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Finding a Reliable Immigration Lawyer in the U.S.: Tips & Resources

In June 2023, David J. Bier, the director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute, published a position paper arguing that the chaotic situation at the border between the United States and Mexico is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to analyzing the health of the American immigration system. In the paper, Bier explains how legal immigration has been impacted by a lack of reform that should have been implemented more than a decade ago. He also calls attention to specific visa programs—such as H-1B for skilled workers and EB-2 for professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities in various areas—that employers can no longer manage on their own so they retain immigration law firms to handle things.

Industry statistics from the legal sector show that nearly 17,600 immigration law firms were active in the U.S. during 2023, which represents a 7.9 percent annual increase. This sector has been growing strongly since 2017 thanks to increased demand not just from H-1B and EB-2 employers but also from foreigners seeking adjustment of status for various reasons. In other words, it’s more common for immigrants to retain lawyers these days.

To increase your chances of a smooth immigration process, you need to have the best San Diego immigration lawyer you can find by your side. The recommendations by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to foreigners seeking legal representation is that they ensure the lawyers they evaluate are duly registered and in good standing with their state bar associations. Beyond this, there are a few steps to take when looking for good immigration lawyers.

Don’t Fall for the Notario Scam

This fraud scheme was first addressed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in 2015, and it continues to be a problem among Latin American immigrants who fall for it. The scam involves a notary public in the U.S. taking advantage of foreigners who translate notario público directly without realizing they’re not dealing with lawyers. These scammers lure victims with guarantees of successful outcomes, charging exorbitant fees for their supposed services, which typically don’t go beyond helping people fill out USCIS forms. American lawyers aren’t “notaries” like those in Mexico, for example, where they’re appointed by the court to handle certain matters, such as making entries to the civil registry.

Check for Practice Focus & Affiliations

When you check the status of attorneys and law firms with their state bar associations, look for the sections they’re part of. In California, for example, there’s an International Law and Immigration section plus a designation for certified specialists in Immigration and Nationality Law. If the state bar website listings for attorneys and law firms don’t include a section and practice focus, look for a referral directory managed by the bar association. Using California as an example again, the referral services directory is organized into regions and counties, areas of legal practice, and even languages spoken.

Contact the American Immigration Lawyers Association

This professional organization, which is dedicated to advancing the field of immigration law through self-governance, advocacy, and lobbying, also operates a referral website. Attorneys who join AILA must be in good standing with their respective state bar associations. Plus, they must meet specific requirements, such as having professional liability insurance coverage and completing annual continuing education sessions on immigration practice issues.

Hiring a highly qualified immigration attorney is one of the best ways to make the immigration process less complicated and stressful. If you need reliable, high-quality legal advice about San Diego immigration issues, reach out to the immigration law professionals at KS Visa Law. To schedule an appointment, call us today.

July 2024