Trying to find a good immigration lawyer isn’t just like picking apples. Because a truly good immigration lawyer makes a tremendous difference in your case, finding a reputable and genuine attorney is important. Thankfully, many immigration lawyers are hard-working professionals who truly want to help you.

On the other hand, a bad immigration lawyer can overcharge, fail to provide promised services, and/or damage your case—sometimes irreversibly. Whether you’re filing a petition for a visa or green card, trying to avoid deportation or applying for any other immigration benefit, it’s important to find the right lawyer. Here are some tips on how to find a good immigration lawyer.

Avoid Lawyers Who Approach You at USCIS or Other Immigration Offices

You’ve probably seen it. Lawyers and attorneys prowling the hallways of immigration offices trying to get business are known as high volume, low value lawyers. In fact, according to the legal bar, this is considered unethical behavior. When you stop and think about it, a good immigration attorney should be busy practicing immigration law and working for their clients, not having the time to spend looking for new clients this way.

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Recognize a Real Lawyer from a “Visa Consultant” or “Notario”

Only a real, practicing lawyer should be trusted to handle your immigration matters. Unfortunately, many non-lawyers—even the honest ones who don’t recognize how complex this area of law really is—think they’re capable enough to assist foreigners who need help with the immigration process. In most cases, they offer little value, like a typing service. In the worst case scenario, they could literally just take your money and run, or fill out your forms incorrectly—and dangerously—without telling you what they’re doing.

Do Your Research

Luckily, you can find a lot of information about your lawyer online: whether they’re a member of the Texas Bar Association (a requirement), the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association or AILA (a professional organization that the best attorneys join), whether they have good reviews, if they wrote professional articles, etc.

Avoid Lawyers Who Give Unethical Advice or Make Illegal Offers

You’ll know—something just won’t feel right. When it comes to finding a good immigration lawyer, be careful of any attorney that suggests that you do something fishy like lie on an application or to a USCIS officer, or get a fake green card.

Believe it or not, these cases actually happen. The truly sad thing is that if you are caught, you’re likely to get into more trouble than the actual attorney suggesting it. Even if you claim that they told you to do it, it won’t get you anywhere and could actually create a stain on your immigration record. To avoid anything from preventing you from future visas or green cards, avoid lawyers who give unethical advice or make illegal offers.

Be Aware and Skeptical of Unrealistic Promises

Unfortunately, not even the best attorneys can absolutely guarantee success. In the end, the result of your case is up to an immigration judge, the Department of Homeland Defense and/or USCIS. Be aware and skeptical of any attorney claiming they have a 100% success rate.

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Compare Advice: Talk to More Than One Attorney

While most good immigration attorneys are busy, you can still talk to them and their office staff to get a sense of their commitment to clients and overall honesty.

Talking to several different immigration lawyers gives you a good basis for comparison before choosing the right one. This way, you can get a feel from various attorneys to get a sense of their personality and philosophy to determine if they’re a good fit for your case. In fact, getting a second opinion could end up revealing that the first attorney didn’t understand your case or the law—or was just trying to take your money.

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