As an immigration lawyer, you might think I’d say that everyone should hire an immigration attorney. While that would give me a lot of business, that’s simply not true.
For some very straightforward cases, it’s possible to submit your application to the government, prepare for your interview, and await your results on your own. There are immigrants every year who choose to apply alone, and some see great success.
However, applying alone definitely isn’t for everyone. If you’re wondering about applying for a visa, Green Card, or even naturalization, I encourage you to read on before deciding to represent your own case.
The United States immigration system is extremely complicated, slow to act, and in many cases proves to be incredibly frustrating. But before moving forward, let’s examine some of the key benefits of hiring an immigration specialist for your application.
What are the benefits of hiring an immigration lawyer?
Like all experts—from electricians to doctors—the benefits of hiring an immigration attorney (preferably one who focuses 100% on immigration law) are many. Some of those benefits are…
Knowledge and Expertise
You’re hiring someone with a special set of knowledge who knows the ins and outs of the complex immigration system to guide you and give you the best chance possible to succeed.
Many immigration lawyers have been working for years, and have worked dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of cases much like yours. The immense skillset and experience can prove invaluable as you seek your visa, Green Card, or citizenship.
Failure to meet deadlines can bring your immigration application to a halt, but experienced immigration attorneys are familiar with the different deadlines associated with each client’s case.
Unfortunately, some attorneys are so overworked that they can miss deadlines (and sometimes delay filing by months at a time). That’s why choosing an immigration specialist is so important.
Not all immigration attorneys are affordable, and many charge an arm and a leg for services that should be within reach for the average person. They prey on the fact that the immigration process is so time-consuming, and get away with charging whatever they like to exhausted clients.
However, honest immigration attorneys don’t need to take advantage of their clients—they win more business through word of mouth by getting incredible results, and are able to offer much cheaper fees for their services.
Higher Success Rate
The fact of the matter is, one tiny mistake on your immigration application can force you to wait even longer, or cause your application to be denied outright.
Navigating the maze of paperwork required for your application is tough, no matter how smart or focused you are. But choosing an immigration specialist gives you the best chance for success—immigration attorneys are familiar with all of the paperwork needed to file your application, and know the most common mistakes and errors to avoid.
Hiring an immigration lawyer ensures your application will be done right the first time, meaning you won’t need to worry while you wait for your results.
When should I hire an immigration attorney?
While there are some cases where filing your application alone can work out, for most people hiring a lawyer is the least stressful option. Here are a few scenarios where you should consider hiring an expert:
You’re Overwhelmed by the Paperwork
This is THE most common reason people choose to hire an immigration lawyer. There are piles of complicated forms to fill out, deadlines to meet, and heaps of information to submit. One misstep could derail your whole application.
Your immigration lawyer has seen the same forms over and over again, and knows exactly how they should be completed. Immigration lawyers often use computer systems to automatically fill in your data using the information you provide, completing your forms in a matter of hours instead of weeks.
You’re Facing Delays
Waiting for a decision on your application takes long enough (often months at a time). Throw in a delay or two, and you’re looking at more than a year to hear back from the government.
Bureaucratic reasons for delays in your application are far too common. For example, say you file an application for a Green Card at branch of USCIS in Texas, but you then move to Arizona. While your application should be transferred to the USCIS office closer to your new address, in many cases that just doesn’t happen.
This leaves your application stuck in limbo, which can create huge delays. While lawyers can’t force USCIS officials to take care of your paperwork, often they’ll have better luck reaching employees to figure out the status of your application.
In fact, calling USCIS yourself to find out what’s going on can be counterproductive—the department actually takes no responsibility for giving out wrong information over the phone. If you’re having issues with your application, it’s always best to get a lawyer’s second opinion.
Your Application was Denied
If you did choose to proceed alone and you later faced a rejection of your application, don’t despair. The most common reasons for a denial are for being inadmissible, which can occur for a variety of reasons.
Immigrants found inadmissible could be due to communicable diseases, a lack of vaccinations, or a criminal history. The list goes on. While some of these factors can be waived, others cannot.
Working with a lawyer from the get-go ensures that you’re well aware of any factors that could negatively impact your proceedings beforehand.
In some cases, your application may be rejected because of an error at the USCIS. If you’ve done everything by the book and are left scratching your head over the bureau’s decision, it may be time to consult a lawyer to get to the bottom of it.
Choosing the right immigration attorney
The fact is, most people end up working with an immigration lawyer. The path to self-filing is long, confusing, and frustrating. But not every immigration lawyer is the same—here are 3 of the calling cards of an elite immigration lawyer.
They ONLY Practice Immigration Law
Immigration law is one of the most complicated subsets of law, and you’re really going to want an attorney with as much relevant experience as possible.
Attorneys who practice other forms of law can often be overworked and distracted, which quickly detracts from your case.
They Have Many Great Reviews Online
Great work spreads through word of mouth, and lawyers who perform great work should have reviews and testimonials to back it up.
Google is a good start to find an immigration attorney, and so is Avvo—a site made specifically for ranking lawyers.
Great reviews are a sure sign that your lawyer gets the results their clients desire, which in your case means immigration applications submitted accurately and on-time.
You Feel Comfortable with them During Your Consultation
The best lawyers will make you feel relaxed and confident from the moment you begin speaking with them. Immigration law and figuring out your application can be exhausting for you, so find a lawyer who takes the weight off your shoulders.
Go with your gut instinct—if the attorney can thoroughly answer your questions and seems enthusiastic about helping you succeed, that’s a great sign.
Increasing Your Chance to Succeed
The immigration process is daunting, and taking the first step is the most difficult of all.
If you want to submit your application with the least stress, shortest wait period, and for less money than other lawyers, it might be time to consider an immigration specialist.
Working with the right lawyer can mean the difference between waiting 6 months for your application to be approved, or waiting a year for it to be denied.