You may encounter a situation in which you need the assistance of an immigration attorney and you may realize that despite the number of qualified and competent immigration attorneys, there are also some that are not as good. But how do you determine this? This article will serve as a guide to help you with your task by providing some general tips in deciding which attorney is right for you as well as by giving guidance in what to expect in working with that attorney and his or her staff.

1. Do Some Research on Your Own.

Gather all of your immigration documents and any documents relating to your education, accomplishments, marriages, divorces, birth of children, and any arrests or convictions you may have faced.

Be clear about your goals and the steps needed to accomplish them.

For example, if you need an attorney to assist you in obtaining a waiver of a J-1 two year home residency requirement, find out some basic information about the J-1 waiver process so that you can better evaluate the basic knowledge of the attorney you choose to retain to assist you with this matter. Does the attorney seem to know how to initiate the process? Does he or she know what needs to be filed in order to obtain the immigration benefit desired? If you are seeking to have and H-1B processed and the attorney does not know that a Form I-129 is used for this, do not retain him or her.

Do not think, however, that you need to be an expert on the matter.

Immigration law can be very complex an a little bit of knowledge is can be a dangerous thing. There is a lot of information available out there and not all of it is accurate. It is imperative that you are honest in your dealings with the attorney; he or she needs to have a clear and accurate picture of your situation. If you have worked without permission, neglected to file tax forms, been arrested for anything, the lawyer needs to know this information as it can affect your immigration options. Your discussions with the attorney and his or her staff will always be confidential and it is therefore in your best interest to be completely honest as your situation may be more delicate than you initially perceived.

2. The Initial Consultation and the Initial Consultation Fee.

Once you have done your research and prepared your documents, you should set up an initial consultation, whether it is an in-person consultation or a consultation over the phone, with the attorney that you have decided to hire.

Prior to your consultation, you will be asked to complete and initial intake form and send copies of your current immigration documents. This is where your preparation will have paid off, as it will help speed up the process.

To make the most of your consultation, you should get these documents to the attorney before the consultation do that they can be reviewed an analyzed ahead of time.

The consultation may range anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. During the consultation, you should expect to leave with a preliminary analysis of your case and a plan for achieving your goals. The attorney may not be able to provide this information to you immediately in cases where specific research is required. If the attorney informs you that he or she must do some preliminary research, do not assume that he or she is not up to the task of representing you, especially if your case is unusual or complicated or if there have recently been changes in regulations pertaining to cases such as yours.

Many attorneys charge for initial consultations. This is not unusual as it does take an attorney time to read your documentation and provide legal analysis. Time spent on your case in these initial stages is time not spent working on cases for other clients. Some attorneys will deduct the price of the consultation from their legal fees if you decide to retain them for your case within a certain period of time.