“KING MINOS'S LABYRINTH IN ANCIENT CRETE”
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York said it best: “The statutory scheme defining and delimiting the rights of aliens is exceedingly complex. Courts and commentators have stated that the Immigration and Nationality Act resembles ‘King Minos's labyrinth in ancient Crete,' and is ‘second only to the Internal Revenue Code in complexity.'”` Chan v. Reno, 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3016, *5 (S.D.N.Y. 1997) (citations omitted).
As labyrinthine and complex as the Immigration and Nationality Act is, the Act only comprises a small portion of immigration law. In fact, immigration law also consists of Title 8 as well as parts of other titles in the United States Code, administrative decisions, judicial decisions, agency memoranda, and executive orders. A layperson will understandably get lost within minutes of entering this legal maze.
WHAT CAN AN IMMIGRATION LAWYER DO FOR ME?
An experienced and skilled immigration lawyer can guide you through the labyrinth and avoid the pitfalls that await inside. An experienced immigration lawyer can take the mystery out of the process and guide your matter to a smooth resolution. He or she can distinguish between routine government processing delays and dangerous processing errors, and can also prevent mistakes from delaying or even denying an application.
IMMIGRATION ERRORS CAN BE COSTLY
The filing fees for immigration applications can be hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars. If a case is denied due to an avoidable error, those fees may have to be paid again. But having to pay expensive filing fees is a small problem compared to the other problems improper filings can cause. A mistake in the process or application can result in deportation, permanent exclusion from the United States, criminal penalties, and delays that can last for years.
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CRIMINAL AND IMMIGRATION LAW
Even minor crimes can have huge immigration consequences. A single DUI can result in the denial of certain discretionary applications including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Any noncitizen faced with a criminal charge must consider the immigration consequences of the charge before walking into a criminal court. It is a very frequent occurrence that an alien agrees to plead guilty to a crime in order to avoid jail time only to later discover that the plea renders him deportable from the United States and permanently barred from returning. For this and many other reasons it is exceedingly important that an alien charged with a crime have an immigration lawyer on his team, or to hire a firm, like Berke Law Offices, Inc., that has a proven track record with both criminal defense and immigration law.
HOW TO CHOOSE AN IMMIGRATION LAWYER
Immigration cases can take years to complete, and open communication between the attorney and the client is perhaps the most important factor in determining the success or failure of an immigration case. Make sure that the attorney is licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction. Do not hire a law firm before meeting the attorney personally and confirming that he or she has experience in handling your specific type of case. Make sure the attorney can clearly explain the fees he will be charging and gives you a written fee agreement so that your obligations are clear. Attorneys who are members of the American Immigration Lawyer Association are generally dedicated to the practice of immigration law and hold themselves to high standards for legal education and knowledge.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR A CONSULTATION
Be prepared to pay for a consultation. In immigration law, more so than in most other areas of law, the consultation is all the client needs and there will be no “case” for the attorney to open. Absent a consultation fee, the attorney may feel more inclined to do work that is unnecessary or withhold giving valuable advice or analysis. Make sure you bring ALL available paperwork to your consultation. An attorney can give you better and more accurate advice the more he knows about your case. Particularly in immigration matters, what happened in the past is critical to what can be done in the future. So gather every document you can and bring them to your consultation.
HOW MUCH SHOULD I EXPECT TO PAY
Immigration consultations vary from attorney to attorney. At Berke Law Offices, Inc., we charge $350 for a standard consultation. Immigration cases can range in price from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars depending on many, many factors. It is common for immigration lawyers to charge flat-rates for their services. At Berke Law Offices, Inc., we charge flat rates for most matters and you can find out what we charge for a particular application type simply by calling our offices. We also offer payment terms for our fees. Flat rates tend to be lower than attorney's hourly rates. Depending on the locale, an experienced immigration attorney may charge between $200 and $400 per hour.