I received a notice from DHS, who should I go to?
Not all immigration attorneys are made equal. Finding a competent immigration attorney can be a challenge. I frequently get asked how to go about finding immigration attorneys. Here are some tips on how to locate an immigration attorney in your area and getting competent advice.
- First, check out the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association (AILA) website, www.aila.org, and do a “find a lawyer” search. This website provides resources on immigration laws, processes, and immigration attorneys.
A family member recommended this attorney to me. Should I hire them? If you already have an attorney in mind, do some background research. Here are some pointers to consider:
- Is your attorney actually licensed to practice law? Attorneys must be licensed through their individual state bars. Ask you attorney where they are licensed to practice law and then verify that they are actually listed.
- Check out the bar association in your state. A good place to start is the American Bar Association (ABA). The ABA has a list of all the state bars: http://www.americanbar.org/groups/bar_services/resources/state_local_bar_associations.html
- Watch out for disciplinary notices! In addition to licenses, you can search for any history of disciplinary notices in your state’s bar association. Be wary of attorneys with a history of suspensions or reprimands. Do not hire an attorney that is currently suspended or is no longer eligible to practice law!
I have a complex asylum case, do you know a good asylum attorney?
- Experience is key! Whether you are interested in family petitions, asylum, or deportation defense, ask the lawyer’s office how many years of experience they have practicing in the area of immigration you are interested in.
- An experienced attorney should be able to tell you the number of years they have practicing immigration law and specifically, representing clients in your immigration area of interest.
This law school offers an immigration legal clinic, should I go to them?
- Shop around! Immigration consultations can range anywhere from free to $300.00 depending on the area of law and geographic location. Local law schools also often provide quality immigration services, but these may not always be available in your area.
To get every penny’s worth out of a consultation, here are a few tips:
- Call around and find out the consultation fee and duration of consultation. Most immigration attorneys offer flat fee agreements. Don’t be afraid to ask about payment plans.
- Be proactive! In addition to asking about experience, write down your immigration questions before the scheduled consultation.Trust your instincts! During the consultation, you should feel comfortable with the answers to your questions. If you are confused, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification!
- In order to obtain the best immigration advice, bring all the immigration documentation you think will assist the attorney.
Lastly, don’t feel pressured! Remember, you don’t have to hire the attorney on the spot. This is your case! You should feel confident regarding the attorney’s experience and level of knowledge in the immigration area of your interest.
For more citizenship and immigration resources, check out the Research Tools page.