Immigration Practice - 14th Edition - Hardcover
Immigration Practice - 14th Edition - Electronic
CLIENT CONTACTS AND PREPARATION OF FILINGS
§ 1-1. Introduction.
One of the nice things about an immigration practice is that one's
opponent is usually the Government, not another lawyer. This accounts for
the high level of cooperation among the immigration bar. However, the
Government can be a far more powerful opponent than the typical civil
litigator, and dealing with immigration clients poses unique challenges.
Some practical guidance on these matters is provided below.
§ 1-2. Phone Calls.
Typically an attorney receives a phone call either from an alien himself
or from a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or business wishing to sponsor
an alien somehow.1 Alien callers often have language barriers, and it is a
good idea to have law office receptionists trained to route a thickly accented
caller to the office's immigration practitioner or a staff member who speaks
the caller's language (if available) when the receptionist cannot understand
the caller's wishes more specifically. However, once any language barrier is
broken, alien inquirers often have a decent "street knowledge" of
immigration law. First-time U.S. callers, on the other hand, usually pose
fewer language barriers, but have less familiarity with immigration law.
It is helpful to decide how much information the attorney will seek to
obtain and provide during initial phone calls when no payment arrangements
have been made. Some attorneys refuse to discuss any substantive matters by
phone, preferring only to set up an initial office consultation. Others consult
by telephone for a fee paid by credit card. The author attempts to find out a
little bit about the caller's problems and goals and to explain fee arrangements
in advance of the first meeting. This allows a few callers to obtain some free
advice without ever coming to the office, but it seems to avoid
misunderstandings and to make the office interview more efficient. Some
attorneys have secretaries screen calls and set up appointments. A private
attorney must avoid giving too much free advice by phone, because callers
who "just have one question" are often adept at turning a phone call into a
significant free consultation, and an attorney could easily spend the whole day
on such calls, earning no fees. Many immigration attorneys charge a certain
amount for an initial consultation. Whether it is based on an hourly rate or
not, it is helpful to mention by phone that the consultation fee should be
brought to the initial interview or paid in advance.
If language barriers exist, the attorney should suggest that an interpreter
be brought if available (usually a friend of the alien), or the attorney may
arrange for an interpreter.
CLIENT CONTACTS AND PREPARATION OF FILINGS
§ 1-1. Introduction
§ 1-2. Phone Calls
§ 1-3. First Interview
§ 1-4. Fee Arrangements
§ 1-5. Questionnaires
§ 1-6. Forms and Fees
§ 1-6(a). Forms
§ 1-6(a)(1). Availability of Forms
§ 1-6(a)(2). Form Nomenclature and Versions
§ 1-6(a)(3). Form Completion
§ 1-6(b). Fees
§ 1-6(c). Biometrics and Background Checks
§ 1-6(c)(1). Biometrics Intake
§ 1-6(c)(2). Screening
§ 1-6(d). Photographs
§ 1-7. Preparing Application Packages and Responses
§ 1-7(a). Special Rules for Military Members and Family
§ 1-8. Documents
§ 1-9. File Organization
§ 1-10. Later Client Communications and Change of Address
§ 1-11. Interviews and Record Checks by Agencies
Robert C. Divine is the Chairman of the Immigration Group of Baker Donelson, a law firm of over 550 lawyers and public policy advisors with offices in 13 cities from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans.
Mr. Divine served in Washington, D.C. from July 2004 until November 2006 as the first presidentially appointed Chief Counsel of United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), the world's largest immigration services agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). From July 2005 until July 2006, he served as Acting Director and then Acting Deputy Director of USCIS. In early 2004 he served as an expert for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom evaluating the impact on asylum claims from DHS' implementation of expedited removal procedures.
He has practiced immigration law since 1986 and in the last several years has chaired the American Immigration Lawyers Association's "Inter-Agency" Committee and its Liaison Committee to the U.S. Department of State. He has served as an expert witness in U.S. and foreign courts.
His practice includes all aspects of U.S. immigration law, representing large and small international and domestic employers, investors, developers, regional centers, family sponsors, and individual foreign nationals. He has also litigated significant business matters, including class action employment discrimination, contract, commercial, product liability, antitrust, ERISA benefits, business torts (including RICO, misrepresentation, Consumer Protection Act), and immigration-related criminal matters.