Moving to the United States involves dealing with many procedures and paperwork. Whether the procedure will be shortened or prolonged and if you’ll be successful with the immigration process depends on what you do and don’t do. In most cases, it’s best if an immigration lawyer helps you out.
Finding an immigration lawyer to help you out can be daunting since you are new to the area. For example, if you’re in or moving to Louisiana, acquainting yourself with Louisiana immigration attorneys is a good start.
Before choosing a lawyer to help with your immigration process, it’s best you know and are confident in the lawyer’s ability to be successful with it. Therefore, there are things you must ask your prospective immigration lawyer.
Read on to find out!
Questions to ask an immigration lawyer
As an immigrant in the United States, you should have a reliable immigration lawyer you can rely on and turn to whenever you have immigration issues. However, you don’t find a good lawyer by randomly handpicking anyone you find.
You need to find the right immigration lawyer to have a successful stay in the United States. Therefore, you should ask the immigration attorneys you meet the following questions:
• Do you belong to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)?
Before you hire a lawyer, you should check whether they are a member of the American immigration lawyers association. That way, you can tell whether that’s the aspect of law they specialize in and if they’re up to date with immigration law’s new developments and best practices since they change often.
It’s best if you hire a lawyer who’s a member of AILA. However, if the lawyer isn’t, you can ask them follow-up questions about other organizations they’re a member of and if there have been any recent developments in immigration law relating to your case.
• Are you a member of the State Bar association?
Immigration laws are strictly federal and practiced the same throughout the country, making the lawyer’s location irrelevant. However, if you have to appear before the local USCIS district or local immigration judges, you need to get a local lawyer within the state.
A local lawyer will understand state policies better than out-of-state lawyers, and they’ll help you through the process easier.
• Have you handled cases similar to mine, and what were the outcomes?
Immigration cases are diverse, and an experienced lawyer in this field and their associates would have encountered a case similar to yours. It is very important to learn about the lawyer’s track record and how they handled the case.
Let them share their experiences with such cases and the outcomes they got. That will give you an insight into the possibilities in your case and the lawyer’s competency.
• What’s your experience in immigration law?
In most cases, nothing beats experience. Hence, you need to ask your prospective immigration lawyer how experienced they are in immigration law. If they have practiced it for a long period, they can more easily navigate the system than someone who is just starting out.
• What’s the winning strategy for my case?
After confirming the experience of your prospective immigration lawyer, you can then explain your case to them. Ask the lawyer about their proposed strategy for winning your case, which should include actions to take, the timeline, and possible outcomes.
An experienced lawyer would’ve probably handled a case similar to yours in the past and, therefore, would know how to handle your case and tell you the possible outcomes of your case. They will also fine-tune the strategy so you get the best possible outcome.
• What are my prospects for success?
Knowing whether your case will be successful will give you some sort of assurance or let you start planning other favorable alternatives. With their experience, the lawyer should be able to tell you how much of a shot you have and be honest and truthful about it.
While there are no guaranteed outcomes, an experienced immigration lawyer should have a clue of how your case will turn out. You can also confirm that by checking their track record, so you know they are not feeding you with false hope.
• How much will it cost for you to represent me?
Before the lawyer starts working on your case, you need to be clear on the cost. Ask about the retainer fee, the lawyer’s hourly rate, and how often they’ll bill you.
You also need to ask about immigration document fees that you’ll need to pay. Ask whether you will be charged for copies, emails, or leaving messages since it requires the lawyer’s resources.
• Are you available to take on my case now?
Experienced immigration lawyers will most likely have many cases to handle. You need to ensure they’ll have time to handle your case and give it the required attention.
Ask them about the expected timeline to execute and complete your case. You should hire someone ready to devote time and experience to win your case.
• Will there be a written contract?
You need to highlight your responsibilities and expectations for yourself and the lawyer you pick. You can have a written contract with your lawyer, so you both can hold your side of the bargain.
The contract will contain fees, payment terms, what the attorney will do, and more. You should hold on to the contract even after the case is over.
• Who will represent me?
In case you’re dealing with a law firm, you need to ask who will represent you and how you’ll communicate with the lawyer.
• What actions and procedures will you take on my behalf?
Before leaving the lawyer’s office, you need to be clear on the actions and procedures they’ll take on your behalf. Ask which paperwork will be completed and submitted for you and who will attend interviews and hearings.
This is important to avoid misunderstandings, and it better reinforces the timeline and plan for the case.
With many immigration attorneys practicing the law, you need to pick the best lawyer to help with your case. The lawyer you choose will to an extent, determine the outcome of your case.
Ensure the lawyer you eventually hire is experienced and has worked on a case similar to yours. Finally, they should be free enough to focus on winning your case.