From the Blog

Choosing the Right Immigration Lawyer

In an earlier article, I spoke of the the need for an immigration lawyer and why you should hire one. I hope I convinced you to seriously consider talking with an immigration lawyer about your immigration goals. In this article, I will discuss some ideas as to how to chose an immigration lawyer. 

Don’t Be Shy – Ask What Makes You Think You Can Help Me?

One of the first steps in choosing an immigration lawyer is to find a lawyer who specializes in immigration law. Immigration law is a hot topic these days and I’ve noticed some lawyers start taking cases simply because it presents itself to them. Because immigration laws are complex and require thorough understanding and appreciation, specializing in immigration law helps ensure that the lawyer is focused on the constantly changing federal laws, regulations, and nuances of immigration policies. When I say “specializing” – you should be prepared to ask how long has the lawyer been taking immigration cases. Did he or she just start? 2 years ago? 5 years ago? 20 years ago? Obviously, experience matters.

It is also important to make sure your lawyer is a licensed member of the State Bar in the state where he or she practices, and that the attorney is in good standing with the State. In Michigan, you should visit the Michigan State Bar website to verify a lawyer’s qualifications. At the Michigan State Bar website, you can check to see if the lawyer is in good standing. 

Moreover, you can see if your lawyer is admitted to practice in the federal courts. For me, I practice in the courts in the State of Michigan and the federal courts of the US District Court for the Western District of Michigan, the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, and the US Circuit Court for the Sixth Circuit. I am also admitted to practice in the US Immigration Courts. And so, if required, I do represent clients in court.

Do Your Homework and Check Up on Your Lawyer

To help make sure that the immigration lawyer you choose has good credentials, you could look to see if he or she is a member of the State Bar’s Immigration Law Section. The Michigan Immigration Law Section is an organized group of lawyers in Michigan. Its members have to tools, resources, and network to keep themselves informed of changing immigration laws and regulations. I am a member of the Michigan State Bar Immigration Law Section and I have been a member since its creation.

Before deciding to hire an immigration lawyer, during your first meeting, you should discuss his or her qualifications in addition to the circumstances surrounding your case. That means ask questions about the lawyer’s credentials, experience, areas of practice, and any previous examples of success with a case like yours. Never be afraid to ask these questions. We, as lawyers, expect these questions and we are not afraid to answer them. And, if  he or she is put off or offended by such questions – then maybe he or she is not the right fit for you.

Don’t Be a Victim

You should never rely on the advice of a notary public, “notario“, or any other professional or para-professional claiming to have knowledge of immigration law but is not a lawyer. These individuals are not licensed practitioners of immigration law and entrusting them with your case is a huge risk

Notarios do not possess the required legal education and experience to competently advise and assist in your case. Indeed, it is against the law for notarios or foreign attorneys who are not licensed in the United States to provide legal advice for US immigration cases. 

More importantly, you should never rely solely on the advice of someone who says they have gone through the process themselves. It is important to realize that their case, which may seem similar, is really very different from yours. How would you know the difference? The procedures, laws, and regulations applicable to one case is not always applicable to another case or more importantly – your case. So, be careful to prevent an “apples to oranges” scenario in your case.

Conclusion

Only a licensed, properly trained immigration lawyer should assist you with your case, even if they are “simply” helping you to complete forms. To discuss your immigration case with me, call me at 616-233-9300 and let’s set up a meeting to discuss my qualifications, your immigration goals, and the options that are available to you.