I have been practicing immigration law exclusively since before I passed the Florida Bar (under the supervision of a licensed attorney). I have seen this scenario more times than I care to admit.
A client comes into my office for a consultation. I find out that the client had already filed a petition on his/her own without consulting an attorney. The client now comes in because something has gone VERY wrong. The client’s petition has already been denied, or worse they have landed in removal proceedings because they should not have filed because of something in their past. Or the potential client had filed a petition for permanent residence and the government did not believe that the marriage is real and charged the immigrant with marriage fraud and referred them to immigration court.
Unfortunately, in some cases, it had been too late or it had become much more expensive to deal with the issues because of the Service’s determination. The first reason I give to hire an attorney is the fact that an attorney will always be an advocate on your behalf. Even when I ended up in court on personal matters I always hired an attorney. I believe that the attorney will take the emotions out of the matter and will be able to represent your interests in a more subdued way than you would have. This level of dedication could mean the difference between winning and losing the case.
The second reason I give is that simply you will have one additional witness, especially in cases when you know you will end up in an interview with the Service. Most of the time, the Service, represented by an immigration officer conducting the interview, will be the only other person in the room. Unfortunately, this means that the record will be written by them. Administrative immigration proceedings are not recorded, like a court proceeding, and unfortunately, in some instances, the record will be written against you. In some instances, I have heard that the officer asked questions that should not have been asked. If you were the only person in the room, it would be your word against the officer’s, and it will be very hard to prove that the officer asked these inappropriate questions. So why not have another person in the room, who will be able to prove otherwise?
Lastly, and this is the most important reason, you should hire an attorney because you are not one, or even if you are, you should still hire one as discussed above. Just like a doctor, and I hope that you are not self-medicating, the attorney will be able to diagnose the legal problem, and prescribe the best legal avenue to deal with the problem. Immigration law is very complicated, and the outcome could differ literally on one simple fact, like the date you came into the United States, your country of citizenship, or whether you were previously inspected by an immigration officer. An attorney will be able to diagnose these simple problems, because he/she knows how to do that, and you do not.
Call us before you print out that form from www.uscis.gov. We will always be your advocate and serving you would be our mission.