To aim big is always a wish and if you are aspiring to become an Immigration lawyer, you’ve begun doing just that. An immigration lawyer specializes in resolving legal issues related to immigration like visa renewal, naturalization, citizenship denial cases, etc. The responsibility of assisting your clients with the paperwork, and even advising them on the process of obtaining U.S. permanent citizenship, also lies on you.
To cope up with all these responsibilities you need to keep yourself updated about the current issues and more importantly, current legal issues and policy changes made by the government.
Undoubtedly, The journey of becoming an immigration attorney is tough but a word perfect guidance is what you need to make it a bit easier.
Research to begin with:
First of all, know what you are going to do. Research before beginning is always better. Knowledge about the career opportunities and duties of an immigration lawyer, the education required for the profession among other things would help you in having a better idea of your future responsibilities. Your duties would include talking and interviewing your clients, researching the cases, presenting them in front of the court, etc. So be prepared for them in advance.
Diversification and Graduation:
You have to be an all-rounder, i.e., you don’t need to confine yourself to only one culture or one country. An understanding of diverse cultures of the world and a good hold on world political situation is of immense help to an immigration lawyer.
A 4 year UG degree from a university- no specific course requirement- would get you going along with a Juris Doctor degree- takes three years- from a school of law. For the UG degree, you can go for courses like humanities and social sciences as they would help you nurture your perspective towards various issues and concerns doing rounds around the world. Other fields like Economic, social, and political ideas can also be nourished with the help of these courses.
The Law School:
Some of the law schools require the candidates to pass the Law School Admission Test before their enrolment. So, this would require preparation along with your UG studies. Once admitted to a law school, you would be studying general courses in the first year, whereas the final two years would focus on courses related to immigration law.
An addition to the journey is to pass your state’s bar exam so that you can become licensed and begin working with clients. Bar exams differ from state to state, so it’s better that you take separate courses for that. The benefit of clearing bar exams is that your character would become stronger as it would get tested on various aspects during the examination.
Becoming an immigration attorney also asks for improving your practical skills like arguing in the court against your counterpart, being debatable, speaking skills, presentation skills, etc. You need to nourish your memory retaining capacity as you would have to recall various laws, regulations and other processes.
Learn some languages:
Since the immigrants can be from any country, you better learn 2-3 languages like Spanish (highest number of immigrants to the U.S. speak Spanish), Vietnamese, Chinese, etc. It would better your communication skills and help your clients feel more familiar with you.
In the next step, focus on finding a place to work. Since it’s not feasible enough to directly begin practicing on your own, it would be better if you make things a bit comfortable by joining a good law firm. It would help in making you familiar with the community of immigration lawyers, and build a good relationship with professionals in your field. The demand for immigration lawyers is ever increasing, and so is the competition.
A prediction by the Bureau of Labour Statistics states that the employment of lawyers(including immigrant lawyers) would increase by 6% between 2014-2024. To grab your place, you would have to be prepared for the cutthroat competition, and that does not mean joining the best training institutes but being more honest in your preparation.
A better resume would surely help in garnering the attention of the clients so try to be more scoring in your exams as that would set you apart from your competitors.
Doing internships with law firms is also an excellent idea if you’re having since employers look for many qualities which are not even required, and this is because they want you to be tested upon almost all dimensions. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is one such organization that you may consider joining to gain some experience and get an edge over others.
Along with the aforementioned things, what more you need is determination and hard work. Remember, no fruit is sweeter than the fruit of success gained after an ocean of hard work.