With so many options available to you, finding the right immigration attorney can be a daunting task. There are lots of factors you should consider before making that final decision. Not many people know that there are lots of different areas of immigration law and most attorneys don’t specialize in every area even though their website might lead you to believe they do.
This should go without saying, but absolutely make sure that the person you hire is actually licensed to practice law in the United States. Finding the answer to this question is actually more complicated than it would seem because an attorney can practice immigration law in any of the 50 states as long as they are licensed in at least one of those states. For example, Attorney A may have gotten his law license in California, but is presently practicing immigration law in Texas. This is actually a very common practice. First, inquire as to which state that attorney is licensed in. This information can usually be gleaned by looking at the lawyer’s website. Then, you should log onto the directory for that particular bar association to see if that attorney’s license is current. For example, if you want to know whether a particular individual is licensed in Louisiana, you can Google the term “Louisiana lawyer directory.” The first non-ad search result would lead you to the following link: https://www.lsba.org/Public/MembershipDirectory.aspx. From there, simply type in the name of the person you are considering hiring and the website will let you know if they are licensed or not. DO NOT USE A NOTARIO to help you with your immigration case. Not only is it illegal, but it will also be detrimental to your case. It is actually very common for individuals claim to have lots of immigration experience who can undercut the fees of a licensed attorney – while you may save a dollar or two, in the long run you will pay for it.
Many legal websites can be misleading. Simply because a firm claims immigration law as one of its practice areas doesn’t mean that firm actually practices in that particular field. Here’s a little secret that most firms won’t admit – the vast majority of websites are overinclusive of practice areas, meaning that they list as many areas as possible in order to cast as wide of a net as possible. Where is immigration law in the list of practice areas – among the first practice areas or at the end of the list?
Once you discover that the firm claims immigration law as one of its practice areas, this is only the first inquiry. Then you must ask what kind of experience and how much experience does that firm actually have in immigration law? Is the practice of immigration something that law firm does in addition to other areas, or is immigration law the primary practice of that firm? This is an extremely important question to ask. Be wary of using firms that dabble in the practice of immigration law and don’t specialize in it. As a federal judge once aptly stated, immigration law is “‘second only to the Internal Revenue Code in complexity.’ A lawyer is often the only person who could thread the labyrinth.” If the practice of immigration law is not the primary focus of the firm, you are best served to look elsewhere. The consequences for you and your family are too dire for you to risk making any mistakes.
Going back to the multiple areas of immigration law that exist, here is a list of just some of the areas:
It isn’t that common for an immigration firm to specialize in every area. For example, there are some firms that only do investor visas and nothing else because this field is so highly specialized that it truly takes a well-qualified attorney with lots of experience in investor visas to get the job done. While Louisiana immigration lawyers at Liberty Law Group would be able to assist a client with an investor visa, the honest truth is that you would probably be best served by hiring someone else. For investor visas, the client will often pay an hourly fee and if you hire an attorney that doesn’t specialize in this area you will be paying for them to spend hours researching a topic that an investor visa attorney already know about. There are also very few firms in the entire country that are able to assist with obtaining citizenship for children adopted abroad. In fact, Louisiana immigration lawyers at Liberty Law Group are only aware of one or two firms in the entire country that could assist in this area, which is why we always refer adoption cases out to these firms. Check back in with us in a year or two as we are working on acquiring the requisite knowledge to assist our clients with this, but we aren’t quite there yet. Here is another secret – if you are applying for a humanitarian visa, you can usually find a non-profit organization to assist you for free, depending of course on your annual income. Catholic Charities is a great example of one such organization. If your total annual income is under a certain level and you have a strong case, you can almost guarantee that Catholic Charities will take your case, assuming that you have a clean criminal record.
Before you pay thousands of dollars to an immigration lawyer to take your case, interview them. If they refuse to answer your questions then they probably aren’t the right attorney for you. Here is a list of questions you should consider asking before hiring an immigration lawyer:
It is extremely important not to limit your research to simply having a conversation with the attorney you plan to hire. Found out what others have to say about this person – if possible speak with people who have used this lawyer in the past – this will probably be the best source of information you could possibly get because this immigration attorney’s former clients will have the most honest feedback about their work. While reading Google or Avvo reviews is helpful, only make that a part of your overall research.
It’s your life – finding the right immigration attorney might possibly be the most important decision you ever make. Think of the following example. Bill, a United States citizen, marries Katrina, a citizen of Mexico. Unfortunately for both Bill and Katrina, Katrina illegally entered the United States when she was a child and does not have any legal status. An inexperienced attorney might tell Katrina she can get her green card without leaving the United States and without seeking any waivers. This attorney would be wrong – since Katrina crossed the border illegally she isn’t eligible to adjust status in the United States. Let’s take this hypothetical one step further, let’s assume that when Katrina was 23 she had already been living in the U.S. illegally for 10 years, but wanted to return to Mexico for a brief visit. Unfortunately for Katrina, since she was illegally present in the U.S. for more than a year, left the country and then returned again, this trip would have triggered the “permanent bar,” meaning that Katrina couldn’t apply for a green card and seek a waiver for her unlawful presence until she first returns to Mexico and waits for ten years. Even an attorney who practices immigration law as a regular part of their practice might not know this rule and without asking the right questions to the client from the beginning, the attorney might not even believe this to be an issue.
Now that we have taken you through the issues you should consider before hiring an immigration attorney, let’s talk about why you should hire us. First and foremost, we might not be the very best attorney for you – if you have an issue with international adoption then we will have to send you to someone else. However, if you or a loved one have a case in immigration court or you or a loved one are detained at one of many immigration detention centers across the south then you have come to the right place. Our firm specializes in cases in immigration court. We have spent countless hours meeting with clients in these detention centers. We also make it a priority to appear in court in person with our clients. If an immigration judge is face to face with an attorney versus speaking with an attorney over the phone, common sense dictates that the judge is much more likely to grant the detainee’s request if the attorney appears in person because then the judge will know that the attorney who appears in person is serious about their client’s case. Not only do we appear in person, but we are available pretty much 24/7 and your call goes directly to an attorney – we don’t have staff to screen the calls before they come in. When you dial (318) 528-0700 that call goes directly to my cell phone and I will either answer the phone immediately or return your call soon thereafter. I might even send you a text message as text messages are the best means of getting a hold of me, but be ready to receive text messages at night as this is often when I am working on your case. I can also guarantee that I will give you a free consultation and will be honest about the potential outcome of your case – I have lost thousands upon thousands of dollars over the years because if I don’t believe that you have a strong case, I will inform you of this before you pay any fees. You will also know what your fees are up front as my fees are almost always flat fees so that the client and attorney both know in advance the cost involved. Ultimately, its your life. If you don’t choose to hire attorneys at Liberty Law Group, then just find the best attorney that works for you. So if you are looking for a qualified immigration attorney with an immense amount of experience, who speaks multiple languages and even used to be an immigration professor, you have come to the right place.