Congratulations! You’ve chosen to seek a consultation with an immigration lawyer. This meeting is a big first step to creating a strategy for your immigration case.
Fee or free consultations? Some offices do free consultations. Many do not. Is it worthwhile to spend money on a consultation? Before you decide, you should read the attorney’s website and decide if you would like advice from the particular firm. Most attorneys charge some portion of the regular hourly fee for consultations. At the meeting the attorney can help explore the path you have chosen to solve your immigration issue and can give you a realistic assessment about the probability of success. You need to know whether you are on the right path or not. You may save thousands of dollars and months or years of processing in your case by spending some money on the consultation fee.
The goal for the consultation. At the end of the meeting, you should be able to decide whether to act on your own, or whether you would like to hire that attorney to represent you. The attorney will also be assessing whether your case is the type that they are most suited to handle. Once the attorney understands your whole situation, fees, and time estimates for further work can be explained, supposing both parties want to go ahead. This is why most attorneys cannot simply give a fee estimate over the phone.
How to prepare. At the first meeting, the attorney needs to know as much information as possible. Understanding the whole scope of one’s immigration situation is important for strategizing how to apply for legal status. Please realize two things about this: (1) any information you share with the attorney’s office is confidential, and (2) the attorney is asking in order to help determine how best for you to maintain or improve your immigration situation
Being prepared is crucial to making the process move as quickly and smoothly as possible. Here’s what you can do to prepare for your first meeting:
- Fill out our Questionnaire completely. At Seifert Law Offices, like many other immigration firms, we have a questionnaire for basic information. This will help us understand your case and assist you better and it will save time in the meeting.
- Other documents? PDF, please! You may be asked to submit copies of certain key documents for the consultation. For example, visa applications you may have previously completed, decisions, or letters from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If you have those, please scan them in PDF form and email them so the attorney can easily review. This is much easier to review than a picture taken from a cellular phone.
(Free PDF converters are available through the App store and can be found on Apple, Android, and Google products. Please contact the lawyer’s office if you need assistance to submit any requested documents.)
- If you have a criminal record, (arrests or court cases) please be ready to discuss with the attorney. You may be asked to share copies of documents about your case. About court and police records, please remember, even if your record was expunged, this information can still be important to discuss for your immigration case.
- Write down any questions you may have. To help you get the most out of your meeting, it’s a good idea to write down questions you want to ask. Some questions you might want to ask to learn more about your attorney and how they can help you are:
- “What sort of experience with my type of case do you have?”
- “What will you do to help me?”
- “What sort of timeline should I expect?”
- “What can I do to help myself to keep costs down?”
- “What are the risks going forward?”
- “What are the chances of success?”
- Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you want. The consultation is your chance to ask questions – this is your time.
Do you need an interpreter? If you do not speak English or the attorney does not speak your language, you should inquire as to whether you need to bring an interpreter or not