By Elissa (Ying) Lu
Historically San Francisco had been an immigrant gateway. Angel Island was a U.S. Immigration station. It processed around 500,000 immigrants from 80 countries between 1910 and 1940 and earned the name of “Ellis Island of the West”.
Today San Francisco is a multi-cultural city, the center of the technologies and innovations that attracts and welcomes people from all over the world. As soon as you step on the land of the United States, immigration issues will become unavoidable topics closely related to your daily life.
At the Law Office of Lu & Associates we provide legal services on the immigration law to businesses and individuals. Our mission is to provide strong and experienced representation our clients deserve.
How Immigration Lawyers Can Help
You are not required to retain an immigration attorney to present you in any immigrant or nonimmigrant matters. However, a knowledgeable attorney will give you hands-on guidance, which can increase the chances of approval.
It is very important to choose an experienced attorney who can walk you through the complicated, time sensitive and time-consuming process. Even a small mistake can be the reason of delays, requests for the additional evidence, denials or even deportation.
Speak with an immigration attorney if your case is complicated, such as involving a visa overstay, a criminal record, or unauthorized employment, etc.
In addition, whenever you are not sure about your status in the United States, you should consult an immigration attorney immediately, which may avoid unnecessary hassles you may encounter in the future.
Furthermore, when you have an immigration attorney representing you, you may be notified about changes of laws and procedures timely. This may completely change the outcome of your application. For example, applicants for F-1 OPT must file the Form I-765 during certain timeframes. However, Covid-19 has caused lockbox delays in issuing notice of rejection. Some applicants who timely filed Form I-765 for OPT and whose applications were later rejected are unable to timely refile within the required application timeframes. Realizing this problem, USCIS announced on February 26, 2021 that it would accept a refiled Form I-765 for OPT and STEM OPT if the original, timely filed application was received on or after October 1, 2020, through May 1, 2021, but USCIS subsequently rejected it. USCIS also announced that refiled applications must be received by May 31, 2021. If the applicant was not represented by an immigration lawyer, he/she may be unaware of that the rejected Form I-765 application could be resubmitted. The filing window was only alive for about three months. Without knowing this update, the applicant will miss the refiling opportunity and his/her opportunity to work in the U.S. as well.
Best immigration attorneys are professionals who listen to their clients. They analyze your case, tell you about the strengths and weaknesses of the case, build the winning strategies together with you, instruct you what supporting documents to collect, file your case in a timely manner, and minimize the risks of failure.
What to Look for in Finding a Best Immigration Attorney
If you want to hire a best immigration attorney, you should look for someone with great experience in the area of immigration law where you need service.
U.S. Immigration law is vast and complex. A lawyer only knows the basics is not capable of handling the complexity. It should be a red flag if a single attorney is practicing multiple areas of law (e.g., practicing immigration law along with family law and personal injury etc.) unless it is a large law firm that has different attorneys handling different areas of practice. Just like seeing doctors, you would like to see a specialist rather than a general doctor when you have a serious problem to fix. When you need immigration services, you should find an immigration lawyer, not a general practitioner.
In addition, when you look for the best immigration lawyer, it is advisable to choose the lawyer who is specialized in the category where you intend to apply. Immigration law can be divided into many categories, such as family-based immigration, employment-based immigration, non-immigrant visas, deportation and removal, asylum etc. Please be aware of the lawyers who claim to be specialized in all areas of the immigration law. An asylum lawyer may not be familiar enough about the EB-5 investment immigration visa because each subcategory of the immigration law involves a tremendous amount of laws, regulations, case laws and procedure updates.
Experience defines a good immigration lawyer.
Where to Find the Best Immigration Lawyer in San Francisco
First of all, make sure to contact a licensed “immigration lawyer”, but not “immigration consultant”, or “visa consultant” because the latter is not allowed to practice law.
Lawyers are required to complete the rigid legal education, pass the bar exam, register with the State Bar Association, and fulfill the Continuing Legal Education requirements even after becoming a lawyer.
Please note that immigration law is a federal law. The attorney registered with any State Bar Association can practice immigration law in any state.
However, immigration consultants’ services are very limited. They may help you fill out a form, but it is illegal for them to provide legal advice since they are not licensed to practice law. Due to the lack of training, immigration consultants may give you wrong information or mess up with the paperwork. The outcome of dealing with immigration consultants may irreversibly destroy your case.
Probably the best way to find a good immigration attorney is the word-of-mouth. Your friends and family who worked with the particular immigration attorney would give you more information than you can find from the Internet and social media.
The contemporary style of word-of-mouth is Google Review. Google Review provides valuable information about clients’ experience with the attorney or the law firm. According to the statistics, 89% of consumers have read Google Review and made their decisions based on them. Read our firm’s client testimony here.
The other good online source of the information about immigration lawyers is AILA, the American Immigration Lawyers Association. AILA is a reputable, professional organization that the majority of the immigration attorneys join. However, AILA does not provide a rating of its members.
Good immigration lawyer has never been disciplined by the State Bar Association. Contact the State Bar where the immigration lawyer is admitted and find out if the lawyer had complaints or disciplinary actions in the past.
After you select several candidates, you should interview the immigration lawyers. Many law firms offer free initial consultations, including the Law Office of Lu & Associates. You should conduct the consultation via phone, Zoom or in person. This is an opportunity for you to ask questions and determine if your needs match the lawyer’s expertise.
Immigration cases are time sensitive, and it is very important that the immigration lawyer you retain responses within a reasonable time frame. Ask the lawyer how long it typically takes him or her to get back to you, their level of experience in similar cases like yours and how your case will be handled. By asking questions, you will have a comparison of the immigration lawyers. Pay close attention to how knowledgeable the attorney is about your issue, the problem-solving skills, communication skills and personalities. Immigration is a long process; you need to work with someone that you like and trust.
Ask the lawyer how much his/her service would cost. Be aware of extremely low price as there may be hidden costs for responding to Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID). If you do not see terms about RFE or NOID, ask about it. When comparing prices, always consider the experience before the price.
How the Law Office of Lu & Associates Can Help You
The Law Office of Lu & Associates practices in the following areas of immigration law:
- Temporary work visas;
- Employment-based immigration;
- Investment immigration;
- Family-based immigration; and
- Citizenship through naturalization.
Attorneys at the Law Office of Lu & Associates have kept an outstanding track record in helping their clients achieve their immigration goals. The team at the Law Office of Lu & Associates genuinely cares for the clients and is very passionate about justice.
If you would like to schedule an in-person or phone/Zoom consultation, please send us an email to email@example.com or give us a call at (415) 992-8806. Or, you may also conveniently schedule your free initial consultation on our website. We look forward to working with you!