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Before you begin your search for an immigration lawyer, here are Four Steps to take before your first meeting with an Immigration Lawyer. This checklist will help you enter your first consultation prepared and help guide you when searching for the right immigration lawyer.

Step 1: Assess your legal needs

Take the time to address what your current legal status is and do some research to find out what steps will need to be taken in the future to ensure that all of your legal immigration requirements will be met. Maybe you just recently decided to immigrate to the United States for work or family but don’t know where to start. Or perhaps you’ve just decided to get married to a foreign national. You might even already be a permanent resident in the United States but are thinking of becoming a U.S. citizen at some point in the future. You might even be an undocumented person who after careful consideration wants to transition to a legal status but needs guidance on how to ensure every step forward is done legally. No matter what your current immigration status is, it is critical that during these early stages you take the time to research and get legal consultation. Preparing as much as possible during the early stages of US immigration can prevent numerous legal problems further down the line. Another benefit of preparing ahead of time is that by learning the basic information and requirements regarding your immigration needs, you will have an important outline to work with when searching for the right immigration lawyer and provide you with a solid starting point.

A great place to start is the official United States government immigration website, US Citizenship and Immigration Services also known as USCIS,

Step 2: Know what to expect from an Immigration Lawyer

The right immigration lawyer should be able to give you an honest and thorough assessment of your case and be able to explain the options that are available to you based on not only the current law, but also changes that are in the legislative and judicial pipeline at any given time. The lawyer can then work with you to prepare your case and represent you in front of the administrative agency handling your application. The lawyer should be able to explain to the government agency why your case meets the requirements of the law and if problems arise, will use additional resources to help resolve the issue or prepare your case for an appeal. These are the minimum services any good lawyer should provide. If at any point you feel that your lawyer is not providing these basic provisions it’s time to reassess your lawyer and see where improvements can be made or get a new lawyer.

Step 3: Honesty is the Best Policy

This point can’t be stressed enough. Before you begin your search for an immigration lawyer it is critical that you accept that the best way for your lawyer to help you will mean that you will need to be completely honest in your dealings with that lawyer. The lawyer will need to have a clear, accurate picture of your situation. If you have worked without permission, neglected to file tax forms or been arrested the lawyer needs to know as it may affect your immigration options. Remember that your discussions with the lawyer and his/her staff are confidential. By withholding information not only are you doing yourself and your family a disservice but you are also preventing your lawyer from doing their job as best as possible in defending you. Honesty is always the absolute best policy.

Step 4: Gather All Your Documents

If there is one thing that is certain no matter what kind of immigration case you have it is that there will be alot of paperwork and documentation required. In almost every case, your lawyer will need to see just about everything in anyway, shape or form to your case. Gather all of your immigration documents, which include any documents relating to your education, financial statements and account information, tax information, rental and lease agreements, mortgage and home ownership documentation, accomplishments, marriages, divorces, birth of children, arrests or convictions, etc. Before you head out to your first consultation with a potential lawyer, be prepared and bring everything.