Published March 24, 2019

Whether the goal is U.S. citizenship via naturalization, lawful permanent residence (green card) or the issuance of a temporary visa – such as a work visa, having an immigration lawyer be a part of the legal process can sometimes be extraordinarily helpful and in other times, absolutely essential.  The job of the immigration lawyer can best be summed up as follows:  A) to keep simple, straightforward cases…..simple and straightforward, B) to devise and implement a thoughtful strategy for cases involving more complex factual or legal issues and C) to provide a client with the type of moral support which will allow them to feel confident their case is being prepared properly and headed in the right direction.  I compiled the list below based on my 25+ years of experience consulting with and being hired by individuals and employers facing practically every immigration law issue imaginable.

1.    An experienced immigration lawyer can spot trouble before it starts.   Although the internet provides a wealth of information about most immigration processes, there is no substitute for a seasoned immigration lawyer who has counseled individuals with your particular situation and has a breadth of knowledge of the laws and regulations impacting your case.  In sum, with experienced immigration counsel, a client will know all legal eligibility requirements, all the reasons, if any, their case can get denied and the most likely path their case will take, and with as much certainty as is possible.

2.    Your rights will be protected.  No matter the amount an individual can read up on any given immigration law topic, only an experienced immigration lawyer will know how the law and the legal processes play out in practice, how and when to take protective measures preemptively and which battles to assert (and when).   Insight in these areas is often key when it comes to setting limits with an immigration officer in a permanent residence or naturalization interview, and of course is absolutely essential when it comes to defending against removal (deportation) proceedings.

3.    The government is not looking out for your best interests.   I often find there is a naïve hope immigration clients have when it comes to how their particular immigration case will be received by the reviewing government official.  People too often assume they will be treated fair and guided in a way that maximizes their chances of being approved.  While I can say there are many wonderful, competent folks working with the various Department of Homeland Security or other government agencies having power of immigration related filings (perhaps, even most are), it is wrong to assume that the decision-making official will always do the right thing or assess your case with your best interests in mind.  An immigration lawyer is there to even the playing field and truly look out for the foreign national’s interest, whether in planning or in the execution of an immigration strategy

An immigration lawyer will have the expertise to confidently assert your rights and defend against any potential infringement, whether it be in an interview before a Department of Homeland Security Officer, or in defense of removal proceedings in a court. 

4.    The INFOPASS appointment system, where the public could arrange online an appointment at a local DHS/Citizenship and Immigration Service office with a CIS officer, is no longer in use.   Access to conventional government customer service in the immigration context has pretty much died in this Administration.  1-800 phone numbers, and representatives in some far away, unknown location are now charged with fielding your inquiries.  With an immigration lawyer by your side, you can better know all legal requirements and about what processing times are normal, and not have to rely on the guidance of some uncertain-sounding telephone contact representative.  

5.    Government memos released in this Administration set forth policies allowing for almost no forgiveness in submitting required paperwork and supporting documents.  DHS/CIS Headquarters is essentially telling its in-the-trenches decision makers to deny cases where insufficient evidence is submitted, as opposed to the past practice of mainly issuing requests for evidence and allowing applicants a chance to correct deficiencies.

6.    The involvement of a competent and reputable lawyer should never, in and of itself, be thought of as being a sign of a weak case.   Other than circumstances where a foreign national does not have sufficient funds to hire reputable and competent immigration counsel, or cannot find competent pro bono representation, there really is no other valid reason not to hire counsel.    In this regard, a common misconception across many communities is with regard to whether having an attorney involved in a case somehow demonstrates you are trying to hide a legal shortcoming or are otherwise trying to obtain some sort of result you may not be entitled to.   This is nonsense, and accepting this proposition as true puts one in danger of being in the naïve mindset set forth above in point #3.   Assuming the attorney you hire has an established reputation for honesty and competence, there should be no concern that his/her involvement in the case will negatively impact your chances for success.  In fact, the opposite is true, as the chances for success will be maximized when the right lawyer is involved.

PUBLISHED March 24, 2019– “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2019, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois