Starting your immigration journey can be scary and stressful, though extremely exciting. When you make your final decision and decide on attempting immigration into the United States, the amount of information available online can be overwhelming, and the legalese can be extremely hard to read. Without someone by your side to help you on your path, it can be hard to reach your immigration status goals, especially because immigration agents and the Office of Immigrant Affairs don't try to make it any easier on potential immigrants. We have put together a list of questions to ask an immigration lawyer to ensure you are working with the right firm.
Your first step towards immigration should always be hiring an independent immigration attorney to help you reach your immigration goals. At the Law Office of Jason A. Dennis, we take every case seriously and treat all of our clients equally, no matter the complexity of your case. From simple work or student visas to political asylum hopefuls, as authorized immigration service providers, we have the experience to suit your needs and the inside knowledge of the mindset of the average immigration judge.
Where do I Start?
While it's important to do your own research, there are some questions that can only be answered by those who have experience with immigration law and the immigration courts. Before you meet with your attorney, however, there are a few things you will want to do. First, you should also do the basic research needed to pick the type of visa you are looking to obtain and make sure you fit the basic criteria for that visa or immigration path.
This can save you and your attorney time when it comes to getting you to your goals. If you have no idea and your research doesn't help you settle on a choice of visa, your attorney will be able to help you find the right visa if needed.
You should also make sure that there are no special visas for or bans against immigrants of your national origin. In times of war, immigrants coming from certain countries may be considered refugees or may be banned from immigrating to the United States for a time. This can cause immigration issues for your case, information regarding these circumstances can be found on the Office of Immigrant Affairs website.
What are the Best Basic Questions to Ask During a Consultation?
During your initial consultation, and before you officially hire an attorney, there are some basic questions you should ask to ensure that you are hiring the right legal representation for yourself, and for your case. First, you should make sure that your attorney specializes in the type of immigration you are looking to participate in. This means that if you want a work visa, you should hire an attorney with experience in work visas. While many immigration lawyers may have amazing client reviews from their work on refugee immigration cases, that knowledge and experience are only relevant and helpful if it is in the category of immigration law that your case is in.
You will also want to make sure that the attorney you have your consultation with is the attorney that will be representing you throughout your entire case. Many larger, corporate law firms will hand cases off to junior associates to handle, even though you normally will have your meeting with a partner or attorney higher up in the firm. You want to make sure that your legal representation will be the same throughout your case since switching attorneys mid-case can cause lots of problems when it comes to paperwork, deadlines, and the flow of information between client and attorney, as well as attorney to attorney.
Lastly, you will want to ask them about client recommendations and reviews, as well as the success rate they have with cases similar to yours. These last questions are to make sure that your attorney is who they say they are and are worth the money you will have to pay them to handle your case. You do not want to be swindled by someone who is exaggerating their experience to get your business.
What Should Ask a Potential Immigration Attorney?
Once you have hired an attorney, you can begin to ask more in-depth immigration questions that pertain specifically to your case. Below is a good list of basic, common questions that apply almost universally to immigration cases, no matter which niche area of immigration law your case is in.
Are You Eligible For Any Fee Waivers?
There are many fee waivers throughout immigration law, but applying for them can be tricky and should be handled by an attorney. When you hire an attorney that specializes in the area of immigration law your case is in, they should already have intimate knowledge of any and all fee waivers available and will be able to tell you whether or not you are eligible to apply for those waivers. These fee waivers can save you hundreds to thousands of dollars.
How Long Will Your Case Take?
While even the most experienced immigration attorneys won't be able to give you an exact date, they should be able to give you an approximate timeline, which you should know in order to wrap up any loose ends in your home country before making your way into the United States, and can be helpful when telling future employers, landlord, etc, when to expect you in the country. Every different visa has an approximate waitlist from the start of the application process to a final decision by
How Much Will Your Case Cost?
Just like with the timeline, even the most experienced immigration lawyers will not be able to give you an exact number, unless your case is extremely simple and they are only charging you a flat rate. However, they should be able to give you an approximate range based on the average immigration process in your category of immigration matters, and a list of application filing fees that you will have to pay.
Is There Anything You Can Do to Speed the Process Up?
Because immigration attorneys are so familiar with the law, they know intimately any "loopholes" or "shortcuts" you may be able to take, based on the circumstances of your particular case. There are also things that may be easier for you to accomplish than your attorney, such as proving the needed evidence, contacting future employers for proof of awaiting employment, contacting school staff if you are getting a student visa for proof of acceptance, or getting sworn statements from someone who is sponsoring you.
How to Improve Your Chances of Receiving a Favorable Outcome
Many immigration cases include interviews with immigration agents or some other type of immigration authority. While many people know that learning at least some English is a good idea, as well as dressing professionally, immigration attorneys do know other actions that will make you a better candidate than other candidates in the eyes of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and your immigration judge, such as ensuring you are in good physical and mental health, you have a set plan for your post-arrival life in the United States, making sure you either have a clear criminal history in your home country, or you are able to get any criminal activity sealed or criminal offenses wiped from your record, etc.
More in-Depth Questions to Ask an Immigration Attorney
While basic questions are great, you may have more in-depth questions to ask an immigration attorney. Common, more specialized questions normally center around what to expect when you arrive in the United States, as many people do not know anyone in the United States when they immigrate here. You may have questions about public schools if you are bringing your children with you to the United States, or about continuing to "upgrade" your immigration status to becoming a green card holder or through naturalization after you have been assigned a visa.
You may also have questions about immigrant communities, such as Staten Island, where you may want to settle. Many others questions may arise as you being your immigration proceedings, and you should ask your attorney about them as soon as you can.
A good rule of thumb is that you should ask whatever questions you have. Your attorney will answer everything that they can, and if they cannot answer your question, a good attorney will either find out the answer or help you get in touch with someone who can answer your questions. Your attorney works for you, and you should not be afraid to ask any and all questions that you may have.
If you have had immigration issues in the past, such as dealings with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), immigration fraud, or the Office of Immigrant Affairs, you should inform your attorney as soon as possible and make sure that you are not in danger of losing your immigration status,
No Matter the Question, We've Got the Answers
At the Law Office of Jason A. Dennis, we pride ourselves on our client-first mentality. We encourage all of our clients to ask any and all questions they may have because we want your immigration journey to be as stress-free as possible, and for your chances of success to be as high as they can go. Our goal is a safe immigration process that leaves both our clients and the Office of Immigrant Affairs happy.
Whether you are an undocumented immigrant, have lost your immigration papers, are dealing with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or need representation for deportation defense, haven't even begun your immigration process or entered the United States, or you are in the United States on a visa and are trying to change your immigration status, the Law Office of Jason A. Dennis has years of experience in all facets of immigration legal matters and can help. Call 516-494-7373 today for a free consultation to discuss your case and our immigration assistance services.