Approximately one million people legally immigrate to the U.S. every year. 60% of those are “change of status” immigrants who are already in the U.S. As a result, demand for quality immigration help is high.
Immigrants can’t afford to accept just any legal advice, however. The consequences of failure are high. You can be sent back home with little recourse and not much chance of being admitted again.
Fortunately, it’s possible to find a reputable immigration law firm in the U.S. Here are the steps you should take.
Ask a Lot of Questions
Before you agree to work with an immigration law firm, be sure to ask a lot of questions. Research is vital in making the right choice.
For American immigration, is the lawyer:
- Listed with the state bar association?
- A member of the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association (AILA)
- Someone who has been in business a long time with a good track record
- Offering a free consultation?
- Specialized in immigration from your country of origin?
- Prepared with a contract that outlines services and fees?
- Willing to answer all of your questions without dismissing them or being evasive?
- Ready to sign immigration paperwork as your representative?
When you do your research, you’ll be well on your way to finding the information you need. Some of the information will be listed on a website. Verhaeghe Law Office helps people looking to immigrate to Canada, for instance.
In the end, however, be sure you talk to a lawyer in person and listen to your gut.
Know Who to Avoid
Generally, professionals who approach you at an immigration office and offer help are not reputable. They are taking advantage of desperate foreigners who are looking for immediate relief.
It’s important to avoid folks who don’t have an actual law degree. You don’t need legal help from someone who doesn’t fully understand the law or consequences of immigration rulings. As a result, avoid folks who are “consultants,” “petition preparers,” or otherwise not a lawyer.
Finally, stay far away from any professional who offers shortcuts or suggests a shady action. People have been advised to lie on applications, bribe authorities, and more. These actions won’t help and may keep you from ever being able to immigrate.
Stay Away from Scams
Unfortunately, desperate or fearful immigrants are often targets for scammers. A scammer may make false promises, steal money from you, or get you in significant legal trouble.
Be Careful About Kinship
The fact that someone is from your country or speaks your language does not mean they are on your side. Sometimes scammers look for folks of their own nationality in order to prey on them.
This warning applies to recommendations from friends and family as well. While recommendations are excellent in combination with thorough research, never make a decision on emotion alone.
A reputable immigration law firm will have qualified, experienced lawyers on staff. Don’t work with anyone else.
Make Sure They Will Sign the Paperwork
If someone wants to work with you, ask if they will be signing the immigration paperwork as your representative. Never give money to, or trust someone, who isn’t willing to do this.
If someone won’t sign the paperwork or assures you that someone else will take care of that piece, they may be a scammer. At best, they are properly authorized to help you. At worst, they plan to take your money and never help you with your case.
Never Wire Money
You never want to make a payment through a private money transfer. It’s also important to avoid depositing into a personal bank account or sending money through an unknown company.
Unfortunately, scammers may try to convince you that this is the way things are done in your new country. They may claim to have “inside connections” in immigration that can help you.
These are lies, and you may end up losing a lot of money. You may also end up in legal trouble in your new country, and lose your chance to immigrate at all.
Finding a Reputable Immigration Law Firm
The key to your immigration case is making sure you find a true professional who can help you. You should be comfortable with them and able to afford their fees.
Be sure to interview several lawyers to get a feel for what you’re comfortable with. Don’t feel pressured to use the same attorney your friends or family hired. Instead, find someone that works well for you.
Ask the lawyers you meet with what they think about your case and what outcomes are possible. Find out if they have experience with other cases like yours.
Finally, ask about a timeline for your case. Be sure you understand what you can expect, how long everything will take, and what you should do along the way.
A great immigration law firm will put you at ease. They will be busy with similar cases, but still easy to communicate with. Most of all, they will have proper certification and be true professionals.
Get Started Today!
The best place to start looking for an immigration law firm is online. You certainly can’t trust everything you see on the internet, but it’s a great starting point.
We can help you narrow down your search. Look for immigration lawyers in your area, and find the specialties that matter most to you.
We also have an extensive blog with more information about how to find professionals in every area. Take a look at our recent posts and let us know if we can do anything to help!