Once you have decided to pursue a green card through the EB-1 or National Interest Waiver process, 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 permanent residence, it’s worth taking the time to find the right immigration attorney for your particular EB-1 or NIW case. Here are some questions to think about and ask:
1. How much experience does the immigration lawyer have with the EB-1 and/or NIW filings?
The field of immigration law is vast, and not all attorneys have experience with this type of filing. The EB-1 and national interest waiver filings are some of the most complex types of immigration filings, and the USCIS adjudication trends are constantly changing. 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 EB-1 or NIW immigration attorney who can present your case in the best possible light.
2. Who will be the primary contact for your case? Will the EB-1 or NIW 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.
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?
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 and build up your resume if you decide to wait and file 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 your credentials and extraordinary successes for the EB-1 or NIW filing. It’s equally important for you to have a realistic timeline of how long the process will take. While the overall timeline often depends on how quickly clients are able to provide documents, the sheer work of putting together a high-quality package can take a few months.
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?
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. Many attorneys 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 EB-1 or NIW 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 obtaining permanent residency 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.
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