Immigration lawyers play an important role in interpreting U.S. law and helping individuals through the complicated immigration process in the United States. These laws are notoriously difficult and most people trying to gain American citizenship or applying for visas will need legal advice on the matter. Even the smallest mistakes can result in application delays or deportation. If you’re searching for immigration lawyers in South Carolina, keep reading for everything you need to know before appointing an attorney to work on your behalf.
Who is an Immigration Lawyer?
An immigration lawyer is a legal professional that specializes in complex U.S. immigration law. They guide people that are immigrants through the legal proceedings and application processes for visas, green cards, and U.S. citizenship. They also fully understand peoples' civil rights in matters such as deportation, non-citizen employment, and your naturalization status. This comprehensive knowledge is then used to represent clients in disputes with immigration authorities or help with lengthy application paperwork to assist their clients in remaining in the United States.
What Does an Immigration Law Attorney Do?
The primary role of South Carolina immigration lawyers is to help immigrants with their applications to stay in the USA. They complete and provide legal advice on applications for visas, green cards, and citizenship to help avoid delays due to legal technicalities. However, most of their time is spent mediating disputes between their clients and immigration authorities, such as the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In some cases, immigration law attorneys will also represent their clients at immigration court hearings in front of a judge to get the case dismissed or file appeals for unfavorable decisions made by the courts.
When to Hire an Immigration Lawyer in South Carolina?
Any non-citizen looking to live in the U.S. would benefit from hiring a South Carolina immigration lawyer. They help to ensure the application for changing their immigration status is accepted and avoid all unnecessary delays relating to legal technicalities. However, many immigrants choose to represent themselves when changing their legal status. With that being said, the below are situations where hiring a South Carolina immigration law attorney is necessary:
You have previous criminal convictions: Anyone with previous criminal activity will need to declare this on their application. An immigration lawyer can help understand the overlap between immigration and criminal law for a better chance of application acceptance.
Your application has previously been denied: If you have already submitted an application that has been denied, a South Carolina immigration lawyer can help you understand the reasons for this and ensure your next attempt is a success.
Your employer is not cooperating: Many immigrants will apply for employment-based visas to remain in the U.S., but these rely on cooperation from your employer. If they do not agree to help, an attorney can ensure they fulfill their lawful employer obligations.
You have recently gone through a divorce: If married to a U.S. citizen but are recently divorced, law enforcement may view the marriage as fraudulent to gain citizenship. An attorney can formulate a defense to help prove this isn't the case.
How Do I Choose an Immigration Attorney in South Carolina?
You need to choose carefully before hiring an immigration lawyer in South Carolina for the highest chances of success. Here are our top tips on deciding which law firm to work with:
Never work with lawyers that approach you at USCIS asking for your business.
Always research the attorney's experience. Try to find a firm that has successfully dealt with cases similar to yours in the past.
Speak to multiple law firms to see how they rank in commitment to their clients and response times.
Be wary of South Carolina immigration lawyers that give illegal advice, such as lying in your applications or bribing immigration authorities.
Always consider costs and choose the best reputable firm within your price range.
How Much Does the Average Immigration Lawyer Cost in South Carolina?
The cost of hiring a South Carolina immigration law attorney varies hugely between firms and on the type of issues you need help with. For example, a lawyer assisting you with forms for your application could charge anywhere from $250 to $2,000, whereas legal advice on becoming a permanent resident is more likely to be in the region of $1,000 to $7,500. Other firms will charge hourly rates for the entire process rather than fixed fees for specific legal advice, ranging between $150 and $350 on average.
Do Immigration Attorneys Usually Charge for Consultations?
The majority of South Carolina immigration lawyers will charge between $75 and $300 for an initial consultation. It is standard in the industry, so don't be alarmed if the law firm requests payment for this. On the other hand, a few legal practices will offer free consultations if you decide to proceed with their legal services. Speak to the law office and see what their policies are.
Frequently Asked Questions
Has the immigration process changed due to COVID-19?
There was a temporary suspension of naturalization ceremonies and many in-person interviews were postponed due to the pandemic. Moreover, the immigration process has become even more complex, making the need for an immigration attorney even more paramount.
Should I contact an immigration lawyer in South Carolina?
Anyone that needs advice on the U.S. immigration process should contact an immigration attorney to avoid delays, denied applications, and deportation.
Can an immigration lawyer speed up the process?
No – South Carolina immigration lawyers will explain the reason for delays and provide you with an accurate expected timeline for the entire process, but they cannot speed up the process itself.