If you are planning to immigrate to the United States (US), then you should consider consulting with an immigration lawyer.
An immigration lawyer will help you solve possible issues or any dispute arising between you and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). For example, filing of paperwork or any possible appeals
This article provides a summary of the important questions that one should ask an immigration lawyer during the initial consultation/meeting.
Additionally, the article also informs the reader on how to prepare for the initial consultation with their potential immigration attorney.
What is an Immigration Lawyer?
An immigration lawyer is a legal professional who specializes in substantial and procedural immigration law and can assist you with various immigration issues, such as applications for visas, green cards, citizenship, asylum, or deportation defense.
If you are based in the US, you need to hire an immigration lawyer.
The reason is that the body of immigration law is second only to US tax law in its complexity.
Immigration law is a complex and dynamic field that involves federal statutes, regulations, court decisions, and administrative policies.
Therefore, this means that people who do not engage immigration lawyers will likely face difficulties when making any applications or appealing decisions made by the USCIS.
What does an immigration lawyer do?
However, not all immigration lawyers are the same. As they all have their specific niche.
Immigration lawyers will handle several issues such as:
- Immigration to the US
- Family immigration to the US
- Green Card Application
- Citizenship Application
- Application for Asylum and Refugee status
- Visa renewal and application
- Prevention of deportation or removal from the US
- Starting a business in the US as a foreigner
Therefore, it is important to look for an immigration lawyer who is a specialist in the issues you want solved. For example, if you need a visa renewal, then it is important to look for an immigration lawyer who is experienced in matters regarding visa renewals.
Generally, immigration lawyers can help you understand your rights and obligations as an immigrant, and guide you through the immigration process.
An immigration lawyer can also represent you in immigration court or before immigration agencies, such as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), or the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).
Do Immigration Lawyers Charge for the Initial Meeting?
The answer to this question depends on the immigration lawyer and the type of service that you need.
Some immigration lawyers offer free initial consultations, while others charge a fee.
The fee may vary depending on
- the length and complexity of the consultation
- the lawyer’s experience and reputation, and the location of the lawyer’s office.
You should ask the immigration lawyer about their fee structure before scheduling an appointment.
Can I Talk to an Immigration Lawyer for Free in the USA?
There are some ways that you can talk to an immigration lawyer for free in the United States.
One way is to contact a nonprofit organization that provides free or low-cost legal services to immigrants.
There are many such organizations across the country, such as:
- the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)
- the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC)
- the National Immigration Law Center (NILC).
You can find a list of these organizations on the USCIS website.
Another way to consult an immigration lawyer is to attend a legal clinic or workshop that is hosted by an immigration lawyer or a community group.
These events are usually held at public libraries, churches, schools, or community centers, and offer general information and guidance on immigration matters.
You can find a list of these events on the AILA website.
What Questions Should I Ask About Immigration During the Initial Meeting?
During the initial meeting with an immigration lawyer, you should ask questions that will help you evaluate their qualifications, experience, and approach.
Here are some examples of questions that you should ask:
- Cost for their services
- Experience in practicing immigration law
- Areas of expertise or specialization in immigration law
- Similar cases that they have handled before
- Possible outcomes and risks concerning your case
- The time that your case will take to resolve
- The preferred communication channels throughout the process
- References or testimonials from previous clients
How Do I Prepare for Consultation with an Immigration Lawyer?
To prepare for consultation with an immigration lawyer, you should gather all the relevant documents and information that pertain to your immigration situation.
These documents may include and are not limited to:
- Your passport, national identity card, and other identification documents
- Your visa or green card
- Your immigration history and records
- Any notices or correspondence from immigration authorities
- Any evidence or documents that support your case. For example, bank statements.
- A list of questions that you want to ask the lawyer
You should also be honest and clear about your goals and expectations, and be ready to explain your situation and answer any questions the lawyer may have.
Questions to Ask Immigration Lawyer About Marriage
If you are married to a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident or plan to marry one, you may be eligible to apply for a marriage-based visa or green card.
However, this process can be complicated and challenging, especially if there are any issues or complications in your relationship or background.
Therefore, it is advisable to consult with an immigration lawyer who can help you with your application and avoid any potential pitfalls.
Here are some questions that you should ask an immigration lawyer about marriage:
- What are the requirements and steps for applying for a marriage-based visa or green card?
- What are the benefits and drawbacks of applying for a fiancé visa versus a spouse visa?
- How can I prove that my marriage is bona fide and not fraudulent?
- How long will it take to get my visa or green card after applying?
- What are the chances of getting approved or denied?
- What are the common reasons for the denial or delay of a marriage-based visa or green card?
- How can I prepare for the interview or inspection by immigration officials?
- What are my rights and responsibilities as a spouse of a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident?
- How can I protect myself from domestic violence or abuse by my spouse?
- How can I renew or remove the conditions on my visa or green card?
Immigration law is a complex and dynamic field that requires the assistance of a qualified and experienced immigration lawyer.
If you are looking for an immigration lawyer, you should do some research and ask some questions before hiring one.
You should also prepare for the consultation by gathering all the relevant documents and information and being honest and clear about your situation and goals.
By doing so, you can find the best immigration lawyer for your case and achieve the best possible outcome.