A Career in Law comes with different specializations, which gives the students multiple pathways to choose what fits their interests. Environmental Law, Cyber Law, Criminal Law, Civil Law, and Labor Law courses are some of the choices of the candidates.
In contrast, a lesser-known profession with the potential to provide candidates with a tremendous and better career is Immigration law.
Like any other law practitioner, an immigration lawyer handles the issues of people concerned with meeting the requirements of the migration process. This article will discuss how to become an immigration lawyer in detail for you.
Who an Immigration Lawyer is
This legal personnel specializes in resolving issues related to obtaining visas, citizenship denials, and appealing citizenship denials.
To succeed in this field, a person needs to have a deep knowledge and understanding of the migration laws of different countries and the process of applying for the same. The main job description of an immigration lawyer includes
- assisting clients with immigration paperwork,
- relocating businesses outside the country,
- advising clients on becoming permanent residents or citizens of the country.
How to Become an Immigration Lawyer
Below here are the six steps on how to become an immigration lawyer ;
#1. You have to obtain a bachelor’s degree in Law
Before law school, prospective lawyers must obtain a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree can be in any field of Law, but some fields make it easier to get into law school because they provide you with significant knowledge and skills to enhance your legal career and practice. The focus during undergraduate studies is:
- Political science
- International studies
These areas of study cover topics like the politics of immigration, labor laws, and the most common reasons for immigration. They also provide the candidates with critical thinking and strong writing skills, from which all lawyers benefit.
#2. Obtain a J.D. (Juris Doctor)
After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Law, it will be time to pursue your J.D. from a law school. It helps in specialization in immigration law to prepare me better for my future career. It gives them more experience within the field, which helps them after obtaining their law license.
#3. Having hands-on experience
During studies and after graduation, it is crucial to get hands-on e
xperience because many employers and clients look for this when considering who to hire. Whenever they can, it’s good to seek out internships, part-time jobs, and volunteer opportunities that will help them to gain exposure to anything related to their specialization.
Gaining experience from an immigration law firm will be preferable to future clients, and employers may prefer experience with immigration law.
#4. Developed skills
While working and studying, find time to also work on your skills. Among the skills that all influential lawyers are expected to have, immigration lawyers have another set of skills to concentrate on.
Skills that all lawyers utilize include:
- Public speaking
- Analytical thinking
- Reading and writing
For immigration law, other skills to focus on are:
- Social media literacy
- Active listening
- Additional languages
- An Eye for Detail
- A Thirst for Knowledge
- Strong Communication Skills
They might develop some of these skills during their undergraduate and graduate course of study. They can also take courses at a local community college, online courses, or develop the skills independently. For example, you could teach yourself a common second language in your area using online resources or a phone app.
#5. Earning certifications
Although they are not required to earn a specific certification to become an immigration lawyer, obtaining certain certifications can help make them a more attractive option to clients, especially in some states.
States like Florida, California, Texas, and North Carolina all now offer specializations in immigration law through their respective bar associations. Passing one of these certification tests demonstrates to their potential clients their competence in immigration law.
There are also online courses that are available that can provide you with additional knowledge on how to run your immigration paralegal assistance office, also various ethical codes that are related to immigration law, and the best methods to overcome communication barriers.
#6. Gather clients
When they finish their education and pass the state bar exam, the last step is to get their first clients. To do this, you are advised to either join an existing law firm that specializes in immigration law or you can start as a solo practitioner that focuses on immigration law.
Joining an existing law firm gives you a support system and the opportunity to start working with clients immediately.
To get a job at an immigration law firm, they should focus on developing their skills and outside experience, as this makes their resume more likely to get attention from a recruiter.
Starting as a solo practitioner gives them more flexibility regarding who they work with, when, and where they work. However, this requires marketing your services and establishing a solid reputation. Solo practitioners often rely mainly on advertising and networking when first practicing.
The tasks or duties of Immigration lawyers, among others, include;
To prepare visa, adjustment of status, permanent residency, and citizenship petitions;
To Fight deportation cases instituted against their clients;
- To represent their clients in varieties of matters before U.S. immigration courts;
- To obtain immigration benefits for the loved ones of permanent residents and U.S. citizens; (a foreign spouse, for instance);
- They help U.S. employers to hire and retain foreign workers; and
- They prepare applications for political asylum and other humanitarian immigration advantages.
Eligibility Criteria for immigration law
The eligibility criteria for law courses vary depending on the program and university chosen. Most students opt for B.A. Latin legum baccalaureus ( LLB) or LLB programs to become a lawyer. Later, the students can go for LLM (Latin legum magister) master of law specializations.
Educational Qualifications for an immigration lawyer
For LLB Bachelors of Law): You must have completed a bachelor’s degree for 3-4 years in any field from a recognized university.
For LLM (Masters of Law): They must have a Bachelor of law degree from a well-known law university, and some universities will prefer candidates with prior experience in Law.
For LLD ( Doctors of Law): They must have gotten a Ph.D. degree in an essential field with 6-10 years of work experience in the industry.
Time required to become an immigration lawyer
From High School Graduate to Licensed Attorney
An aspiring immigration lawyer has a total of 7 years of full-time study after high school to obtain a Juris Doctor degree (LLD). They will also need a few more months to pass the bar exam and meet local bar association requirements. Those who pass the bar exam on the first trial can be licensed as attorneys about seven and a half years after high school.
The average salary of an immigration lawyer
The average Salary of an Immigration Attorney in the United States is $83,466 as of the 26th of January, 2023, but the salary ranges from $71,154 and $96,549.
Cons and Pros of being an immigration lawyer
- Helping others
Immigration lawyers help their clients through significant transitions in their lives. For instance, they can help foreign citizens apply for U.S. citizenship to improve their livelihood.
- Learning different areas of Law
Immigration law intersects with other areas of the Law, like business, family, and criminal Law.
- Advancing your career
Having experience as an immigration lawyer helps prepare you for different career advancement options. Some immigration lawyers also become university faculty members to teach students about some aspects of immigration law.
- Unhealthy work-life balance
Some immigration lawyers, mainly those new to the field, work longer than other professionals.
- Lower salary
Though these lawyers can make lucrative salaries, they still make less than lawyers specializing in other areas of the Law.
- Stressful work
Immigration lawyers represent clients facing complex life challenges that make their work stressful.
Many immigrants hire an immigration lawyer to assist them when they want to settle down in another country. These lawyers can help them with legal representation and advice during their application process. If you are considering representing yourself, please evaluate the benefits of hiring a lawyer.