Once you have decided to start an immigration process, whether that’s filing an H-1B, sponsoring your spouse, or applying for a green card, you will need to find a great immigration lawyer to help you navigate the process. There are many immigration lawyers out there, but given the time and cost of applying for immigration benefits and the huge impact (positive or negative) the case can have on your life, it’s worth taking the time to find the right immigration attorney for your particular case. Here are some questions to think about and ask:
1. How much experience does the immigration lawyer have with the particular type of case you are thinking of filing?
The field of immigration law is vast, and an immigration attorney may specialize in a specific area or areas of immigration law. For example, at Sumner Immigration Law, we handle family-based and employment-based immigration filings. However, we do not handle deportation or removal cases. We have decided to focus our time and energy exclusively on learning the intricacies of family-based and employment-based filings, and on keeping up with the never-ending changes in adjudication trends that affect our clients’ filings. Many of the finer aspects of a successful filing are unwritten, and only learned over time and through experience. You will want to find an immigration attorney who can present your case in the best possible light, keeping in mind the current adjudicatory environment at USCIS and other agencies.
2. Who will be the primary contact for your case? Will the immigration lawyer that you hired be the person who is working on your case and who will answer your questions?
Many attorneys use the assistance of paralegal and other administrative support staff to help assemble and process cases. This is to be expected. However, you may want to find out which particular person will be primarily responsible for your case, who will be drafting the required supporting documents (support letter, etc), who will answer your questions, etc.
At Sumner Immigration Law, my paralegal and I (the attorney) work closely together as a team. The process varies a little depending on the type of case, but this is the general process that we follow:
- We receive the completed questionnaires from the client via our online case management system (or via Word document).
- We receive notification that the client has completed the online questionnaire and review the information provided.
- The paralegal then drafts the required forms based on the information entered on the questionnaires. She also drafts the “shell” of the support letter – however, the attorney drafts the details of the support letter and/or cover letter, including job duties, legal arguments, company backgrounds, and explanation of any unusual circumstances.
- The attorney then reviews all the forms and letters before they are sent to the client for signature.
- We receive the signed forms and documents. The paralegal reviews the forms, etc as she is putting together the petition.
- Then the attorney reviews the signed forms and documents again before we file. So as you can see, we have a 3-time review process, in which we use our customized internal quality assurance checklists. Further, the paralegal and attorney keep in close contact on the details of any given case using our internal case management system to document the information.
3. Likewise, what is the preferred communication method for communicating with your attorney and any support staff? Does your preference match up with the attorney’s preference? What is the realistic timeframe for a response from the attorney?
For information about the attorney response time at Sumner Immigration Law, you may want to visit our testimonials page, found here.
4. Is the attorney willing to give a realistic assessment of your case?
No attorney can guarantee the outcome of a case, but a good attorney should be willing and able to give you a realistic assessment of the chances of success of your case. Further, a great attorney will point out areas where you can improve certain aspects of your case if you decide to wait and apply later. He or she will also be able to think outside the box with you – that is, get a clear understanding of your most important goals, and help you develop a long-term immigration strategy to get there.
5. How will the immigration attorney prepare the case, and how long will the process take?
It’s important for you as the client to have a clear understanding of not only what the exact process will be to prepare the case, but also how the attorney will best present the details of your specific case. It’s equally important for you to have a realistic timeline of how long the process will take.
6. What are the legal fees and what is included in the legal fees? What forms of payment are accepted? Is a payment plan available?
At Sumner Immigration Law, this information is outlined in a clearly written engagement letter that we both sign.
7. What qualities are most important to you? Price? Experience? Reputation? Geographic location?
Thinking about what your end goal is, and what qualities are most important to you will help you clarify what to look for when speaking with different immigration attorneys. Keep in mind that the ideal immigration attorney for you may or may not be located near you. At Sumner Immigration Law, we work with clients located all over the US, working effectively and efficiently by phone and email.
8. Does the immigration attorney have testimonials from previous clients available?
The testimonials will give you an idea of what kind of experience other clients like you have had. Keep in mind that some aspects of a testimonial, such as communication, attention to detail, etc. will be relevant no matter what type of case you have.
The process of applying for immigration benefits is complex, time-consuming, and not inexpensive. Therefore it’s worth taking the time to find and hire an experienced immigration attorney that makes you feel as confident and comfortable as possible.
Interested in obtaining a US green card or other immigration benefit? Set your telephone or in-person consultation here. We look forward to hearing from you!