Looking For Immigration Lawyer Options
Q: I plan to start my GC process soon. Can anyone recommend a good lawyer in the NJ area who can do the job. I am looking for one who would do a professional job and not give the run around. I would appreciate it if some one would give their personal experience.
A: I don't have personal experience, but here are some suggestions. For any major university, call the office which is responsible for international students and scholars, and ask for referrals to immigration attorneys in New Jersey. Drew University, International Students, 202-408-3904 or 201-408-3211 Princeton University, not sure of office name, but try 609-258-2500 Rutgers University, New Brunswick, Center for International Faculty and Student Services, 908-932-7015 Rutgers University, Newark, International Student Office, 201-648-5980 You can check if the referrals are members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association at http://ilw.com/ailalist/ Though there will surely be exceptions, I think it's best for the attorney to have at least 5 years' experience practicing in the field of immigration, and to have his/her practice be virtually 100% in the field of immigration. While searching for the right attorney, you should ask the attorney for references among his/her existing/former clients, and put together your criteria for what you are looking for. That list could include such factors as (in no particular order): 1. Proven competence of attorney and staff 2. Integrity and honesty of attorney 3. Costs involved/arrangements for payment 4. Communications 5. Problem management 6. And most important, "Etc." A bad attorney will generally "mess up" with many clients, but will also have a couple of success stories. A very good attorney will also have a few unhappy clients. When asking for references from the attorney, I think it is a good idea to specify your criteria for selecting the references, so that you are not just given the names of the "professional references." For instance, you might ask for 3 references that meet the following criteria: 1. The most recent client to obtain employment-based permanent resident status 2. A client who is in the middle of the process, e.g. has I-140 approved, and I-485 filed within the last month or two; or the most recent client to have labor certification approved, if that is the way you have to go 3. A client who has had permanent resident status between 6 months and a year This allows you to evaluate how the attorney is doing on a variety of areas. It also limits the references the attorney can give you. (For instance, if the most recent permanent residence approval was last September, you can ask why no one has been granted permanent resident status since then. The mid-process client could give you a good idea of how long the process has taken for him.
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