What questions should I ask my immigration lawyer?
Although you do not have to hire an immigration lawyer, due to the complexity of immigration law, it may be a good idea. And if you are considering hiring a lawyer, there are specific questions you will need to ask.
The first question to ask your immigration lawyer is how long they have been practicing immigration law. This question is increasingly important if your immigration case is especially challenging. Ask for credentials and get references from former clients. Asking the right questions can ensure your immigration lawyer understands the law and the immigration process.
Next, find out if they are a member of AILA (American Immigrant Lawyers Association). This organization is comprised of 11,000 attorneys and law professors who either practice or teach immigration law. They are also kept abreast of updates to law and can help clients who are seeking permanent residency for family members, foreign students who are seeking asylum in the United States and United States businesses who are looking to hire foreign employees.
Do you have experience with cases like mine?
Not all immigration cases are the same. A lawyer who has experience with cases similar to yours will be able to expedite the process and understand how to complete your case. Lawyers who have worked cases like yours before will also understand how difficult and complicated your case might be and will know what to do to complete your case.
They will also understand what your chances for success might be and will not make promises or guarantees which are unfounded. Be skeptical if a lawyer promises too much, especially if they do not have all of the details of your case.
Next, ask them what you can do to help. Sometimes the biggest hindrance to winning a case is the claimant themselves. For instance, are you getting your immigration lawyer the information they need as soon as possible? Are you hiding or lying about critical information about your case? Be honest with your lawyer and make sure you understand the legal process, including the terminology. Partnering together can ensure the best possible outcome for your immigration case.
How long will my case take to complete and how much will it cost?
Unlike other types of law, immigration lawyers may have less control over the speed of a case. Working with the Federal Government can be difficult. There are numerous bureaucratic delays, many of which your attorney will not be able to control. Because of this, it may be difficult for your immigration lawyer to adequately determine the exact amount of time your case may take to complete.
An immigration lawyers should, however, be able to give an estimate of costs, although this could vary based on the amount of time they spend on your case. Find out if they work on a flat fee or if they will require a retainer fee prior to starting your case. Remember, a lawyer may need to meet with you to review your case before they can give you an adequate rate quote.
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If I have been convicted of a crime will I be given asylum in the United States?
Whether you have committed a crime inside or outside of the United States will not matter to the court, but there are specific crimes which will automatically bar you from seeking asylum in the United States