- What questions should you ask an immigration lawyer?
Choosing the right immigration attorney for your case can make all the difference. An immigration attorney’s experience handling your type of case, especially if an unforeseen problem arises, can be the determining factor for whether your request is approved or denied. With the new immigration policy requiring the referral of many denied applicants to removal (deportation) proceedings, selecting the best immigration attorney for your case is a critical decision.
While some immigration attorneys offer free consultations, others charge for their time and expertise. To make the most of your consultation, it is best to attend the appointment prepared with questions. Below are some examples of questions to ask an immigration attorney during your first consultation with them to help you determine if that lawyer is the right one for you. If you don’t feel comfortable with the attorney during the consultation, or feel like you are being rushed, chances are that is likely how you may feel throughout the duration of your case. It’s important that you feel comfortable, respected, and listened to as your relationship with your immigration attorney will often last for a very long time.
- How many years have you been practicing immigration law? While everyone must start somewhere, experience counts. An immigration attorney with several years of experience in immigration law will be much more familiar with nuances in the law and common pitfalls to avoid. A seasoned immigration practitioner will also more likely be familiar with the local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office and/or the local Immigration Court, regarding how to best present a client’s case before those agencies, invaluable knowledge only gained through actual experience.
- Have you handled my type of case frequently before? Don’t assume that just because an attorney calls themselves an immigration attorney, or because their website advertises that they practice immigration law, they have ever filed your type of case before. It’s a good idea to ask your potential representative specifically if they have worked on your type of case in the past, how frequently, and whether they have been successful with your type of case.
- What are your specific payment terms? Unfortunately, we often hear stories from clients previously represented by another attorney who say that the attorney never took the time to fully explain their fee structure to them, or refused to proceed with representation at various points in their case unless a lump sum was paid. During your initial consultation ask the attorney up front what are their payment terms, do they offer payment plans, what steps are involved in the case and does their fee cover all those costs, are the filing fees included, and will the attorney charge separately for answering calls, attending your interview, or responding to more requests for information by the government? While they may sometimes be unable to provide you with an exact cost in a complicated case, they should at least be able to tell you the anticipated likely costs going forward so that you can plan accordingly and know what to expect from each other.