desperate-immigrants-with-fake-legal-advice  Some of these people charge as much as, or more than, an attorney.  You’re far better off going with a licensed US attorney who specializes in immigration law.  When looking for a good immigration attorney, I always recommend to at least check if your lawyer is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Some other things I would check for:

  1. How long has the attorney been practicing immigration law.
  2. Do they practice immigration law exclusively or do they practice other areas of law as well? In my opinion, you should probably avoid an attorney that practices more than two areas of law.  When attorneys start practicing in three or more areas, they tend to not have a good command of immigration law.  This area of law changes constantly.  Don’t trust your case to someone who is not focused in the area.
  3. Do they have experience with your type of immigration matter?
  4. Are they licensed to practice law in the United States?
  5. How involved will they be in your case. Will the attorney hand the case off to a paralegal and never communicate with you again, or will they be available to answer your questions?
  6. Will they respond to your questions in a timely manner?
  7. Do they complete a written agreement with you so that everyone understands what work will be performed for you and what won’t? Also, is the attorney’s flat fee and/or hourly rate listed in the agreement?
  8. Does the attorney have a good reputation with clients and amongst other attorneys? I know that many people look for reviews from satisfied customers online.  It’s fine to look for the reviews, but keep in mind that some companies have fake reviews.  Look at those reviews carefully and decide if they are legitimate.  I still think that the best way to find your immigration attorney is to ask people you know who they use rather than rely on online reviews that you can’t always verify.

You might have other specific things that you are looking for in an attorney.  If you have your own additional requirements, you should seek those out in your attorney.  My list above is only a very basic guideline.  Feel free to comment below about other things that you look for in an immigration attorney.  I would be interested to read your comments.

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