Everything you need to know to become an immigration lawyer

immigration lawyer
immigration lawyer

Do you want to make a difference as an immigration lawyer and have a lasting career? Read on for answers to frequently asked questions about this rewarding legal specialty.

The important thing first…

Who might be interested in immigration lawyer?

Does the idea of ​​working on human rights issues appeal to you? Do you enjoy interacting with people from other countries and cultures? Are you interested in criminal law, constitutional law, civil law, family law, educational law, entertainment law, sports law, enforcement or business law? Do you expect to be a transaction attorney or litigate in federal court?

If any of the above apply to you, you will likely benefit from studying immigration law. Why? Because immigration law gives you a basis to represent people who have immigration issues to solve, but it also allows you to see how a person’s immigration status begins to affect them in many seemingly unrelated ways.

What do immigration lawyers do?

Immigration issues, which have attracted intense political debate and media coverage in recent years, are only part of the story.

The United States sees a constant influx of people hoping to live, work, and study within its borders, and immigration attorneys can help various families and businesses navigate these diverse and often complex immigration routes. A person’s immigration status can also examine and overlap with other legal matters, such as family law, criminal law, business law, and tax law, and attorneys working in these areas must also have a good understanding of the law. immigration law.

Immigration attorneys may represent clients before administrative tribunals or advise clients on, among other things, their immigration-related legal rights and obligations. We also suggest courses of action based on your knowledge of immigration law.

For example, immigration attorneys could help citizens of other countries obtain legal status to work in the United States under the H-1B visa program. This program provides a framework for US workers to hire non-US citizens for jobs that require their skills. People who want to come to the United States to fill such positions must obtain approval through a complex and often intimate process. They (or often the employees who want to hire them) often turn to immigration attorneys to help them fill out forms and take other necessary steps. Lawyers may also represent clients in dealings with government officials in visa application matters.

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You can also find immigration lawyers in a variety of legal areas, from large law firms to smaller firms that include or specialize in immigration law, from government agencies to non-profit organizations. (Every world-class artist or athlete has an immigration attorney behind them to advise and obtain the necessary visas!) Some immigration attorneys offer services through a public interest criminal justice fair. Or they can prepare correspondence, meet with government officials, give presentations, and advise staff and volunteers, among other things.

Thereafter, highly experienced immigration lawyers can pursue other professional interests, such as B. Teaching immigration law in law schools. Many colleges have an immigration attorney who advises on immigration for students and faculty. Other possibilities are immigration judge, legislative assistant (each member of Congress has an immigration adviser on the staff), or an administered or elected official.

Even criminal defense attorneys would do well to understand immigration law, as they can be prosecuted professionally for not properly advising non-citizen clients on the immigration ramifications of convictions, lawsuits and judgments.

Ultimately, immigration law can be a good choice for students interested in human rights and international law, as well as certain those interested in business law or criminal law.

How can you become an immigration lawyer?

Regardless of the field of practice, the usual first step in becoming a lawyer is a bachelor’s degree, followed by a Juris Doctor (JD) degree.

A concentration in law school or a minor in immigration law will help you develop your expertise in the field and give you an edge in the field, although it is not technically a requirement to practice. Seek and seek clients for attorneys with extensive experience as an employer in the immigration field, particularly hands-on legal experience through clinics, legal internships, internships, pro bono activities, and more, as well as through their legal work in the University.

A career in immigration law, like most fields of law, also requires certain skills. High-level reading and writing skills are a must, as is the ability to understand and communicate complex concepts and advocate for your client in a controversial environment. Law schools look for these skills in both applicants and their students.

Many situations also require strong interpersonal skills. On any given day in immigration practice, an attorney may be working with people who have been through exceptionally traumatic experiences, including persecution, human trafficking, or torture. The ability to communicate with compensation can be particularly important when dealing with immigrants and immigrant families, who may need reassurance and technical assistance in dealing with the legal complexities of immigration.

If you’re not in law school yet…

If you haven’t started law school yet (whether you’re a college student, employed, or even still in high school), now is the time to start preparing for your prospective legal education and future career as an immigrant.

Common majors for students considering law school include political science, history, philosophy, economics, social sciences, linguistics, and business, but no specific major is required. Even fields like nursing or engineering can serve as “pre-law” majors.

The American Bar Association (ABA) advises anyone interested in pursuing a legal career, regardless of their chosen specialty, to seek educational, extracurricular, and life experiences that will develop the strengths and skills necessary for success in the legal world. These include analytical thinking, problem solving, critical reading, writing and editing, oral communication, listening comprehension and research.

The ABA also recommends engaging in activities related to public service, the promotion of justice, relationship building, and collaboration. Also, look for part-time or summer jobs, internships, or volunteering if you can. For example, doing an aunt at a law firm that specializes in immigration matters can give you a firsthand look at the work involved while also helping to hone relevant job skills. Such “real world” experiences can also help assess the pros and cons of working in this field without referring to full-time employment after law school. It WILL also give YOU a knowledge base to build on later if you decide to pursue a career in immigration law.

The same applies to gaining experience in a social organization, a company that waits for non-citizen employees, or a government agency that deals with immigration. If there is no direct connection to immigration, it may be worth pursuing any paid or volunteer work that involves public speaking, writing, research or other skills valued in the legal profession.

If you’re already in law school…

Once in law school, you’ll complete a mix of required and elective courses that suit your individual interests and future aspirations. This may include courses or even concentrations or certificates in immigration law or related fields that provide an important academic foundation for a career in the field.

As mentioned above, in addition to studying, YOU should also take advantage of as many opportunities to gain practical experience in the legal field as YOU can, particularly in the area of ​​immigration law. You can find opportunities in the clinical programs, pro bono activities, internships/externs, and student groups offered by your law school.

For most people who want to practice law, including immigration law, the JD is the standard title. However, some law school graduates pursue other degrees or qualifications that require further study, such as: B. the Master of Laws (LLM) or the Doctor of Laws/JSD (JSD or SJD). Advanced degrees are generally sought after by those who want to feel entitlement or do scientific research.

What does immigration law pay?

It’s no secret that law firms tend to pay well, although individual attorneys can vary by career, even within the same area of ​​law e.g. B. in immigration law. The services you provide, the clientele you serve, and the area of ​​the country in which you practice can all be expected to impact your earning potential.

According to the US Department of Labor, the average annual salary for all attorneys is about $120,000. Average salaries for federal employees exceed $140,000, while state and local government salaries range from $85,000 to $93,000 per year. Lawyers employed by large and successful law firms or large corporations typically earn more than those who own private practice or work for non-profit organizations.

The income of reasonably specialized immigration lawyers can be below the average for lawyers in general. For example, a lawyer who accepts a position with a small non-profit immigration organization may choose this option with the understanding that while the salary is below average, the job offers an opportunity to help people make life changes, pursue a legal process, assistance in conflicting situations. Not to mention that satisfaction rates are consistently higher for public interest attorneys. Many immigration lawyers even practice alone.

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