The United States deals with thousands of immigration cases every year. The process is a fairly complicated one. There’s a lot of paperwork and people usually feel overwhelmed. Thankfully, attorneys are there to help you through the entire procedure, helping to interpret the law and explain how to go about things the proper way. However, you may not be sure how to pick one. Here are 10 questions you should ask every immigration lawyer.
- How long have you been practicing law?
This question is extremely important because there is no substitute for experience. Whether your case is a breeze or extremely complicated, you’ll want someone who knows and understands the process. You shouldn’t be afraid of asking any immigration attorney’s background or credentials.
- Do you specialize in immigration law?
Some attorneys handle a wide range of cases and that certainly isn’t what you want. You want an immigration firm that is focused on you and your specific case. Choosing a lawyer is similar to choosing a doctor. You choose the doctor that specializes on your issue. Someone who has a history of success with immigration cases knows how to handle your case and will save you money in the long run.
- Will I work directly with an attorney?
Some law firms are so large that they treat immigration law as a source of cash. Basically, this means your case could be worked by a team of paralegals rather than experienced attorneys. Not only can paralegals not practice law without the proper license, they will not provide you with the same service as a lawyer.
- Are you a member of AILA?
AILA stands for the American Immigration Lawyers Association. It is a national organization for attorneys who practice and specialize in immigration law. Being a member of this organization lets you know if they are up-to-date on United States laws. There is also a chance that members of AILA will represent cases others will not. They are more likely to offer pro bono (free) options, as well.
- How much personal attention will my case get?
Immigration law is a very complex field and requires attention to detail. An attorney who has memorized your file is will find better solutions than one that has not. They will also be able to prepare for any issues your case may experience, which keeps your case on track.
- What is your rate or case estimate?
Before hiring any lawyer or arranging a meeting, you should know what types of payments they accept and the general cost. More experienced attorneys will charge you based on a flat rate, though charging hourly is much more common. Ask for any fees that may also be involved with your case or expenses that may come up.
- What are the possible outcomes of my case?
Experienced immigration lawyers should be able to determine the outcome of your case after discussing some of the details. A knowledgeable attorney will not make promises that they cannot keep. If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Beware of those that make grandiose promises, especially without hearing many details.
- Who is your typical client?
This question is often overlooked but is essential. For example, if your lawyer handles corporate immigration primarily, he or she may not be familiar with individual immigration. This could lead to you not having the best possible defense or advice.
- Have you handled cases similar to mine?
Don’t be embarrassed to ask about the attorney’s track record. Ask how many cases they’ve handled that are similar to yours and delve into the outcomes. Did they win or settle? While you don’t have to ask about their entire history, you have the right to know.
- What is your primary form of communication?
Communicating with your immigration attorney is important. Most lawyers update their clients through the post, but you want to be sure you can contact them through email or phone, if necessary. You’ll want someone that keeps you regularly updated on your case.