What You Need to Know to Choose the Right Immigration Lawyer & Set Your Status Change Request Up for Success
When it’s time to seek an immigration status change, the representation and guidance of an experienced immigration lawyer can be immensely helpful.
To ensure that you have the information you need to select the right lawyer – and to position your request for an immigration status change for the best possible outcome, here is an indispensable guide covering:
- What an Immigration Attorney Can Do for You
- What to Ask an Immigration Lawyer during an Initial Consultation
- More Helpful Immigration-Related Resources for Foreign Nationals, including:
What a Los Angeles Immigration Lawyer Can Do for You
The immigration process can be extremely complicated, especially for those who do not speak or are just learning how to speak English. What can make matters worse is the fact that one misstep – whether it’s not filling out paperwork correctly or missing deadlines – can lead to significant delays, higher costs or possibly even a denial of the request.
This, along with the fact that personal, professional and/or economic interests can be at stake when applying for legal entry into the U.S., is why it can be essential to retain the advice, support and representation of an immigration lawyer who can help you at every step of the way.
At the Hanlon Law Group, P.C., our Los Angeles immigration attorneys have more than 25 years on average of experience successfully representing clients in various types of basic to complex immigration cases.
Our thorough knowledge of immigration law, as well as our dedication to our clients, means that you can count on your case progressing as quickly as possible while feeling confident that we will answer your questions quickly, clearly and honestly.
Some of the specific things that one of our skilled immigration lawyers can do for you include (but are not limited to):
- Completing all necessary forms and documents to get a case started
- Submitting all necessary documentation to the appropriate U.S. agencies in a timely manner
- Checking on the progress of submitted documents to ensure that your case is moving along
- Handling follow-up document requests from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and/or other agencies
- Helping you prepare for important immigration interviews
- Attending certain immigration interviews
- Defending you in deportation hearings
- Appealing unfavorable and unfair decisions made by USCIS or other U.S. agencies.
Given the constant change and complexities associated with U.S. immigration laws, today’s immigration cases demand attorneys like those at the Hanlon Law Group who:
- Have an unrelenting commitment to understanding every change in the law
- Provide clients with superior legal representation and service
- Provide clients with personal care and attention
- Rely on a state-of-the-art immigration case management system that promotes both efficiency and effectiveness.
We encourage you to call our Los Angeles immigration attorneys at (626) 765-4641 or (866) 489-7612 to find out more about your options and how we can help you. In the meantime, continue exploring this immigration guide for more helpful information and resources.
Selecting the Right Immigration Lawyer: What to Ask an Immigration Lawyer during an Initial Consultation
When it’s time to choose an immigration attorney, meeting with the lawyers whom you’re considering can be the best way to:
- Narrow down your choices
- Get a better feel for your options
- Figure out who you can trust and rely on going forward.
While you may have a lot of questions specific to your situation, making a point to ask the following questions as well can shed some light on whether you will want to retain a particular lawyer to represent you (or whether you should keep looking):
- What is your experience with immigration cases like mine? – Immigration law covers a number of different types of cases, from those involving visa requests to cases related to naturalization or deportation from the U.S. Each of these cases can require extensive work, unique processes and potentially even courtroom representation. Having an attorney on your side who understand the process – and who knows how to troubleshoot the possible challenges while protecting your rights and interests along the way – will be essential to obtaining the best possible outcomes.
- How much of your practice is dedicated to immigration cases? – Just because an attorney practices immigration law does not mean that it is his or her exclusive or primary focus. So be sure to ask about other practice areas a lawyer has so you can better understand whether that lawyer will prioritize your case (or not).
- Will you be overseeing my case through to its resolution? – Or will your case be passed off to another lawyer you don’t know – or, worse yet, a non-lawyer associate at the firm? Knowing this upfront can help you figure out whether you should place your case (and trust) in a particular lawyer’s hands.
- What specifically will you do to help me? – Will the lawyer complete and submit all paperwork on your behalf? Will (s)he oversee the other administrative work essential to your case? And will (s)he be available to attend interviews or court hearings with you? Asking about the level of service you can expect from a lawyer is another important step in the process of selecting a good immigration attorney.
- Do you have references or former clients I can talk to? – Whether or not you plan on contacting these references, ask this question anyways. The answer can reveal how confident a lawyer is about the services (s)he provides, as well as how happy (s)he has made former clients.
- Why are you a better choice than other immigration attorneys I may be considering? – A good immigration lawyer should have a persuasive, compelling answer to this question.
The Los Angeles immigration lawyers at the Hanlon Law Group, P.C. are ready to answer these questions, as well as any other you may have, during a free initial consultation. We invite you to schedule this meeting with us today. It could make all of the difference in how you move forward – and in how favorably or expeditiously your immigration issues are ultimately resolved.
Helpful Immigration Information: Resources for Foreign Nationals Seeking a Status Change, Preparing to Enter the U.S. or Already in the U.S.
Finding a qualified, trustworthy, experienced immigration lawyer is undoubtedly a key step in the process of seeking an immigration status change. So too is understanding how to prepare for the process and safeguard your rights and interests along the way.
While both of the above can be easily achieved by contacting the Hanlon Law Group, the following shares some essential information and resources that are generally helpful for any foreign national seeking a status change (or fighting deportation).
Required Vaccinations for Foreign Nationals Entering the U.S.
To be eligible to enter the U.S. or request an immigration status change via USCIS, foreign nationals are generally required to receive certain vaccinations. They are also required to provide proof verifying which vaccinations have been administered via USCIS Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record.
According to the USCIS, the vaccination requirements for immigrants include the following:
- A mumps vaccination
- A measles vaccination
- A rubella vaccination
- A polio vaccination
- A tetanus and diphtheria toxoids vaccination
- A pertussis vaccination
- A hepatitis B vaccination
- A haemophilus influenza type B vaccination.
Please note, however, that there may be some exceptions for the above, as foreign nationals:
- Are only required to receive the vaccinations that are age-appropriate
- Are not required to receive certain vaccinations if they would exacerbate existing health conditions
- Do not have to receive certain vaccinations if they have already had them in the past (though proof of prior vaccinations will have to be supplied).
The required vaccinations, which are set by officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are subject to change.
Required Documents for Immigrants Entering the U.S.
In addition to vaccinations, immigrants entering the U.S. (to reside or settle in the U.S., rather than visit for less than 90 days) must have special documentation to verify that they are authorized to legally enter the U.S. The required documents, which must be presented at an official port of entry, will depend on various factors, like:
- The home country of the foreign national – For some countries (like Canada, for instance), foreign nationals may not need any official USCIS document or approval to enter the U.S. For others, getting USCIS approval will be mandatory.
- The reason for seeking to enter the U.S. – There are different visas (and associated documents) for professionals versus family members seeking to enter the U.S.
An immigration lawyer at the Hanlon Law Group, P.C. can go over the details of your situation and explain everything you need to know to prepare to enter the U.S.
Removal & Deportation: What, Why & How
Entering the U.S. may not be the only time you need an immigration lawyer. In fact, if you’re facing a threat of deportation or removal, an attorney’s representation can be integral to building and presenting an effective defense case.
Removal occurs when the U.S. government formally refuses admission to a foreign national or expels a previously admitted foreign national from the U.S. for violating the law.
Deportation can result in a foreign national losing the right to return to the U.S, even as a visitor. Title 8 of the United States Code explains this aspect of U.S. immigration laws, including the grounds for deportation once physically in the country. Some of these include:
- Committing certain crimes, notably violent crimes, aggravated felonies, crimes of moral turpitude, theft, and domestic violence
- Working illegally
- Overstaying a visa
- Entering marriage fraudulently to gain entry into the U.S.
- Assisting, encouraging, aiding or abetting others to illegally enter the U.S.
- Using fraudulent or falsified documents to enter the country
- Providing material misrepresentations to gain entry
- Violating the terms of immigrant status or another condition of entry
- Failing to register
- Engaging in any activity that endangers public safety or creates a national security risk
- Violating any other U.S. immigration (or other) law(s)
- Having been legally inadmissible upon entry
- Having perpetrated genocide
- Voting illegally
- Becoming a public charge
- Having engaged in terrorist acts.
What Rights Do Foreign Nationals Have in Removal Proceedings?
When a foreign national is deemed inadmissible at the border, the government must follow the legal procedures set forth in federal law for turning that person away. It’s important to note that, once someone is physically present in the U.S. (even illegally), (s)he becomes a person for the purposes of due process and legal proceedings.
If a foreign national is inadmissible or if there is evidence that an already-present foreign national has committed a deportable offense, the foreign national will be subject to removal proceedings by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Removal proceedings are brought before an immigration judge within an arm of the U.S. Department of Justice. That judge determines whether or not the foreign national will be deported. This decision is reviewable by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and then by the federal court system.
Foreign nationals subject to removal (at the border and once within the country) have similar rights under federal statute, such as the rights to:
- Be represented by an attorney
- Be notified of the charges against them
- Examine the evidence against them
- Cross-examine government witnesses and offer evidence in their defense
Government Agencies and Their Duties
Multiple federal agencies are involved with implementing and enforcing U.S. immigration law and policy. Understanding the issues that each agency handles can be helpful as you get ready to resolve your immigration issue(s).
U.S. Department of State (DoS)
The Department of State is the lead federal agency in charge of foreign affairs. It is primarily charged with developing and implementing foreign policy. However, the DoS is also involved in some immigration affairs – primarily, issuing visas. It oversees U.S. consulates and embassies abroad that are responsible for processing, as well as approving or denying, visa applications.
The Department of Homeland Security is the umbrella organization created in 2002 to coordinate the country’s efforts to combat terrorism. Most of the agencies handling immigration-related matters are now part of the DHS. One of the most important changes with the creation of the DHS was the founding of USCIS and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
USCIS is the branch of DHS that primarily deals with immigration matters. USCIS took over immigration responsibilities from the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in 2003.
In general, the USCIS is in charge of all immigration-related applications and authorizations for:
- Foreign nationals seeking to lawfully enter the country
- Those who are already inside the borders of the U.S. seeking to lawfully stay or change their legal status
- Requests involving:
- Family-based petitions
- Employment-based petitions
- Asylum and refugee processing
- International adoptions
- Naturalization for citizenship
- Other changes in immigrant status
- Extensions for nonimmigrant visas
Like the USCIS, U.S. Customs and Border Protection was established in 2003 as a branch of DHS. CBP has the combined missions of several previous agencies with broad responsibility for border protection – not only as it concerns the flow of traveling people but also for the safe importation of goods.
In carrying out is mission, CBP is charged with preventing terrorist and criminal activity on the U.S. borders. One of the CBP’s most important initiatives is identifying and refusing entry to people or cargo that may pose risk to U.S. citizens.
Under DHS, the law enforcement functions of the former U.S. Customs Service, the INS, the Federal Protective Service and the Federal Air Marshals Service were merged into ICE. Now ICE is the primary law enforcement, investigative and intelligence agency responsible for identifying and eliminating vulnerabilities related to the nation’s border, as well as it’s economic, transportation and infrastructure security.
ICE also has authority over illegal immigrant detention and removal.
U.S. Department of Labor (DoL)
The DoL promotes the welfare of workers by improving working conditions and advancing employment opportunities. Employers seeking to hire certain classes of permanent employees and temporary workers who are foreign nationals must file for labor certification from the DOL prior to hiring them. Without the appropriate labor certification, foreign workers will be unable to secure visas and enter the U.S. to work legally.
Immigration Resource Links
- An Overview of Immigration Law – These resources maintained by the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University provide an overview of U.S. immigration law.
- Admission into the U.S. – This CBP resource answers frequently asked questions about the process of being admitted to the U.S.
- USCIS Forms & Fees – This resource provides online access to free immigration forms (for various types of status change requests), as well as a current USCIS fee schedule.
- Citizenship and Nationality Information – This DoS resource shares information on acquiring U.S. citizenship, the naturalization process and dual nationality.
- Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) – This USCIS resource provides an overview of the INA, along with the complete text of the act.
- International Adoption – This USCIS resource explains how to bring a foreign-born child into the United States for adoption.
Contact a Los Angeles Immigration Lawyer at the Hanlon Law Group, P.C.
For experienced representation and effective help resolving your immigration issue(s), contact a Los Angeles immigration lawyer at the Hanlon Law Group, P.C.
Call (800) 976-5675 or email our firm via the contact form above. Our attorneys are ready to:
- Meet with you at no cost or obligation
- Find out more about your situation
- Answer your questions and explain your options
- Provide you with clear legal advice
- Explain how they can help you.