If you’re considering immigrating to the U.S., it’s important that you work with the best immigration lawyers for your needs – and that means you have to ask friends and family for referrals, check online reviews and interview attorneys before you make a hiring decision.
But what, exactly, are you looking for?
This guide shows you the characteristics of the best immigration lawyers so you can find a team who best represents your needs through every step of the process.
Characteristics Of The Best Immigration Lawyers
It’s important that you know all attorneys learn the same information while they’re in school, and they all have to pass the same licensing exams – but every attorney has his or her own personality, views on the law, and creative ability. No two lawyers will be exactly the same.
And because no two cases are exactly the same, there’s never a way to guarantee an outcome. Dozens of factors combine to make every case unique.
For most people, the best immigration lawyers are those who focus only on immigration issues. That’s because immigration law changes a lot, and an attorney who practices other types of law may not have time to focus on the most current cases and updated laws.
When you’re looking for the best immigration attorneys, it starts with asking friends and family about personal experiences. Often, a word-of-mouth referral is priceless. If you don’t know anyone who’s worked with an immigration lawyer, your next step is to begin reading online reviews.
Once you’ve narrowed your choices down to a handful, look at those lawyers’ websites, and ask yourself:
- Do they provide a lot of information online?
- Can you find contact information easily?
- Does the attorney have an informational blog that’s recently (and frequently) updated?
Attorneys who care about their clients – and about the law in general – are happy to provide a wealth of information that helps people, even if those people don’t choose to work with them. That’s because they’re passionate about taking care of people.
These things should help you narrow down your choices. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to pick up the phone and interview your prospects. You’re looking for information on how the attorney operates, whether you can get along well, and how knowledgeable the lawyer is about immigration topics that are important to you.
You need an attorney who:
- Continues to learn when presented with new information
- Has a keen eye for detail
- Has a team of other experienced lawyers to work with
- Has excellent analytical skills
- Has excellent communication skills
- Is willing to stick it out, even when things aren’t working out according to plan
- Knows how to research
- Shows good judgment
- Solves problems creatively
Here’s a quick breakdown of each of these skills (and why they’re important).
1. Continual Learning
Immigration laws evolve quickly – and so do requirements when it comes to applying for temporary visas, changing to permanent resident status, and so much more. The best immigration attorneys stay on top of all the changes through continuing education, seminars and extensive research. You need a lawyer who makes decisions based on the most current information available.
2. Strong Attention To Detail
Immigration requires a lot of paperwork. In fact, “a lot” is an understatement. In most cases, there are several forms your attorney needs to file on behalf of clients looking for a visa or a green card. Mistakes on visa and green card applications, or any other immigration-related documents, can lead to long processing delays.
Sometimes a mistake can cause USCIS to reject the form entirely, requiring you to start the whole process over again. It’s incredibly important that you work with an attorney who has an eye for detail – otherwise, your immigration process could take longer (and be a lot more stressful than it needs to be).
3. Working On A Team
The best immigration lawyers recognize that more heads are better than one – and when a situation arises that they’re unfamiliar with or that’s unusually difficult, they know it’s important to have other attorneys on standby who can help.
It’s also important that your lawyer has legal assistants, researchers and other team members that fill supporting roles because that way you know there are plenty of people keeping your case afloat.
4. Analytical Skills
Practicing law requires attorneys to take in huge amounts of information and zero in on specific pieces of it to help their clients. You need an immigration lawyer who’s really good at that because sometimes there’s more than one possible solution to an issue (especially if you’re facing deportation or you have a complex case).
The best attorneys can distill the tremendous amounts of information they take in to find exactly what they need – and then they’ll act to protect your rights and ensure you get the best possible outcome, no matter what type of case you’re involved in.
5. Communication Skills
Some of the best immigration lawyers in the U.S. have the communication skills to match – and that’s absolutely necessary. Your lawyer needs to be able to communicate not only with you but with judges, other attorneys, and USCIS officials.
And the reality is that many immigration cases take a significant amount of time. You’ll be working with your lawyer every step of the way, so it’s a good idea to find one who communicates effectively and in ways, you’re comfortable with.
Because many immigration cases take quite some time to work through, whether it’s simply waiting to get an interview date for a visa or it’s something far more complex and serious, such as waiting for removal proceedings, it’s important to have an immigration attorney on your side who’s shown that he or she can stick it out.
7. Research Skills
The best immigration attorneys have a large pool of resources at their disposal, including access to case law and other important documentation. They also know how to conduct in-depth research and have legal assistants who help them find information that’s relevant to your case.
You need an attorney who can use his or her exceptional research skills to understand what you need and provide the right services.
8. Good Judgment
Having the ability to draw reasonable, logical conclusions or make the right assumptions is important – and when you’re looking for the best immigration lawyer for your needs, you need one who can anticipate what will happen during removal proceedings and other cases.
Your attorney also needs to be able to evaluate your situation objectively so he or she knows how to argue on your behalf. This isn’t just important during removal proceedings, though; it’s also important when an attorney is helping a client prepare for a visa interview, the citizenship test or anything else related to an immigration case.
9. Creative Problem-Solving
Being able to “think outside the box” is an important quality in an immigration attorney. That’s because it can make a huge difference in your case. The best attorneys are able to come up with creative solutions to complex problems to protect their own clients’ best interests.
Interviewing Potential Immigration Attorneys
When you call an immigration attorney for help on your case, whether it’s something that appears simple (like an adjustment of status) or something that can be complex and carries serious consequences (like removal proceedings), it’s okay to use the time allotted for your free consultation to ask questions that clue you in on whether you’re talking to the best one for your needs.
You can also ask case-specific questions. Some questions you should ask include:
- How long have you been practicing immigration law? While you don’t need an attorney who has practiced immigration law for decades, you do need one who understands the law and how it pertains to your case.
- How many cases have you handled that are similar to mine? A little experience can go a long way. Generally, it’s best to work with an attorney who has handled cases that are very much like yours.
- Do you perform other legal services, like criminal defense and family law? For most people, it makes sense to work with an immigration lawyer who focuses exclusively on immigration law – not other types of law, which can also be complicated and evolve quickly.
- What are the possible outcomes for my case? The best immigration lawyers will be able to tell you potential outcomes for your case. Although nobody can predict whether USCIS will grant your petition or whether a judge will see things your way, your attorney should be able to give you a series of possible scenarios.
Do You Need To Find The Best Immigration Lawyer For Your Case?
We’d love to talk to you about your case and answer your questions. Please feel free to call us at (214) 999-1942 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced immigration lawyer now.