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Questions you should never ask an immigration lawyer (and the answers you may hear if you do!)

Apr 25, 2024 | immigration

Introduction

Having been an immigration lawyer for over two decades, I have done hundreds of consultations and have represented hundreds of clients successfully with their immigration cases.

But often, I get calls and emails from people who are not sure about having a consultation with an immigration lawyer or hiring one.

I am certain there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people out there feeling the same way!

So I thought I would answer some of the most common questions I get asked about consultations and hiring an immigration lawyer!

I don’t need a consultation. I researched everything. Can’t you just answer a few questions without doing a consultation?

No. And I mean this in the nicest possible way, for your own benefit!

Having a consultation with a lawyer ensures that all potential issues are addressed upfront (based on the laws and policies in effect as of the date of your consultation), so that you do not pursue your case without knowing what may or may not happen.

Consultation is a meaningful opportunity for both you and the attorney to engage in a back-and-forth question and answer session so that you understand the details of your specific case and situation and what you may or may not need to do.

Consultations are critical as you navigate through complicated immigration issues.

Lawyers are trained to spot problems and question you about things you may not have thought about.

You would be doing yourself a disservice if you only want to ask the attorney the questions you have.

You would not get the full benefit of knowledge and experience of a legal professional if you only go by what you believe to be true about your case.

I don’t need a consultation. I just would like to hire you as my lawyer. Can you take my case?

Not without a proper consultation first!

Lawyers need to know what kind of case you have, what they can (and cannot) help you do, and how much work is involved.

Lawyers typically do not take on cases without knowing these details.

This goes back to why consultations are important and critical.

Do I need an immigration lawyer for my case?

Depends.

If you are confident in your knowledge of immigration laws, the ability to follow instructions in careful detail, the ability to keep up with constant changes in policies that may affect your case, the ability to deal with incompetency practiced by the immigration government agencies and deal with nonsensical issues created by those agencies, then you probably would not need an attorney and you may be able to successfully pursue your case on your own.

But if you don’t think you are very familiar with current immigration laws and policies or know how to deal with government agencies, then you should probably seek the assistance of an attorney who can fully and competently represent you on your case.

With a lawyer, your stress level will be less and you probably won’t have to go on Internet chat boards to look for answers (which are often wrong, by the way!) to all the questions you will most likely have about your case.

You’ll just be a phone call away from your lawyer.

Can’t I just do all the paperwork myself?

Of course!

But who are you going to turn to when you have questions?

You will likely have questions while your case is pending.

But doing everything yourself, you will not have a lawyer to turn to for assistance.

If any laws or policies change affecting your case, you may also remain unaware of it.

More importantly, if you do something wrong when you pursue your case on your own, you risk significant and unnecessary delays, rejections, and denials.

And then when you go to an attorney to fix things (appeals, motions, etc), it’ll probably cost you more than what it would’ve cost you if you had an attorney from the very beginning to guide you with entire process and be on your side from day one.

Can’t you just review all the paperwork I prepared and tell me if I did everything correctly?

Unfortunately, no. This is simply for liability reasons.

As a lawyer, source of information is important and there would be no way for an immigration lawyer to know where the information on the forms came from or have a way to verify it if there is no full representation.

It would be too risky for any lawyer to just review a form and say whether something is right or wrong without knowing where the answer came from or why one box is checked over another.

Plus, it would be unethical, in my opinion, to review the form but not sign the form as the preparer of that form.

Should something go wrong, it would be a liability issue and most lawyers may not be willing to risk their law license to review a form they did not prepare themselves and can accept responsibility for as the preparer.

To me, this is the key difference between lawyers and non-lawyers who prepare immigration paperwork.

Lawyers have ethical duties towards clients.

Non-attorneys (like travel agents, paralegals, or other form preparers who do not have a law license) are not subject to the ethical obligations lawyers have.

Conclusion

Consultation with an immigration lawyer is advisable when you have questions about course of action to take on an immigration matter, whether it be filing applications with USCIS or preparing to appear before an immigration judge, or dealing with a consulate or embassy abroad.

Lawyers are held to a higher standard than non-lawyers.

With a lawyer, you get a lawyer!

I hope these frequently asked questions are helpful as you navigate your immigration journey.

You should always make immigration-related decisions that are best for you and your family!

Every person’s case is unique and important, and yours is no different!

 

Ruchi Thaker