A majority of people involved in U.S. immigration and immigration benefits believe that they might as well deal with their filings and cases singlehandedly. However, only few Americans, let alone aliens, have any understanding of the immigration system in the United States. U.S. immigration encompasses a plethora of laws and regulations from a slew of government agencies and the application of these laws is exceedingly individual fact-intensive.
It is imperative that immigrants know when to hire an immigration lawyer, and why it is important, in order to improve their chances of success. A number of them imagine that immigration law only entails filling of forms. As a matter of fact, the field of U.S. immigration law is quite complicated and is liable to change every so often.
As Abraham Lincoln once quipped, a person who represents himself in a legal matter has a fool for a lawyer. A complex legislative structure and accurate analysis of a person's factual circumstances within the regulatory labyrinth, creates perilous situations for people who decide to make the essential decisions that entail immigration and status themselves, without the luxury of experience and knowledge.
Seemingly simple issues in immigration can be mired in the agency interpretations and regulations and become problematic. An immigration lawyer can walk an individual through the options available and assist them in making the right decisions. The lawyer can also handle an individual's case more efficiently and effectively than the individual would. Even if a person plans to file an application on their own, he or she may want to consult with an immigration attorney before filing the document. Unfortunately, a number of individuals wait until the process gets really complicated, and that is when they know when to hire an immigration lawyer.
Unless people interact with the immigration office regularly, it is not likely that they will be able to find their way through the intricate proceedings without meeting challenges. Even small errors and omissions in processing of forms in a timely manner, or in the interpretation of the substantive law, may have severe repercussions. Immigration attorneys are typically hired by individuals who have tried to file petitions themselves but have failed for a number of reasons. In such cases, legal fees end up being higher than they would have been had these people hired the immigration lawyer from the onset.
An immigration attorney can work with individuals to prepare their cases and represent them before the administrative agency that handles the petition. A professional immigration attorney should be in a position to explain to the administrative agency why his or her client's case meets the requirements of the law. In case problems arise, these lawyers usually have additional resources available to assist in resolving the issue or preparing the case for an appeal.
It is important that one does not hire an immigration consultant for a U.S. immigration case. The unfortunate truth is that a number of people equate the term "immigration consultant" with "lawyer." Immigration consultants are not regulated and therefore, need no experience and training as a requirement for marketing themselves as immigration consultants.
As soon as one learns when to hire an immigration lawyer, the next step is choosing the right one. In addition to choosing a U.S. immigration lawyer who has a license to practice, one should go beyond that and choose a lawyer that is competent enough to handle your case.
It is advisable that one hires a lawyer who is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). This is because such associations have members that have undergone extensive training as well as keep up with the code of ethics of the industry.