If you’ve ever seen an offer for a free immigration consultation, you’ve probably wondered if it’s worth your time. You’ll have anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes to discuss one of the most important things in your life: your or your loved one’s application to come to the United States.
So what can you accomplish during your free immigration consultation session? Well, that depends on you. How useful and informative your meeting is depends on how much prep work you do in advance.
In the post below, we’ll outline what you need to evaluate whether an attorney has the experience and other skills required to handle your case properly. This information should help guide you through your interview and selection process. After all, the decision you make will ultimately impact your family, your finances, and your ability to reside within the United States.
Step 1: Do Your Homework
Would you ever buy a car on a whim? Or purchase the very first home you tour? Probably not. As with any major purchase, you research your options, read reviews, and figure out whether or not it’s going to fit your life. Hiring your attorney should follow the same concept.
At a minimum, you should investigate whether or not your attorney has passed the state bar. The state has strict requirements for individuals who practice law within its borders, and your case could be in jeopardy if your attorney is not licensed.
Another thing you want to ask is whether your attorney has handled a case like yours before. While no two cases are alike, having a depth and breadth of experience in an area that concerns you should be a critical determination in who you decide to choose. You may even opt to go with an attorney who focuses exclusively on immigration law; it just depends on your family’s needs.
Another relevant question to ask is whether your attorney has experience working with United States customs and immigration services division, or other government agencies overseeing immigration. Depending on the particulars of your case, it might be helpful to select an attorney who has handled deportation and criminal cases related to immigration previously.
Step 2: Gather and Organize Your Documentation
To maximize your time, it’s best to have all documentation ready and available at your fingertips if needed. As your potential attorney enquires about the specifics of your case, it may help them to be able to review documents in question. This will lead to a higher quality evaluation up front and allow you to get a better feel for the potential case strategies.
It might go without saying, but having all the documents isn’t the only battle. If you bring everything in in a shoebox or trash bag, it will be incredibly hard to sort through and find what you need, when you need it. Take a few minutes in advance of your free immigration consultation and organize the documents in a way that makes them easy for you to find and locate each one.
Step 3: Write Down Your Questions
Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve had 1 million questions, but when the time comes to ask them you can’t seem to think of a single one? Well, you don’t want that to happen during your free immigration consultation. To help prevent this, jot down all the questions you and your family may have. If it’s more than you think you can cover during the 30 to 60 minutes, your free immigration consultation provides, be sure and mark the ones that are most important to you and ask those first.
Step 4: Ask About Billing
While this could fall under the “do your homework” subheading, we think it merits its own section. How attorneys bill varies widely from firm to firm. Some demand a large retainer up front; some are solely based on hours, and many leverage some combination of both. At your free immigration consultation, you should ask about your attorney’s minimum retainer, hourly rate, and any other particulars related to charging. For example, you’ll want to know if your attorney rounds up and bills for a full hour just to respond to your email, which only took 15 minutes.
Understanding how your prospective lawyer plans to charge you may weed out some of your prospects right up front. It’s important that whomever you choose has a structure and price range your budget will allow.
Ready to Schedule Your Free Immigration Consultation?
Still wondering if a free immigration consultation is worth it? Call (404) 892-8300 to speak with our qualified legal team and get yours scheduled today.