Understanding what questions to ask an immigration lawyer can help you prepare for your initial consultation. Asking questions about the attorney’s experience with immigration law and similar cases, the length of time he or she has practiced, and the lawyer’s track record can help you decide if the attorney is a good fit.
So, what are good questions to ask an immigration lawyer?
Why Do I Need an Immigration Lawyer?
Regardless of the type of immigration case you’re navigating, having an immigration lawyer by your side may help increase your chances of success. There is a lot of documentation and various steps involved in immigration cases. Any mistake along the way could compromise your case.
Your immigration attorney should have the experience and knowledge needed to guide you through your case. The lawyer should also explain the options available to you to help you determine the right path to take in your case.
What to Look for in an Immigration Lawyer
When searching for the ideal immigration attorney to represent you in your case, there are multiple factors to consider. Some of these include:
- Credentials that support the attorney, including legal practice certification
- Location, as a lawyer near you, will be able to meet in person, over the phone, or virtually
- Good communication, including the ability to provide translation services
- A solid reputation
- A free initial consultation
What to Ask an Immigration Lawyer
The questions you ask an immigration lawyer during your initial consultation can help you gauge whether the attorney is right for you. Good questions may include:
“What Experience Do You Have with Cases Like Mine?”
An immigration lawyer may encounter various types of cases. Oftentimes, these revolve around the four main types of immigration statuses. Attorneys frequently handle issues concerning family immigration, work visas, deportation defense, and transfers of status.
Not all immigration cases are equal. The immigration lawyer may have focused on cases that involve deportation or work visas, but not family-based immigration. Finding an attorney who’s familiar with your type of case will increase your chances of a successful outcome.
“What Are Your Qualifications?”
Immigration lawyers should also have the credentials to support them. Two main qualifications to ask about include membership to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the state bar association.
If an attorney is a member of the AILA, this shows that the attorney maintains compliance with all relevant regulations and adheres to best practices in this field. Meanwhile, membership in the state bar association indicates that a local lawyer is qualified to practice law in a specific state. Oftentimes, getting a local lawyer is best if cases involve local courts or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) district offices.
“What Will Your Approach Be?”
After reviewing the case and determining the goals to achieve for you, immigration attorneys should be able to detail the strategy they might use. This strategy should consist of a specific timeline along with certain steps to take in a complete plan. A good strategy accounts for potential risks involved in the case and the best ways to mitigate them. It also details the types of documentation the case requires, the specific deadlines for the case, and other information to help navigate the legal process.
“How Much Do Immigration Lawyers Charge?”
Before hiring an immigration lawyer, you should seek an answer to the question, “How much does an immigration attorney cost?” You can ask this during your consultation with potential immigration lawyers and find out how much the attorneys normally charges for their services.
The amount of money that clients need to pay attorneys depends on a couple of critical factors, such as the location and the type of case. Attorneys should be able to detail their hourly rate and retainer fee, and you should also find out how often you need to make a payment. In some cases, the attorney may take your immigration case on a contingency fee basis. A good lawyer won’t be afraid to discuss fees upfront and discuss a potential payment plan.
“Who Will Represent Me and Handle My Case?”
You should find out how much time the attorney expects to actually spend on your case. Attorneys often handle multiple cases at once while assigning more mundane tasks to staff such as paralegals. However, qualified lawyers should handle the bulk of the case to secure the best achievable outcome.
If an attorney reveals that the individual’s case would go to another attorney or someone who isn’t an actual attorney, this could be a sign to seek other options.
“How Will You Communicate with Me?”
Communication is critical between lawyers and their clients. Without good communication, immigrants may not learn about the details and progress of their case, keeping them in the dark. Attorneys may also be unable to fully understand what the client wishes to achieve or certain details that the client discusses if there’s a language barrier.
Generally, communication should be easy to facilitate between you and your lawyer. Attorneys should do their best to accommodate your preferred method of communication. For example, they can communicate with you via email, phone, in-person meetings, or video for routine or in-depth case updates or appointments.
Moreover, there should be a way for attorneys to understand their clients if the client doesn’t speak English. The attorney may either be bilingual or be able to provide a translator to ease communications and make sure that the attorney and the client can understand one another.
“What Makes You the Best Option?”
A good lawyer will also understand that there’s plenty of competition out there and that his or her prospective clients might be looking at several options. This is why an attorney should be able to discuss what makes him or her the best choice available to prospective clients.
These elements may include the years of experience the lawyer has in immigration law, past successes, or experience with similar cases. His or her devotion to getting the best results for the clients he or she takes on could make the lawyer stand apart from attorneys who seem more self-interested.
“Do You Have Good Reviews?”
During the consultation, take the time to ask about reviews from past clients or peers. If an attorney has plenty of experience and has been successful in immigration law, he or she may have past clients and references who can support his or her claims. Keep in mind that attorneys may not be able to provide this information due to attorney-client confidentiality rules.
Locate the Ideal Immigration Attorney to Succeed with a Case
By asking these questions during an initial consultation, you can get a better sense of whether the attorney is right for you. You can also seek consultations with multiple lawyers. This would enable you to compare and contrast responses to the same questions and determine which gave the most satisfactory answers.
Of course, the attorney’s overall personality could also influence your choice. The right attorney will be able to get along well with you and establish effective and healthy communication. If a lawyer doesn’t seem to have a compatible personality, it may be in your best interest to continue your search.
Even if an attorney isn’t the proper fit, he or she may be able to point you toward another qualified attorney who may be able to provide reliable representation.
Asking the right questions and speaking with various attorneys will help narrow down your selections and enable you to find the most ideal attorney. Questions about immigration law experience, the attorney’s approach to the case, lawyer fees, and other relevant topics are good to ask in a consultation.