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What is an Immigration Lawyer?

Mary McMahon
Updated Feb 29, 2024
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An immigration lawyer is a lawyer who specializes in immigration issues. These specialist attorneys assist people when they want to immigrate alone or with their families, and they also handle issues like moving businesses internationally, obtaining visas for workers and students, and asylum applications. Consulting an immigration lawyer before an international relocation is strongly recommended, as immigration law can be very complex, and immigration lawyers are skilled at navigating the complex bureaucracy involved with immigration.

Ideally, an immigration lawyer likes to see clients before they have immigrated, to discuss the move or trip and ways in which it can be made as efficient and pleasant as possible. The lawyer can assist the client with applying for an appropriate residency permit, such as a work permit, a student visa, or a temporary residency permit. In the case of someone who wants to pursue citizenship, the immigration lawyer can discuss the requirements for citizenship and the steps which will need to be taken.

Immigration lawyers also assist their clients during crises and other difficulties. For example, a student who is having trouble renewing his or her student visa might ask an immigration lawyer for assistance. People who have been brought up on immigration charges such as overstaying a visa or immigrating illegally may also use the services of an immigration lawyer to resolve their situations.

Refugee and asylum applications are also part of the work of an immigration lawyer. People who want to apply for asylum may choose to do so with the assistance of immigration lawyers who work with human rights organizations, utilizing the experience of the lawyer to press their case. It is also possible to contact an immigration lawyer about an asylum application once someone has already reached the country in which he or she wishes to seek asylum.

Some businesses utilize immigration lawyers along with business lawyers to move their businesses successfully between nations. Many businesses which offer employment to people from other countries also provide an immigration lawyer to handle the work permits and other immigration issues, as an incentive to make the international move.

Many nations have very detailed and sometimes confusing immigration codes, and the laws are adjusted all the time to cope with a variety of issues. The language of immigration can be intimidatingly confusing, especially for people who are not familiar with the official language of the country they are trying to immigrate to. Immigration lawyers help people avoid common pitfalls while smoothing the way to a successful visit or relocation to a different country.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon348809 — On Sep 20, 2013

Thanks for all the great advice. I told my friend I would help her find an immigration law attorney. Where would you suggest is the best place to start looking?

By anon348399 — On Sep 16, 2013

My friend is looking for an immigration attorney in Honolulu and this is really good to know!

By anon346317 — On Aug 27, 2013

I wasn't aware how much immigration solicitors could do for you. I think their skills, knowledge and expertise should definitely be utilized if you planning on doing something as big as immigrate.

By indistorm — On Aug 16, 2013

This is very true. I had two student visa rejections for Australia. I kept applying through the agents and was forced to defer my course until I found a good immigration attorney. It's always safe to spend a few more bucks to secure a whole lot of money we are going to invest. Hire an immigration lawyer always instead of relying on stupid agents.

By SZapper — On Jun 06, 2012

I think if I were ever going to immigrate somewhere, I would definitely find an immigration lawyer to help me. I was looking into the requirements for immigration to Canada quite awhile ago, and the whole thing seemed really complicated.

There were different ways you could qualify to become a resident, but then those ways varied by area of Canada. There were financial requirements, job requirements, and a whole bunch of other stuff. I can't imagine trying to go through that process without help!

By indemnifyme — On Jun 05, 2012

@strawCake - I feel like with so many news stories focusing on illegal immigration, it's easy to forget that some people immigrate to various countries completely legally! And having an immigrations lawyer help you can definitely make the process easier.

I actually had a friend in college who was an international student, and came from a fairly wealthy family. Her family kept an immigrations lawyer on retainer in case anything ever came up while she was in the United States.

She actually did need the lawyer a few times, for help renewing her student visa. From what she told me, the whole process was really easy with the lawyer involved.

By strawCake — On Jun 04, 2012

You know, I never thought about all of the reasons someone might need and immigration lawyer consultation if they were immigrating to a country legally. I always thought of immigration lawyers as helping people who immigrated to a country illegally and were trying to avoid being deported.

However, now that I've read this article, it makes a ton of sense to hire an immigration lawyer if you're immigrating somewhere legally, especially if there is a business involved. The whole process sounds really complicated, and it could probably really help to hire someone who actually knows what they're doing.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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