Frequently Asked Questions
What is a strategy session?
Unlike many lawyers, we do look at your short summary of your case, and may engage in a preliminary email with you for free to get an initial sense of what the case is, and whether it may be the type of immigration matter we accept. That short communication is not intended to be a full analysis of the case, nor legal advice, nor does it create an attorney/client relationship.
At that time we will set up a meeting for a strategy session for you. The session will be for as much time as needed up to an hour. We do charge a reasonable rate for that meeting. Obtaining a proper detailed legal analysis of your case is key. It will determine how you proceed from there, if at all, and whether you and we agree we are a good team, or if we think there is a better lawyer for your specific issue.
Immigration law is different from other areas of law. If you have a car accident, the lawyer can do a free consultation, because he will be paid from the amount of money he wins in the case. In immigration cases, if you win, you get to stay in the U.S. Immigration cases are highly technical, require serious expertise, proper analysis, and proper preparation. They require extensive documentation. To provide that requires more than a 15 minute free “consultation.”
Why should I get a strategy session now; I can wait.
Immigration cases are usually lengthy and require a full knowledge of what has already happened.
For example, many children of university age choose not to immigrate with their parents. Later, after they’ve turned 21 years old, there is a very long waiting line, which they clearly had not considered when making the original choice. A full explanation of pros and cons of various different approaches is needed to make the best choice.
We’ve also seen cases in which many years have passed without someone following up on a case that was done by a family member in another state or by someone else, and then suddenly the person decides he wants to get married in a few months and comes to us at that point. It simply may not be possible to obtain the history of the case and determine the status in that amount of time. It can take 8 months or more to obtain a copy of the file under the Freedom of Information Act.
Our advice, like that of any attorney, is only as good as the information on which it is based. When a family member filed a petition many years ago, for example, we need to find out what happened. Sometimes, it won’t be pertinent to the current case to obtain a copy of the file, but if we do need it, it will take longer than a few months to be able to get the information based on which we can properly advise you.
Even if we don’t need to get prior records, don’t wait to meet with us until you want to get married this weekend in another country and bring your spouse with you, because that will not happen. Please have a strategy session with us right away to avoid increased stress at the time of your wedding, or starting school or a new job.
Don’t I just need to know the form to fill out?
Immigration law is not only complicated but extensive. There is a very large body of law that comes from numerous different sources including USCIS, ICE, CBP, DOL, DOS, EOIR, and federal courts, not to mention policy guidance and government memorandums. Not only is there a huge amount of law involved in immigration cases, that law is continuously changing, and procedures change even faster! It is often stated the immigration law is now more complicated even than the tax code, and in fact is the most complicated and technical area of law in the country.
Why would a lawyer need to research the law, shouldn’t they know the law?
For the same reasons as explained above, it is important that you understand that even lawyers who do focus their work entirely on immigration law don’t usually advise on every type of immigration matter.
No attorney will ever always know every answer without investigation. An attorney may inform you that she needs to research a particular issue or requires more information to be able to advise you. We advise our clients only when we are as certain as possible about our answer.
With nearly 30 years of experience specifically in immigration law, we are very knowledgeable and usually know the answer, but on occasion we want to clarify a specific point. We much prefer to tell you we need to research the issue, rather than tell you something that may not be accurate. We are very proud, in fact, that the comment we hear most often from our clients is how much they appreciate our honesty!
Why does it seem like I as the client am doing a lot of work?
Immigration cases are best done as a team. We work together with our clients to present the evidence of the facts of the case and the law in the strongest way. We can’t do it without you. We likely will need evidence from you, and, depending on the case, request you to obtain documents or obtain evaluations that are necessary for your case. Frequently, we need to know all of your employment for the last five years, your residences for the last five years, even your parents’ dates of birth and places of birth. Then we’ll take it from there.
Like individuals, each client is different, but we find that clients appreciate being involved in their own cases. It gives them a sense of being able to facilitate and participate in a situation that is otherwise substantially out of their control, yet will have a big impact on their life.
This is general information and does not constitute legal advice; each case must be analyzed independently. Nothing here creates an attorney/client relationship; each potential client must set up an appointment for proper analysis, and written agreement if after a full analysis we both agree in writing that we accept to represent the case and you also agree that you want us to represent your case as detailed specifically in the written contract.
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