The amount of paperwork you have to do to get through an immigration process can be overwhelming. This is especially the case in immigration scenarios that are less than straightforward.
Even in straightforward cases, there are sensible reasons to hire an immigration lawyer. For example if you hit a stop midway into the process, you may need legal assistance to navigate round it. You may also lack the time, skills and confidence required to carefully prepare the requisite forms. These are situations where an immigration lawyer will definitely come in handy.
Hiring the right immigration lawyer, however, requires due diligence on your part. “A good lawyer can be the difference between getting your immigration needs sorted and making things even more complicated” suggests Kate at Nelson & Associates, one of the best immigration lawyers in LA. We take a look at some things you need to do to find a good immigration lawyer.
Seek References from Close Associates
Talk to your friends, family and colleagues to see if they have the contact details of any immigration experts. It doesn’t matter if they have been through immigration or not. They may have come across a competent lawyer or another person that once worked with a competent lawyer. Your circle is a great place to start your search, because many people will recommend a good lawyer with confidence, and also quickly shame any perceived bad apples.
Go to the AILA Website
The AILA website is the online portal for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). The association is a gathering of all lawyers and attorneys that are versed in the practice and teaching of immigration law. Getting a lawyer from here increases your chances of working with a lawyer that actually understands immigration laws and policies.
If you got names of lawyers from your friends and family, you can search through the database to see if they are members. You can also search for lawyers that are members in your region. Bear in mind that immigration lawyers are not under any compulsion to be part of the association. There is also no guarantee that you will be satisfied with the level of service the lawyers here can provide you with. It just should make satisfaction more likely, as you are sourcing from a pool of professionals who have taken the time and effort to get registered.
Fix an Interview for Shortlisted Lawyers
During the interview, your focus should be on finding out if the lawyer has dealt with your type of case in the past. Immigration is a vast legal arena, so you need a lawyer that has reasonable experience dealing with your specific circumstances; or as close as possible to them. Some lawyers will refer you to past clients. Contact these clients to get an opinion on the quality of service delivered the lawyer.
Do you prefer a flat fee or an hourly rate? Ask the lawyer of any possible additional costs like postage, courier fees, long distance charges, letter writing, court attendance and so on. Immigration cases can run for as long as 4 years so, ideally, you want to have an idea of the financial commitment you are entering into.
Run a Background Check
After you have found a lawyer you can comfortably work with, the next thing to do is to confirm they are licensed and have not been involved in any serious disciplinary actions in the past. Only when you are satisfied with these records should you sign any contracts with them.