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12 Questions to Ask an Immigration Lawyer During the Initial Meeting

12 Questions to Ask an Immigration Lawyer During the Initial Meeting

PUBLISHED ON: March 07

Moving to a new country means dealing with numerous complex procedures and a lot of paperwork. This whole complicated process could be shortened and much easier to master with the help of a skilled immigration lawyer. The initial meeting with your immigration lawyer who will present you in your future affairs could be very indicative. Be aware that the lawyer you choose will be your guide from immigrant status to Green Card and that you will certainly wish to have an effective legal representative who will dedicate to your case and professionally lead you throughout the whole process.  Here, we want to inform you about the questions you need to ask your immigration lawyer during the first meeting. 

#1: Ask the Lawyer About Previous Experience

It is of tremendous importance to choose a lawyer who is specialized in immigration law and whose experience with other cases is similar to yours because this could be a guarantee that you are in the right hands. It is strongly advised that you choose a lawyer who is entirely specialized in immigration law and whose rich experience will guarantee the expertise and capability needed when dealing with your case.

Immigration lawyers are covering a wide range of cases, from green cards and work visas to deportation proceedings. Some of these cases are a mere formality, but some cases can be very demanding. Referrals or references of former clients found in the office or website could be a very good sign when deciding on your legal representative. A good immigration lawyer will refer to previous cases similar to yours and outcomes achieved for their clients.

Another indicator that attests to the lawyers’ reputability, which you can easily research, is Board certification that certifies lawyers in the practice of immigration law, educational background, published publications, or awards received that show expertise in this particular field.

#2: Ask if a Lawyer is a Member of The American Immigration Lawyers Association

Since immigration law is an exceptionally specialized field, a reputable and trustworthy immigration lawyer standing on your side could be a very helpful ally. One of the questions you should definitely ask your lawyer, or you could research before an initial meeting, is whether your representative is a member of The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Membership of AILA is actually indicating that your lawyer is up to date with all regulations and updates, and with best practices as well. Although AILA could be a perfect place to find recommendations for the right lawyer in your local area, this membership does not guarantee the lawyer’s experience or record of success. Another source you can consult before you make the final decision on your legal representative is Avvo, a website that collects client testimonials and highlights important information such as bar violations.

#3: Ask Whether Your Lawyer is a Member of the State Bar Association

Since the immigration law is strictly federal, which means that it is practiced the same across the country, the location of your immigration lawyer is not that important. However, if your case involves appearances before local immigration judges or the local USCIS district office, it is recommended to get a local immigration lawyer. Facing the local authorities and procedures more often than lawyers from out of state, local lawyers will overcome Court policies and obstacles much easier.  

#4: Ask the Lawyer for an Opinion about Your Case and What are Your Prospects for Success

After you present your case to an immigration lawyer it is almost expected to ask for an opinion about your case. An experienced and reputable immigration lawyer will give you an honest and realistic idea of your prospects, final outcome, and chances for success.

Naturally, if you want to get an honest opinion about your case, that implies that you will honestly speak to your immigration lawyer as well, especially if there are some obstacles such as criminal records. The success of your case is only guaranteed if you give the right material to the lawyer. Otherwise, you are positioning your case at high risk.  

#5: Ask the Immigration Lawyer for an Opinion on the Best Strategy for Your Case

After a thorough analysis of your case and setting the final objectives, your immigration lawyer should present you with an actionable plan with a set timeline and steps you should undertake explained in detail. The main purpose of this strategy is to avoid all potential risks you might confront while your application process is in progress. This plan should cover the deadlines for collecting all the necessary documentation, affidavits, and interview preparations.

#6: Ask Your Lawyer Who will Represent You

Another important detail is related to a piece of information that defines who will actually represent you and with who exactly you will communicate in the whole process, especially if your case is handled with a law company that has many other lawyers within the team.

#7: Ask Your Lawyer What Procedures and Actions will be Undertaken on Your Behalf

An additional detail you should precisely define with your lawyer is what paperwork will be completed and submitted on your behalf, and whose responsibility will be to attend the interviews or hearings. In this way, you will circumvent all the potential misunderstandings, and these actions could also be an integral part of your plan and timeline.

#8: Ask the Lawyer How Frequently You Will be in Contact

It is also very important to stay updated and follow the evolution of your case. The immigration process could take months or even years before it is successfully closed, and this is the reason why you should be able to have flawless communication with your lawyer. One of the proper questions to ask your immigration lawyer could be about the start of working on your case. This question could be especially important for deportation proceedings.

Be aware that you are seeking not only a good immigration lawyer but an approachable and available one who is not overwhelmed with cases and who will have time to properly dedicate to your case.

#9: Ask Your Lawyer in which Languages You can Communicate

It is absolutely understandable if you feel more comfortable speaking in your native language rather than English. Law terminology is hard to master,  and the whole process could get even more complicated if you are missing good communication with your legal representative. One of the solutions is to ask your lawyer if there is an option to work with a lawyer fluent in your native language. Just for the record, Sverdloff Law Group can easily provide you a native speaker of the Russian language, since its members helped establish the American Association of Russian-Speaking Attorneys.

#10: Ask the Lawyer About the Cost of All of the Services that Will be Provided to You

Don’t hesitate to ask about the estimated costs and payment plan. Your lawyer should clearly explain to you everything regarding the fixed fees, its hourly rate, visas and permit costs, and other possible extra expenses that might come up, such as courier, copies of documentation or translation, or DNA test when there is a case based on family-immigration. You should also determine your responsibilities for paying any of the government filings.

The fees may vary if your case is an intensive and demanding one and if there must be engaged more paralegals and legal assistants who will help your lawyer in solving your case. This is an additional reason why you should ask your lawyer for a detailed explanation of your costs.

It is highly desirable that this financial plan contains the dynamics of payment, or in other words, how often you will be billed and how your payment will be done and finished.  

#11: Ask the Lawyer Whether You are Going to Sign the Contract

The Contract is an indispensable element that will direct, describe, and guarantee both the immigration lawyer and the client, the conditions, expectations, responsibilities, and obligations.  

#12: Ask the Lawyer About the Next Steps after Signing the Contract

This is the type of question you should regularly ask your immigration lawyer. The answer to these questions represents the simultaneous setting of objectives and clearly defined steps that you or your lawyer should undertake in the next phase of the process. In this way, you will always be properly and in time informed about your case and its progress.

Final Thoughts

With more than twelve years of experience as a leader in this field, here at Sverdloff Law Group, immigration law is our primary focus. Check how we can help you with the adjustment of status or gaining a permanent Green Card. Learn the next steps to take for your case. If you have any questions, contact our immigration lawyer at (312) 238-9090 or schedule a consultation today.

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