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There are 20,000 immigration attorneys in the U.S. Unfortunately, less than half of these are true professionals passionately dedicated to their clients. There are thousands who will offer you inexpensive or discounted fees. But be careful! These discount attorneys will likely lose your case and then blame the government. You may save $1000-2000 to begin with but you will lose thousands of dollars down the line as you have to hire a real attorney to file appeals or fight your deportation! Protect yourself by asking them these questions:

  1. Are you currently a member of the California State Bar? (This will tell you whether they are an actual lawyer or a fraud– then check www.calbar.ca.gov to see if they have ever been disciplined.)
  2. How long have you been an attorney? Be careful of trusting someone who has less than 5 years of experience as an attorney. Veterans with more than 10 years are safer to work with.)
  3. Are you currently a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association? (If they are not, then they are not dedicated to immigration law.)
  4. Do you have a list of testimonials from clients and other professionals who know your work intimately? (If they don’t, may be they haven’t done good enough work to earn them.)
  5. What other type of law do you practice? (If they practice more than immigration law, stay away from them; immigration law is so complicated you need someone who specializes in it.)
  6. Where did you go to law school? (Law school is where attorneys receive their training, if they went to an unknown law school then their skills may not have been developed properly.)
  7. May I see a legal brief or cover letter that you would use for my type of case? (Some lawyers will write a 3 page legal brief that is so inadequate that it will be ignored by a judge, others will write a 10 page carefully crafted brief that will win your case – which is worth paying for?)
  8. Have you practiced in front of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) or federal courts? (While most immigration attorneys have experience in immigration court, many are afraid to take cases to the BIA or federal courts such as a District Court or Court of Appeals.)
  9. What are the possible steps in my immigration case if I don’t win immediately and do you have experience in each of these? (When you are quoted a price from your immigration representative, is he or she telling you that your case will be completed for that amount? Or, are there other parts of your case that are being hidden from you? See below for The Nine Possible Parts of Your Immigration Case.)
  10. Have you helped overturn a wrongful criminal conviction for your clients? (Sometimes you can only stay in the U.S. if you get your conviction erased- does your attorney have experience with this?)