There are no laws or regulations requiring you to hire an attorney to do your immigration paperwork or accompany you to meetings. You have the right to compile information and represent yourself in immigration proceedings. Still, immigration forms can be challenging to understand and misleading. In most cases, if any of the information submitted to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is incorrect or incomplete, your application will not be processed and may even be denied. Working with an attorney can help alleviate your confusion and increase your understanding of the immigration process.
Why Hire a Lawyer for My Immigration Case?
Due to the complexity of immigration law, you may benefit greatly from the knowledge and experience of an immigration attorney. Your citizenship status will affect whether you may enter, remain in, or are required to leave the U.S. Therefore, familiarity with U.S. immigration law and various application requirements and deadlines is essential.
What Does an Immigration Lawyer Do?
Each attorney-client relationship is different. Therefore, you are entitled to and should ask your lawyer exactly what he can do for you. An immigration lawyer should be wiling and able to:
- Advise you on your immigration options;
- Review immigration forms and be sure that they are answered in the correct manner and complete;
- Help you make informed decisions based on your current living situation;
- Refer you, if necessary, to attorneys specializing in other areas of law, such as criminal law and family law; and
- Work with you to appeal an unfavorable decision from the USCIS and if necessary, represent you in court.
What Will an Immigration Lawyer Not Do?
All lawyers are held to certain moral and ethical standards which prohibit them from representing you in any way you choose. Although your lawyer works for you and keeps your best interest in mind, he cannot:
- File papers containing false or misleading information; or
- Work toward getting you a citizenship status for which you are unqualified.
How Much Will It Cost to Hire an Immigration Lawyer?
Depending on the attorney you choose to work with, you may be charged by the hour, by the type of work performed, or by the type of form that is filed. It is important that you fully understand the arrangements you make with your immigration lawyer (which will affect your costs), including information such as:
- Exactly what you want your lawyer to do;
- Any additional fees that may be incurred during the application process; and
- How and when you are to pay.