Are you in need of an immigration lawyer?
Despite the need for expert advice on immigration concerns, many people are still apprehensive about hiring an immigration attorney. Some of the most common misconceptions about hiring an immigration attorney are addressed below.
1. An immigration attorney could be any lawyer, even a notario.
False. An immigration attorney is a lawyer specializing in immigration laws. Although any lawyer could provide general advice on most cases, not all lawyers will have the focus and expertise you’ll need to solve your immigration concerns, which can be very complex.
A notario or notary, on the other hand, is not the same as a professional, licensed lawyer. Notarios are not regulated as lawyers are. Although some of them may be popular in a community, they have not studied to practice law, they are not legally allowed to represent you in immigration court or at an immigration interview, and they do not have access to updates on the constantly changing immigration laws and policies. Furthermore, because notarios do not have a professional license, they cannot be penalized in the same way an attorney could be if you are victimized by their dishonest or incompetent legal advice. It is always best to consult an experienced and trusted immigration attorney.
2. Immigration attorneys will never give me advice regarding my immigration case at the initial consultation. I will have to keep coming back then.
False. An initial consultation or the first meeting between the client and his/her attorney usually lasts about an hour. During the meeting, your immigration attorney will gather all information from you that is necessary to understand the facts of your case, as well as review all related documents. Then, your attorney will provide you with an assessment of your case and will present your options to you. Normally, by the end of the consultation, you will know your options, how much the process will cost, as well as the next steps.
A good immigration lawyer will allow you to make an informed decision even as early as your first meeting by providing honest and professional advice regarding the risks and benefits of proceeding with your immigration case.
3. A good immigration lawyer can guarantee my winning the case.
False. No ethical attorney will guarantee the outcome of a case. It is rather impossible to guarantee how a case will turn out, particularly in the field of immigration law, where decisions are made by immigration officials, Border Patrol Agents, and Immigration Judges, among others. However, an experienced and responsible attorney will explain to you the likelihood of your case winning or losing, and should always do so.
4. I can only find out the status of my case from my immigration attorney.
False. There’s no need to wait for your immigration attorney if you want to know the status of your case. If you have an application receipt number (usually this is sent in the mail by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services sometime after they have received your application) and your case is pending at an Immigration Service Center, you can check the status of your application online at www.uscis.gov or by calling USCIS at 1-800-375-5283 and following the automated instructions.
If your case is pending at an Immigration Court or the Board of Immigration Appeals, you may check the status of your case by calling: 1-800-898-7180, with your alien number (starts with an A and you will find it in your immigration documentation), and following the automated instructions. There are options to hear your status in Spanish or English.
5. Once I have acquired the services of one attorney, I am bound to her until the case ends even if I feel that my case is not being handled properly.
False. You have the right to the attorney of your choice, and you may change attorneys at any time even if you have signed a contract with a particular attorney. Keep in mind that you should ask about what, if any, impact changing attorneys could have on your case and what retainer money you will have returned to you. You must end representation with one attorney before beginning with another – make sure your intentions are clear when speaking to your current attorney as well as any potential future attorney.