What Does an Immigration Attorney Do?

 U.S. immigration law is notoriously complex. Even minor errors in a visa application or evidence you provide can lead to a year-long delay, deportation, or denial of a visa. An immigration lawyer can help you understand your rights, interpret the law, develop a strategy, and walk you through the immigration process. An immigration attorney can also represent you in court, although most time is spent as a mediator between you and the Bureau of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Situations in Which an Immigration Lawyer Can Help
An immigration attorney can help you at any point of the immigration process, but there are some situations in which it is especially important to seek legal counsel.

  • You have been denied before. If you have previously applied for a visa or green card and you were denied, hire a lawyer for your next attempt. An attorney can help you improve your chances of success and determine why you were initially denied.
  • You or a loved one have a medical condition. Sometimes a medical condition changes the type of application you will need to submit, and there are some conditions that can prevent you from entering the country, such as communicable diseases.
  • You are coming to the U.S. for a job, but your employer will not help. If you have been hired for a job in the U.S., you may need the help of an attorney if your employer is not providing the assistance you need. Some employers simply lack the knowledge and experience to help overseas employees get a visa.
  • You have been convicted of a crime. If you have been convicted of a crime, you must disclose it on your application. While this will reduce your chances of being approved, an immigration lawyer can help you explain the charge to USCIS. Not all crimes bar you from entering the U.S., but you risk deportation if you make any misrepresentations.
  • You or a loved one are facing deportation. An immigration attorney can work to stop the deportation and get you approved for citizenship. Contact an attorney for help immediately if you are or have been in immigration court removal proceedings. If the proceedings are not finished or on appeal, your immigration status is still in the power of the courts. An attorney will help you research possible avenues of relief, prepare for court, and represent you at your hearing.
  • You are overwhelmed by the paperwork. If you have started the process on your own but you are feeling overwhelmed, you aren’t alone. The immigration process is complex and confusing, but an attorney can help you make sure your paperwork is done properly to avoid unnecessary delays.

While an immigration lawyer can be invaluable, there are some things a lawyer cannot do for you. An attorney cannot guarantee you get a green card or a visa, nor can an attorney help you mislead an immigration official if you are in a situation that bars entry to the U.S., such as a conviction for a certain crime.

If you suspect problems will come up during your case or you or a loved one have been threatened with deportation or contacted by the Bureau of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, it’s important to schedule a consultation with an immigration lawyer to discuss your options.

H-1B Visa Alternatives: What are My Options?

Due to the expected high demand, employers should be planning now for a possible rejection of their H-1B petitions. Alternative visa options for affected employees include, but are limited to, the following:

  • for Canadian and Mexican professionals, the TN visa available under the North American Free Trade Agreement;
  • for nationals of Australia, the E-3 visa;
  • for nationals of Chile or Singapore, the H-1B1 visa;
  • for intracompany transferees, the L-1 visa (an organization with foreign operations can transfer employees to its U.S.-affiliated company in a similar position under certain circumstances);
  • for individuals with a U.S. degree in a science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) field and employers enrolled in E-Verify, the 17-month optional practical training (OPT) extension;
  • for individuals who may qualify under the extraordinary ability criteria, the O-1 visa;
  • for essential employees if the company and foreign national share the same nationality, the E-2 visa;
  • for individuals in F-1 status, continue with F-1 studies and look at internship opportunities under curricular practical training (CPT);
  • for individuals who may qualify under the EB-1 extraordinary ability, EB-1 outstanding researcher and/or EB-2 national interest waiver (NIW) criteria, pursue concurrent I-140/485 green card process and work authorization issuance;
  • for individuals whose employers have offices outside the United States, the individuals can be placed on the foreign payroll and work abroad until next year’s H-1B filing period or until another type of work visa becomes available;
  • for individuals entering a structured training program, the H-3 visa; and
  • for individuals who can be categorized as an Exchange Visitor, the J-1 visa.

Every situation is different and you should consult your legal to ensure you have viable alternatives should your H-1B petition be rejected.

Will my adopted child get a green card and/or US Citizenship?

The answer is maybe.

A Hague Convention adoptee may qualify for immigration benefits if: (1) the child is habitually a resident in a country that is a party to the Convention, (2) the child is under 16 years of age when the immediate relative petition is filed; (3) the child has either: (a) two living parents who are incapable of providing proper care for the child, or (b) one sole or surviving parent because of the death, disappearance, abandonment or desertion by the other parent, or (c) a legal custodian other than a birth parent (e.g., ad adoptive  parent or institution); (4) the parent(s), legal guardians, or institutions freely give their written irrevocable consent to terminate their legal relationship with the child, and to allow the child to be adopted and to emigrate; (5) at least one of the adoptive parents must be a U.S. citizen, the parents must be habitually resident in the United States, the parents (if married) must adopt the child jointly, and the parents must be suitable for adoption; (6) the child must have been the subject of a full and final foreign adoption which is effective for immigration purposes, or the prospective adoptive parents must have custody of the child for emigration and adoption in the United States in accordance with the laws of the foreign-sending country, and appropriate steps must have been taken to secure the child’s adoption in the United States. A USCIS amendment enacted in November 2010 provides for the adoption of older siblings of a Convention adoptee. In addition, unlike the orphan statute, the Hague Convention permits the adoption of a child who has two living parents provided the natural parents are incapable of providing proper care for the child.

For a list of Hague Convention signatories, click here:

Foreign-born children who are adopted abroad or will be adopted in the United States by U.S. citizens may qualify for immigration benefits as immediate relatives under INA § 101(b)(1)(F). Foreign-born children are eligible for “orphan” status if: (1) they have been abandoned by or separated from both parents, or the sole surviving parent has irrevocably released the child for immigration and adoption; and (2) the adoptive parent or parents are U.S. citizens and have adopted the child already or are in the process of adopting the child and have met the pre-adoption requirements of the state,