Whether you're an employer looking for an attorney to assist with filing temporary work visa petitions or an individual seeking assistance with his Naturalization application, finding the right attorney can be a daunting process. For instance, there are some attorneys that handle only business immigration processes such as TNs, H-1Bs, L-1s, E-3s and I-140s. Other attorneys focus only on family-based immigration or asylum and removal defense cases. While in most cases, attorneys do not need to reside in the same state as the applicant or petitioning company, but some people prefer to work with an attorney who lives in their vicinity.
Here are some tips to finding a great immigration attorney:
1. Ask for references
Sometimes, the best way is to ask people you know who have worked with a business immigration attorney. If you are an employer, ask someone you know in a different company that hires nonimmigrant workers and see if they like the attorney and if they can refer them to him or her.
If you are someone who wants to file a family visa on behalf of a family member, ask a friend or another family member who has gone through a similar process. There are also immigration clinics and non-profits that can assist with the preparation of an application or recommend an attorney they have personally worked with. Also, if you do not speak English or have minimal English speaking skills, you can ask if there is an immigration attorney who speaks your language who can assist you. It‰Ûªs important to find an attorney you are comfortable working with.
If you don't know of anyone who has worked with an immigration attorney previously, you can visit the AILA website and search for hundreds of attorneys who handle various types of immigration cases.
2. Check an attorney's credentials
It's important to ensure that an attorney's credibility. There are some attorneys who don't clearly explain the process to the employer or individual and others who are difficult to reach by phone or email. You want to make sure that you find an attorney you can build a strong relationship with as an immigration is a timely and complicated process and it's best to have an attorney who will assist you every step of the way. There are different sites you can visit to check the credibility of an attorney or law firm such as Yelp or Avvo.
3. Compare fees
Immigration applications and petitions can be expensive. If you work with an attorney, not only are there legal fees, almost all petitions and applications require a government filing fee. For example, for a brand new H-1B petition filed via premium processing (expedited processing), the government fees can run up to $3,550. For an Adjustment of Status application, the government fee is typically $1,070.
Some attorneys bill hourly while others charge a flat fee. It's important to ask an attorney to break down all the legal and miscellaneous fees (such as postage and mailing fees) to see if the fees are within your budget. Alternatively some lawyers might even consider a payment plan to meet your needs.
4. Prepare a few questions ahead of time
It's crucial that you build a strong relationship with your attorney to ensure that your application or petition is filed without errors and filed in a timely manner. You want an attorney who is active in responding to emails and phone calls and keeping you updated on your case. You should prepare a few questions for the attorney ahead of time to see if you want to work with him or her. Ask the attorney how many similar cases he or she has handled and the results. Also confirm with the attorney that if you receive a Request for Evidence (RFE) on your case, the attorney will take action on it.
Good luck with your immigration attorney search, and feel free to reach out to Bridge for any questions you may have!