The United States immigration system has been in desperate need of reform for more than a decade, and one of the primary arguments in favor of comprehensive reform is related to its inefficiency. As much as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agencies have attempted to overhaul and simplify their processes, many applicants have a difficult time navigating the system on their own, and this is despite USCIS claims that all their benefits can be applied for without having to ask for assistance.
If the USCIS system were truly designed with accessibility and simplicity in mind, there would be no need for immigration law firms, recognized organizations, or accredited representatives to help applicants. There’s even a government organization dedicated to this: the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Legal Access Programs, which manages a platform to grant status to authorized providers of legal immigration services. These providers can serve as representatives for applicants who need assistance navigating the immigration process, but they’re not the same as immigration attorneys in San Diego, CA.
Immigration Law Firms
Your best bet in terms of legal representation and counsel in all immigration matters is to retain an attorney who focuses on this practice area. Immigration lawyers do more than just help you submit petition packets. They can also figure out which strategy is more likely to result in a positive outcome. Immigration law firms can also appeal USCIS decisions, and they can defend your interests before the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) if necessary.
When choosing an immigration law firm or a solo attorney, you can run their names through the online verification system provided by their state bar associations. In addition to checking if your prospective lawyers are members in good standing of their state bars, you can also check if they’ve been admitted to the relevant practice section, which in this case would be immigration.
As of September 2023, the EOIR listed 851 recognized organizations that provide services to low-income and at-risk individuals, such as asylum seekers who were previously detained and are now facing removal. Although these organizations operate at the community level, at least 50 percent of their executive boards must be comprised of immigration attorneys who volunteer on a pro bono basis.
More than 2,000 individuals, many of them pro bono immigration lawyers, have been authorized by the EOIR to provide legal services that may include arguing cases before the Board of Immigration Appeals and the Supreme Court, if necessary. Most of these professionals are on the boards of directors of recognized organizations.
Making the Choice
Many recognized organizations will conduct a means test to determine if your financial situation merits their assistance. Those organizations that serve their local communities will open their doors to immigrants who need basic guidance, explanations, and perhaps assistance with completing petitions and application packets, but you can’t expect them to follow up with your case unless you’re being deported. Accredited representatives are more likely to work with immigrants in detention, and they may refer you to a recognized organization if they’re only authorized to argue before the Department of Homeland Security.
You can’t go wrong with an immigration law firm as your representative because of the legal doctrine of representation. Once you sign an agreement of legal representation, there will be a duty of loyalty provision that directs your attorney to always act in your best interests. All relevant information, even if it’s unfavorable, will be disclosed, and you’ll have the benefit of a legal professional who can think of strategies to keep you on the right track toward securing your immigration status in case initial efforts don’t work out.
Hiring the best San Diego immigration lawyer you can find 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 attorneys at KS Visa Law. To schedule an appointment, call us today at 858-874-0711.