Whether you are an immigrant trying to settle in a new land or a concerned community member looking to help, understanding current immigration laws and securing reliable legal advice is crucial.
Out of all immigration cases that resulted in removal orders, more than 75% were heard without legal representation according to recent studies. Many factors contribute to immigration case decisions, but competent legal representation can certainly enable aspiring citizens to better articulate their circumstances and seek relief. In addition, immigration legal representation can save hearing time by presenting focused testimony and evidence relevant to current laws, paving the way for quicker, more informed rulings in court.
Identifying an Immigration Attorney or Legal Assistance to Match Your Needs
There are various resources available to help you seek legal advice, legal representation in court, pro bono support, or fee assistance for immigration applications. If you are not sure of your current status or what type of case support you are seeking, it is advisable to start with nonprofit organizations in your area that offer free or low-cost legal assistance to immigrants. For individuals in the Pittsburgh region, the Immigration Legal Services staff at JFCS Pittsburgh can help identify various options or navigate a waiting list.
Online directories such as the Immigration Advocates Network search engine or The United States Department of Justice Pro Bono Legal Providers by State are excellent resources to find non-profit or Pro Bono attorneys in your region. Attorneys may be able to assist with a broad range of immigration matters or they may specialize in only a few specific areas, such as asylum applications and interviews; Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA); Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) petitions; and employment authorization, to name a few.
How to Select the Right Immigration Attorney
Narrow your search and make an initial call to learn more specifically about their expertise and recent casework for immigration matters similar to yours. You may be interested to learn the locations of their offices, the size of their legal team, and details about professional fees, if applicable.
If you feel the organization is a good fit to support your specific needs, then take the next step to schedule a free consultation. It is okay to reach out to several organizations and even schedule more than one consultation appointment before entering into a formal agreement. Read more about how to prepare for your first meeting with an immigration attorney.
The Importance of Sole Representation in Immigration Cases
In immigration matters, it is important to have a single attorney represent you. Rest assured that, once you have entered an agreement for representation, your attorney is working diligently to bring your case to a swift resolution. Reaching out to other attorneys while your case is active will not speed the process. The court may assess fines to attorneys who are attempting to present the same immigration case.
Working Together Throughout Your Immigration Journey
Navigating immigration matters can be challenging, but with the right legal guidance and community support, you can work toward a successful and legally compliant immigration journey. Do everything you can to provide thorough and honest information to your immigration attorney, and be prompt with communication and appointments. Throughout the process, you can track your case by entering the 13-character receipt number at https://egov.uscis.gov/.
About JFCS Pittsburgh Immigration Legal Services
Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS) Pittsburgh offers a range of services and resources to community members in need of legal advice relating to immigration matters. For more information, please call JFCS Senior Services at (412) 422-7200 or visit www.jfcspgh.org/immigration-legal-services.