The most important things in life are generally the most complicated—and immigration is no exception. More so now than ever, immigration is a complex, time-consuming and nuanced process, and filing an immigration application may be one of the most critical moments in your life. Unless you have an intimate understanding of immigration law and the application filing process, chances are you’re going to need to hire an immigration attorney. And a great one, at that.
Finding and hiring a qualified immigration lawyer is so important—the outcome of your immigration application hinges upon the caliber of your attorney, and his or her ability to continue moving your case forward. Unfortunately, a lot of fraud exists in the immigration law industry. It’s more important than ever to ask the right questions and ensure you’re hiring a top notch immigration attorney.
Here are five questions to ask the immigration attorney you are considering hiring:
1. What are your credentials? All immigration lawyers are required to have graduated law school. Ask which law school the attorney graduated from, and research the school to ensure its credibility. Ideally, your attorney will also be in excellent standing with their provincial bar association and have a valid license to practice law.
2. What is your experience with immigration law? Ask how long they have been practicing immigration law and presenting cases like yours. More experience means a better chance of realizing your desired outcome.
3. Have you handled a case like mine? Immigration is not a one-sized-fits-all practice area. Every case is unique and requires its own strategy. Asking your immigration attorney if they have ever dealt with a similar case is an important question. You may find that your attorney is highly qualified…but just not for your particular situation.
4. What are your fees? Some lawyers charge a flat fee; other charge hourly. Some lawyers will cover the cost of application filing fees, processing fees, and courier fees; others will not. There is no right or wrong answer here, but understanding the fees that you will be required to pay ensures that there are no financial surprises along the way.
5. What will you need from me? Hiring an immigration attorney doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for the rest of the application filing process. You’ll need to be actively involved with preparations, and a qualified attorney will be able to explain exactly how so.
Your immigration application is far too important an issue to be left in the hands of an under-qualified immigration attorney, never mind a fraudulent one. Take the time to ask these five questions, and if you are given advice that seems too good to be true, please ask for a second opinion. I offer the opportunity for prospective clients to ask me one question, completely free of charge—ask your question using the brief form below and I’ll answer it on Friday.