Navigating any immigration case can be very difficult and the best first step is to schedule a consultation with an immigration lawyer who can provide valuable insight into your case and situation. However, not just any immigration lawyer will do. A good attorney could be the difference between winning or losing your case. You need someone who will be open and honest with you, look out for your best interests, and give your case the attention it deserves. A bad immigration attorney could have detrimental effects, including causing irreparable damage to your case.

Whether you’re filing for a visa, trying to avoid deportation, or applying for a different immigration benefit, here are some tips to help you find the perfect immigration lawyer.

1. Do Your Research

For starters, get the basics out of the way by making sure you’re dealing with an actual immigration attorney and not someone like a visa consultant, petition preparer, or notario. Most non-lawyers, even well-meaning ones, don’t have expansive knowledge or capability that real immigration lawyers do. Look up your lawyer online to see what organizations they’re members of, what kind of reviews they have, and if they’ve published any professional articles. Also, after your initial consultation, don’t be afraid to ask for references!

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2. Keep Your Options Open

Don’t settle for the first attorney you speak to. Try to set up consultations with different firms to get a feel for their legal advice and expertise. You should also pay attention to what types of cases they’ve worked with before. Immigration law is a specialized area with a variety of subspecialties within it. A great lawyer who helped your cousin with an employment visa might not be the best option when trying to avoid deportation. Talk to as many lawyers as you can and ask them specific questions about your case.

3. Go With Your Gut

If the lawyer says or does anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, trust your instincts. An attorney who advises anything illegal or unethical, like lying on an application or to a USCIS officer, should not be trusted. Be wary of unrealistic promises as well. If you’re attorney is guaranteeing a positive outcome or claiming to have a 100% success rate, they are likely lying to you. If at any point you get a bad feeling about the attorney, the firm, or the payment being negotiated, trust that feeling and get out of there.

4. If Possible, Get a Lawyer Who Reads and Speaks Your Language

The immigration process can be extremely confusing and very detailed. Having someone who is fluent in your language will eliminate the language barrier and any possibility of either of you misunderstanding your goals or the situation. This will also make it easier for you to build a relationship and feel comfortable with your attorney.

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