Immigration Attorneys - Getting your Money's Worth
by: Carl Shusterman, Attorney-At-Law
Your First Consultation
This may be the first time that you have ever visited an attorney's office. You are nervous. You don't know what to expect.
Is this going to cost a lot of money? If you tell the lawyer that you are illegal, will he use this information against you? Should
you bring your passport? Should you go alone or with your spouse? Should you bring any paperwork along with you?
A lot of people come to my office on their first visit totally unprepared. "May I see your passport?", I ask. "I didn't bring
any paperwork", they answer, "I thought that this was only a consultation."
What is a consultation? In my office, it is a 30-minute appointment where I meet with a client, ask him questions, examine
his immigration paperwork, and make some tentative recommendations about how I propose to obtain a temporary visa,
permanent residence or citizenship on his behalf. I make sure that I give my clients plenty of time to ask questions, make
comments, and to fully understand their alternatives, including their option to do nothing if they so choose.
Each of our clients completes a six-page "intake sheet" in our waiting room before meeting with me in my office. It is
important that the person arrive 15-20 minutes before their scheduled appointment time in order to complete this sheet fully
All too often, persons leave important parts of the intake sheet blank, forcing me to waste their valuable time asking
questions that should have been answered on the form: "When did you enter the US? When to did your visa expire? Where
are you working? Where are your spouse and children?" Too often, people have been taken advantage of in the past by
consultants or even by attorneys, and they are afraid to tell the truth to me.
Trust is all-important at the consultation. As I frequently tell potential clients, "All of my consultations are confidential. Lying
to me is like cheating at solitaire - you are only hurting your own chances of obtaining immigration benefits if you are less
than fully honest with me. If you have committed some type of fraud, you may be eligible for a waiver. If you were secretly
married in your country, please tell me about it."
I can only help those who tell me the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth!
The Right Way
Bring your passport, your work permit, and all of your other immigration papers to your consultation. If you plan to obtain
permanent residence through your spouse or your fiancee, make sure that they accompany you to your interview.
Why? Because, lawyers are not mind readers. If you entered the U.S. using another name, the lawyer needs to see if you
are eligible for a fraud waiver. The new law has changed the rules regarding fraud waivers dramatically. If you asylum or
late amnesty application was less than honest, you do not want to go to an INS interview and perjure yourself. The results
could lead to your deportation. Better to withdraw the application, and to obtain a green card through a relative or a job.
Don't hand me a jumble of paperwork. Try to be organized. Show all of your papers. Tell the truth. And bring a list of
Time is growing short. Don't be caught short-handed.
Note: The information provided herein is of general nature, and should not be construed as legal advice.