17 Oct 3 FAQs About Immigration Lawyers
You hear a lot about immigration law on television. Despite recent press, immigration law has helped people enter the U.S. from every country around the world since its founding. In fact, over 60% of U.S. immigrants have lived here for at least 15 years.
Immigration law is a practice area that falls under the general field of administrative law. Administrative lawyers practice primarily in front of government agencies, like U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (or USCIS). In a broad sense, the day-to-day practice of immigration lawyers is not dissimilar from the day-to-day practice of lawyers in other fields of administrative law, such as tax lawyers, bankruptcy lawyers, or patent lawyers. These types of lawyers deal with laws and regulations that are executed and enforced by a governmental agency and adjudicated in specialized tribunals that fall outside the judicial system called Article I courts.
Here are three FAQs about immigration lawyers and how to find a good immigration lawyer:
Who Needs An Immigration Lawyer?
There are many types of immigration clients:
- Businesses: When businesses need workers from outside the country, particularly those who have special skills, education, or experience, they usually work with immigration lawyers to obtain the necessary visa for that worker to join the business. Businesses are also allowed to seek visas to transfer non-U.S. citizens who have worked with a non-U.S. branch, subsidiary, or parent company of the business to work in the U.S.
- Educators and educational institutions: Professors and researchers who have an advanced degree or extraordinary ability in science, education, or business can obtain a visa to enter the U.S.
- Entertainers and athletes: There are various visa categories that allow actors, artists, musicians, and athletes to enter the U.S. for work or specific performances and competitions.
- Religious workers: Non-U.S. citizens who are coming to the U.S. to work for a non-profit religious group can obtain a visa to enter legally.
- Individuals: Those who do not fall into one of the special categories can also apply for a visa to visit, reside while working temporarily or obtaining an education, or permanently immigrate to the U.S.
How Do I Find A Good Immigration Lawyer?
The typical first step for how to find a good immigration lawyer is to talk to friends, family, and employers and receive a referral or recommendation. For most lawyers, former and current clients are their best source of new business. If you know someone who has worked with an immigration lawyer, ask who they used and whether they would use the lawyer again.
Another step for how to find a good immigration lawyer is to look for professional ratings and client reviews. Many legal websites and magazines publish lists of highly respected lawyers in various practice areas. These lists are often based on ratings or nominations from other lawyers. In other words, these are usually compiled by those in a position to judge the quality of a lawyer’s skills.
Also, there are a number of review sites that compile and score client reviews and publish reviews online. These review scores are readily available, but beware of these reviews because there is no guarantee that they were submitted by clients and not opposing parties or others with an ax to grind.
Yet another step for how to find a good immigration lawyer is to contact your state bar association. The State Bar of California, for example, maintains a list of certified lawyer referral services that listen to your story and matches you with a lawyer.
Why Do You Need An Immigration Lawyer?
Immigration lawyers have experience and knowledge in immigration law. Whether you, your family member, or your employees need a visa, have received a notice to appear in immigration court, or have been detained, an immigration lawyer can:
- Provide advice and counsel
- Prepare and file applications and other papers
- Appear in immigration court
- Advocate for your position
- Watch for violations of your rights
When you retain an immigration lawyer, he or she will listen to your story, identify the issues raised, and recommend a course of action. Every case is unique, so you should not assume that you can get by on following what someone else did.
Immigration lawyers practice immigration law because they know it and are passionate about it. Finding an immigration lawyer to help with your case is often a very smart move.