How to Choose an Immigration Attorney

The process of choosing an attorney is always a daunting task.  This is even truer in the field of Immigration Law.  Someone seeking to hire an attorney can often run into several problems that could potentially affect the outcome of their case.  These include Notaries posing as attorneys, inexperienced attorneys, attorneys who do not focus on immigration law, and bad attorneys who don’t care what happens to their clientele.

Ask for a State Bar Number or License

There are many companies who cater to Spanish-speaking clientele with a focus on tax, notary, translation, and personal loan services.  These companies often attempt to perform immigration services, as well.  They will even go as far as to say they have a “notario” or “abogado” on staff.  It is very important to research these claims carefully.  Ask for a state bar number for the attorney who will be performing the work.  Using the bar number you can see if that person is actually licensed to practice law and if they have any prior complaints against them.  We have seen many cases over the years where clients have signed up for what appears to be a great value only to find out the application was incorrectly completed, it was the wrong application, or the application was never completed at all.  Mistakes on immigration forms may not only lead to a denial of the petition or deportation, it can also negatively affect your future eligibility for any immigration benefit.  You can save yourself a lot of pain, time, and money by researching the person who plans to handle your case. 

Make Sure the Attorney is Experienced in Immigration Law

Another pitfall can be hiring an attorney who lacks experience.  On its face, Immigration Law can appear to be relatively easy compared to other areas of law.  For this reason, many new and inexperienced attorneys are drawn to this area of practice.  What they do not realize is that Immigration Law is one of the most complex areas of laws.  One small misstep can cost someone their residency or citizenship and possibly lead to deportation.  It is imperative that you hire an attorney with at least five years of experience in U.S. Immigration Law.

Find an Attorney Who Practices Immigration Law Exclusively

Another frequent problem we see is attorneys will practice immigration law on the side or as part of a larger practice.  The complexity and detail-oriented nature of immigration law means that it must be the primary focus of the attorney who is performing the work.  It is not an area of law that can be performed effectively on an infrequent basis.  An important part of experience is being familiar with the subtle and constantly-changing intricacies of the law.  

Research Your Attorney’s Past Work

Unfortunately. some of the most common problems with immigration attorneys are that they are overworked or they they simply don't care about the outcome of their client's cases.  Sadly, we have seen many cases where attorneys let their cases sit unfiled for months and even years, or never even file what the client contracted for. These attorneys may have bad organization skills or are juggling too many cases, but it all comes down to a blatant disregard for their clients and their future. Protect yourself and do your research before you hire an attorney. Ask family and friends for referrals.  Look the attorney up on and other attorney websites and read their client reviews. Look up their state bar number to see if they have any misconduct.  Finally, call and talk to the attorney.  You can find out a lot simply by speaking with the attorney directly.

NOTE: The information provided contains general information and is not legal advice. Every case is different and as such, intending applicants should contact a qualified immigration attorney to obtain accurate, case specific information.

To speak to an experienced and licensed immigration attorney who cares about you and your family, contact Isabel Cueva at 801-893-1485.