Getting Legal Help
Who can help me with my immigration case?
Only lawyers or "BIA accredited representatives" can help you with immigration problems. A BIA accredited representative is someone who is specifically authorized by the United States government to help complete immigration applications. Ask the person who is going to help you if he or she is a lawyer or a BIA accredited representative. Lawyers have licenses, and each state keeps a record of them. All BIA accredited representatives work at nonprofit organizations, and the immigration court keeps a record of them. Other people charging for immigration help, like "immigration consultants" or "notarios," are breaking the rules by working on immigration cases. If you have been harmed by an immigration consultant or notario, you can take steps that may help you and stop the person from harming other people. To learn more about immigration fraud and what to do if you are a victim of immigration fraud, please visit Stop Notario Fraud or Fight Notario Fraud.
How can I find help with my immigration case?
ImmigrationLawHelp.org includes information about nonprofit organizations that provide free or low-cost legal help and that have lawyers or BIA accredited representatives on staff. The nonprofit organizations listed in this directory may not be able to help you if you earn too much money, if you have the kind of case they don't work on, or if they already have too many cases. Some nonprofits charge nominal fees for immigration help. Information about whether a nominal fee is charged is available for each organization on ImmigrationLawHelp.org. If you do not qualify for free or low-cost legal help, you can hire a private lawyer to help you with your case. To find a private lawyer who knows about immigration law, visit AILA's Immigration Lawyer Search.
Will it cost money to talk to a lawyer?
It may cost money to have your first meeting or "consultation" with a lawyer or BIA accredited representative. You should ask about consultation fees before making an appointment. Talking to a lawyer or BIA accredited representative does not mean that they will accept your case.
What do I need to know if my case is accepted?
If a lawyer or BIA accredited representative accepts your case, it is important to have a written agreement about what he or she will do for you, how much it will cost, and what you need to do to help with your case. Some immigration cases or applications could take several years and may have many steps. You and your lawyer or BIA accredited representative have to work closely together and you should tell each other whenever there is new information about your case. Always let your lawyer or BIA accredited representative know if you move or change your phone number so that they can contact you when they need to.
It is important to tell your immigration lawyer or BIA accredited representative the whole story and answer all questions honestly. This information will help them know what kind of application(s) to make. Tell the lawyer about any other applications you have made, any time you went to a court, any time you had a problem with the police, any fake documents you used, any time you entered or left the United States, and anything else that you think is important about your case. The lawyer or BIA accredited representative can tell you if there is a way to fix any problems with your case. You may hurt your case if you try to hide a problem. The government will check all records with your fingerprints, and may find out about any problems.