Immigration Lawyer vs. Consultant
Immigration lawyers, or attorneys, have much more legal experience than consultants. Immigration lawyers must attend law school and complete a three-year degree in order to become a lawyer. They are also required to complete the bar exam in order to become legally registered and many undergo an internship period with a law firm during, or after, their studies. Most law programs also require an undergraduate degree before attending law school, which means that lawyers generally have several years of post-secondary education.
Immigration lawyers are also able to attend immigration interviews with you, and can advocate for your application in a Canadian court of law in the rare case that your application is brought under judicial review.
Conversely, immigration consultants are not lawyers. They do not attend law school and generally undergo a one-year certification in order to become registered. It is also not required for immigration consultants to have completed an undergraduate degree to start their certification.
While immigration consultants are legally able to represent you, only lawyers are allowed to advocate on your behalf in federal court, in the event that it is required.
What About an Immigration Consultant Instead of an Immigration Lawyer?
Immigration consultants also provide services to immigrants, but these services can be limited. They can fill out immigration forms for you, but they cannot appear in Federal Court if necessary when the case is refused.
In Canada, the immigration consultant occupation generally only requires a certificate or diploma while immigration lawyers have gone through university and then law school. Immigration lawyers are regulated by their Provincial or State Bars while immigration consultants, in Canada, must be members Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC), which as it turns out, does seem to have the resources nor will take disciplinary action where there is misconduct.
There have been many cases in the media during the past year where immigration consultants have overcharged clients, not done the work the client paid for or even blackmailed clients into paying more money before having them deported. This is not to say all consultants are bad. There are many good, ethical and qualified ones. However, clients will have little to no recourse, it seems, using an immigration consultant if something does go wrong. This is not the case when using a licensed immigration lawyer.
What is the Role of an Immigration Lawyer?
The role of an immigration lawyer is somewhat unique when compared with other types of lawyers. Most immigration lawyers spend their time helping persons who are having difficulty dealing with immigration requirements.
The role of immigration lawyers is usually that of an advisor or counselor to foreign citizens and immigrants who must interact with U.S. immigration authorities. Immigration lawyers provide advice and guidance for matters such as visa applications, green cards, citizenship and naturalization, deportation issues, and employment for non-citizens.
Immigration lawyers spend far less time handling civil disputes in court than other types of lawyers. Instead, they usually act as mediators between clients and immigration authorities such as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
On the other hand, immigration lawyers do make appearances before immigration judges if a client is facing an immigration hearing. Many immigration lawyers also handle matters involving an interaction between immigration and criminal laws.
Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner
You do not have to have a law degree, or any degree, to give immigration advice regulated by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner. You will need to pass an examination and meet the standards required by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner. The timescale for becoming an immigration advisor regulated by the OISC is generally much quicker than that for becoming a barrister, solicitor, or member of the Institute of Legal Executives.
Unlike solicitors and barristers, who can give advice on area of immigration, asylum and nationality law, to any level, those regulated by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner can decide which areas of immigration, asylum and nationality law they wish to do, and the level to which they wish to do them. There are three levels of regulation. Regulation by the OISC allows you to give advice on only on the immigration matters for which you are regulated, to the level at which you are regulated. Those working at level three can appear before the Immigration and Asylum chambers of of the Tribunal and those working at levels two and three may be able to join a licensed access scheme that will allow them to instruct a barrister to represent their clients. OISC registered advisors cannot lodge applications and conduct proceedings in the higher courts.
It is possible for solicitors and barristers, whether practising or not, to qualify as OISC regulated advisors.
Essential Traits Of The Best Immigration Lawyers
While you are not entitled to 100% of an immigration lawyer’s time, you may expect a good immigration lawyer to be available when you need them. When faced with an emergency, however, the attorney should be able to respond quickly to your situation. Also, ask who would be the backup professional to help in case your attorney is not available at the time.
Besides academic achievements, you should determine how many years of experience the immigration lawyer may have with your case type. Look for one who specializes in immigration and check out their credentials. Is the attorney well respected by peers, or won awards? If you reside in Texas, has the individual been recognized by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Immigration and Nationality Law?
Excellent Reputation And References
Seeking a lawyer who specializes specifically in immigration matters is the right starting point. Law firms like Davis & Associates in Dallas TX work exclusively on immigration matters such as:
- Family and business immigration
- Visas and green cards
- Political asylum
- Deportation issues
Always ask for bonafide references and look for personal testimonials to determine what experience others have had in dealing with your prospective immigration lawyer. Ask about the types of cases the lawyer has handled and the outcomes.
Also, check online search engines and social media sites for reviews from other clients.
The best immigration lawyers are successful because they can draw logical conclusions from a wide range of situations and variables. Because they frequently appear in courts and before immigration officials, they should be well prepared with reasonable arguments and must remain confident and decisive at all times.
A competent immigration lawyer draws from experience, recent research, analytics, and logic to find unique and innovative strategies to accomplish the goal. The best immigration lawyers also demonstrate perseverance when representing their clients, always creating new solutions whenever roadblocks appear.
Excellent Communication And Public Speaking Skills
Precise communication with you, the client, is critical. The ability to communicate well in negotiations and while presenting your case is also essential. Often, the lawyer will need to think about and respond to challenges on the spot and must do so with confidence.
People Skills And Compassion
Immigration lawyers should be personable and persuasive. How the lawyer is viewed can reflect directly on your case. If your representative is easily angered or rude, your case will suffer. Avoiding confrontation while presenting an argument is vital to success.
Immigration officials prefer to work with immigration lawyers who can communicate professionally, demonstrate reasonableness, are knowledgeable, and show a genuine commitment to their clients.