Frequently Asked Questions

How can an Immigration Lawyer help you?

An immigration lawyer can help you in the following ways:

  • Analyze the facts of your case thoroughly.
  • Explain all the benefits for which you may be eligible.
  • Recommend the best ways for you to obtain legal status.
  • Complete and submit your applications properly.
  • Stay current on the new laws that affect you.
  • Avoid delays and problems with your case whenever possible.
  • Discuss the status of your case with you.
  • Speak for you in discussions with the Immigration (CIS) or represent you in court.
  • File necessary appeals and waivers.

What is a Consultation?

A consultation is a confidential meeting with an attorney . At this meeting you will have an opportunity to fully explain your situation, and the attorney may be able to offer you strategies and options. Timelines and the basis for any fees are also discussed at this time. Depending on how well prepared you are, the attorney may be able to give you advice on how to proceed on your own, which could be very important when time is of the essence. Even if you do not decide to hire the attorney, the information you discussed is subject to the lawyer-client privilege, so complete and honest explanations are best. The consultation is your chance to find out more about the lawyer and his or her experience. Be wary of any lawyers who tell you that they can guarantee success or that they have never lost a case. Ask tough questions, and ask for references if you feel you need more information. At the conclusion of the consultation, if you and the attorney decide to work together, you will be asked to sign a retainer agreement and in most cases, to make a deposit to begin the case.

How can I Prepare for a Consultation?

First of all, bring all of your documents! Especially important is your passport and copies of any petitions that you have filed (or that have been filed for you). It is a good idea to write down the questions that you want to discuss. If you have questions about the lawyers experience in a certain area, be sure to ask. You might do some background reading or research on the web about the various types of visa options that apply to your case. If you take time to do this, you can save time (and in some cases money) in the long run. You will be able to work with the lawyer to obtain the best possible solution in your case.

Must I Report Address Changes?

Aliens in any status in the U.S. have always been required to report address changes to Immigration (now CIS). Regulations (8 C.F.R. Sec. 265) were changed which makes the requirement much more serious. There are civil monetary penalties for willful failures to report. Even unintentional failure to file a change of address may put the alien at risk of being placed in removal proceedings and ordered removed in absentia under (Immigration Act ) section 240(b)(5) of the Act if the alien fails to appear at a scheduled hearing.

Address changes are reported on form AR-11, which can be obtained from the CIS website: www.uscis.gov

Do I Need an Immigration Lawyer for My Case?

Possibly. CIS (INS) does not require applicants to use attorneys. However you may want assistance . It’s your choice. You want to be sure that your application is processed as quickly and correctly as possible. Yet, it is difficult to be “sure” about this when you cannot ask anyone a question about whether what you prepared is sufficient. An immigration lawyer can take the time to go over the application, and to answer your questions all along the way. INS officers just cannot do this. Many people do file on their own. In the end, it is your choice.

What about Notarios and Private Consultants?

Completing the document and helping you make choices about it constitutes “legal advice,” which is limited to licensed attorneys in Washington and many other states. Before you trust anyone other than yourself with your case, and your legal status in the U.S., you should be sure that they are able to take full responsibility for that. You should consider whether you will have any ability to make a complaint about the person or office. All lawyers are subject to licensing requirements, which protects the public.