Deciding on an immigration lawyer can feel like an overwhelming situation. You’re investing your time, money and, even your faith in someone, hoping that they can help you or a loved one, and I’m sure you want to make the right decision.
Just like every case is different, every lawyer is different. And when it comes down to deciding, if you are not an expert in the matter, it could be hard to make a decision.
That’s why I created these five questions you should ask before hiring an immigration attorney, hoping that they could work as a guide to help you make the best decision for your particular needs.
Finding the right attorney has never been more important than now. Under Trump, immigration law has changed from how they can help you achieve your immigration goal to how they can deny your petition for any reason at all. So, finding the right attorney to help is more important than ever. Here are some general issues to consider:
You need someone passionate about helping immigrants.
You deserve someone who gets you. Someone who has experienced first-hand what it is like to pack up, leave everything behind, and go to a new land. That person is most likely to help you because they know how hard it is.
Desire to Help
At its core, the law is a way of solving problems people face in a non-violent manner. We all have problems. Make sure that the attorney you hire is driven to help your problems like yours. With only a couple of questions, you will know if they have it or not.
Pay attention to how the firm treats you
How were you treated on the phone and in the office? Was the staff friendly or angry and annoyed at being interrupted? Did the attorney answer your questions, or was he curt and condescending?
If they treat you poorly before you hire them, are they likely to treat you better after you pay them?
Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Immigration Attorney
I previously discussed common questions I get in a consult. Now, I want to discuss with you questions you should ask, but most don’t.
Are you an attorney?
I know this seems silly. I can’t remember the last time someone asked me if I was an attorney. Maybe that’s because most people who meet with me already know me and are usually referred to me.
An attorney has a law degree and is allowed to practice law in one or more states. Every state has an agency where you can search to make sure your attorney is licensed to practice law. Both Kim (my wife) and I are licensed attorneys in New Jersey and New York.
Although nobody asks me if I am an attorney, I can’t tell you how many clients have come in saying they had an attorney only to find it was a Notario.
Notarios can’t help you when a problem arises. They say they only help fill out forms, but applying for a visa or green card is more than filling out forms. The documents are the easiest part of what I do. Success requires strategy, which notaries (and many attorneys) don’t have the experience or education to provide.
Things to watch out for:
- Notaries, consultants, travel agents, or others who promise easy solutions to immigration problems
- Anyone who guarantees a visa in exchange for a fee
- Lawyers from other countries who aren’t licensed to practice law in the US
- People who say they “know someone” who will get you approved
A good lawyer will study your particular situation and let you know what is the best course of action to take for your immigration concern. Call our law firm today at (888) 695-6169 to schedule a consultation.
Have you ever been reprimanded or disciplined for dishonesty?
This question is a great question to ask a lawyer. If an attorney has been disciplined for unscrupulous behavior in the past, you may want to look elsewhere. Overzealous or dishonest behavior has no place in the court system; the worst part is that if an attorney does something that deserves reprimand or discipline while working for you, it can harm your case.
If you google “Attorney Ethics Grievance _______(State),” you will find that state’s website and search for the name of the attorney to see if they had a grievance.
Some attorneys who have been reprimanded in the past learn from their mistakes and provide excellent representation. Still, the fact is that if an attorney has done something unethical in the past, you’re under no obligation to believe that they won’t do it again.
Depending on the answer you get – and the information you discover while you’re checking a lawyer’s record – you may decide that you should work with another attorney.
While you are searching for the attorney, make sure to check the attorney’s online reviews before making a hiring decision. People aren’t shy about leaving feedback on Google, so find out whether a lawyer seems trustworthy and reputable.
At Andres Mejer Law, neither Kim (my wife) or myself have been reprimanded for improper or dishonest conduct. One of our core values is to treat others the way we want to be treated. We do our best to live by the Golden Rule.
If you have immigration concerns, don’t hesitate to connect with a New Jersey immigration lawyer today. We are experienced in handling immigration cases such as applying for a Green Card or a marriage visa. Call our law firm today at (888) 695-6169 to schedule a consultation.
Are you a member of AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association)?
AILA is the only legal association in the United States for immigration attorneys and is probably the immigration lawyer’s best resource for up-to-date information.
Membership in the American Immigration Lawyers Association, or AILA, clearly indicates that the attorney is committed to immigration law. It shows that the lawyer you’re working with demonstrates a desire to staying abreast of new developments and best practices.
While AILA memberships are not a guarantee of quality, it does indicate that the attorney is keeping up with this rapidly changing field of law.
Think about it, if your loved one needed lifesaving surgery, would you want a doctor who stopped learning in 1990, or would you rather have someone who was up to date on new procedures, treatments, and medicines to save your loved one’s life?
For most people, the best thing to do is work with an attorney member of AILA. Immigration laws can change quickly, and being part of a professional association helps ensure that the attorney you’re working with consistently receives new information.
At Andres Mejer Law, we are active members of AILA for years. We are also involved in the New Jersey State Bar Association Immigration law section. Call our New Jersey immigration law firm so we can answer any questions you may have regarding deportation, family immigration, and other immigration concerns.
What makes you an expert in immigration law?
You want someone who has seen thousands of cases like yours and completed them with good results. You don’t want someone who is doing your type of case for the first time. So here are some ways to determine the attorney’s expertise in immigration law.
Take a look if the attorney has written any books on immigration, been interviewed on TV, radio, or newspapers, given any seminars, or writes regular content on their website or youtube channel? Let’s talk about each one.
1. Has the attorney written or published any books on immigration?
Writing a book takes time, it takes patience, and it takes knowledge. You don’t want just any attorney; you want an attorney who can clearly diagnose your situation and explain it clearly and concisely.
You can evaluate the attorney’s ability before you even meet them by reading their book.
2. Has the attorney been interviewed on TV, the radio, or quoted in newspapers?
You don’t want just any attorney. You want an expert. Someone who has been recognized for their knowledge. Has the attorney ever been on TV? Ever been interviewed on the radio or had their own radio show? Have they ever been quoted in the newspaper? You can and should be able to answer this just by reviewing the attorney’s website.
None of this means the attorney will do an excellent job for you, but it helps to know that the media recognize them as an expert and have asked for their opinion, so maybe so should you.
3. What seminars or CLE’s has the attorney given on immigration?
You want a passionate advocate. You deserve an attorney who has made it their mission to educate and inform immigrants of their rights.
The best way to do that is through seminars either to the public or when they have taught other attorneys.
When an attorney gets before an audience and answers questions, you never know what question you will get. How an attorney expresses themself will tell you a lot about their abilities.
Some of those seminars should be available on the attorney’s website or YouTube channel. Review their seminars and judge for yourself. You should find them on the attorney’s website, YouTube channel, or Facebook videos.
4. Does the attorney create regular content for their websites like blogs or videos?
Take a look at the attorney’s website. Has it changed in the last ten years? Immigration is changing dramatically today. If the attorney doesn’t have an updated website, what else isn’t they updating?
If the website isn’t updated, then you have no way to judge their knowledge or experience before showing up to the consultation. When you have options, wouldn’t you prefer to spend time with someone you know to answer your questions?
At Andres Mejer Law, we believe educated clients are our best clients. We have published three books on immigration and criminal law, including Do You Qualify for U.S. Legal Status?
I have been interviewed more than 15 times by ABC, CBS, NJ12, Fox News, and other TV stations in major markets like New York, New Jersey, California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida.
I have given over 100 seminars at churches, schools, and nonprofits.
I have also had a radio show for years, do weekly live streams, and have over 900 videos and articles on my website and Youtube Channel.
Call our law firm today at (888) 695-6169 to schedule a consultation.
What is your experience in cases like mine?
I love this question because it first assumes that you and the attorney have discussed strategy. Meaning the attorneys need to understand what type of case you have. Remember, every case is unique. Proper strategy first means evaluating the 9-5-3 method. If they haven’t done that, or something like it, the attorney shouldn’t be handling your case.
- Nine principal paths to a legal status like family-based petition, VAWA, U-visa, Special Immigrant Juvenile, Asylum, etc.
- Five significant things in your past that could disqualify you like criminal past, multiple entries, orders of removal, etc.
- If you have one of the big five, then there are three principal ways to fix your case, or the attorney can’t help you, for example, post-conviction relief, motion to reopen, or a waiver.
If you are married to a U.S. citizen, entered the U.S. without permission, and were previously deported, an immigration lawyer can fix those issues. If the attorney didn’t even ask how you entered the U.S. or any prior contacts with the immigration or the police, the attorney isn’t correctly evaluating your case.
That would be like going to the doctor because of foot pain and the doctor decided to amputate your foot without even trying to save your foot through non-surgical means.
So, the first step is proper strategy. The second step is evaluating the type of cases the attorney has handled.
Call Our New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Today!
At Andres Mejer Law, we have helped over 4,058 clients achieve legal status in various ways. We have over 1 million views on our YouTube Channel and have educated over 30,000 immigrants on their legal options in the last ten years. It is our goal to help another 5,000 immigrants achieve legal status in the next five years. Contact a trusted New Jersey immigration law firm today!