Lawyer Monthly - March 2022

EXPERT INSIGHT 51 MAR 2022 | WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM of time. If a client needs more time to wrap up back home, I can also slow the process down, adding flexibility to the client’s lives while making sure the case is not terminated. Most importantly, I communicate all of this along the way, demystifying the process. An immigration attorney does not have a magical wand to wave over the process, but they can fluidly meet the client’s goals within the parameters of the system while reducing anxiety and stress. The more a client understands the process, the better their experience will be. How important is compassion when handling client matters relating to immigration law? Compassion is essential to the successful practice of immigration law. There is an old saying that someone only contacts an attorney on their worst day. To me, this means that attorneys are problem solvers. We prop up the client while navigating through their issue. This is certainly true of immigration attorneys. Our cases define someone’s identity, their opportunities, and their family’s lives, potentially for generations. Each case is unique because each client has unique challenges and abilities that colour the immigration process. If you do not understand your client, you cannot possibly effectively pilot the US immigration system on their behalf. You may be missing benefits they are eligible for or pursuing benefits they are ineligible for. Sometimes this also means delivering tough news and digging deep to get creative; sometimes it means more work. Compassion is essential to fuel the drive that we need, even on the toughest days, to secure the client’s interests. Have recent shifts in US immigration policy affected the way you handle client needs? The US legal immigration system to best navigate that system and it is their job to remain hopeful that their American Dream will come true. What are the most common issues that individuals or families relocating to the US face during the immigration process? Consular processing or, in more basic terms, getting a visa abroad, begins when someone submits a family- or employment-based petition or enters a humanitarian category. When they are preliminarily approved, the case is transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC), which coordinates gathering further information and documentation and paying any fees to the Department of State. The final step is the interview at the consulate where the consular officer ultimately makes the decision to approve or deny the case. For most of this process, prospective immigrants are locked into the government’s timeline. Imagine the stress of an international move. Sorting through everything you own. Selling property and possessions you cannot take. Wrapping up work. Saying goodbye. Closing out your life for a new chapter in a new country. Now imagine that this process must take place over a few days – or conversely, it may happen at any point over the span of many months. Immigrants sometimes need to flee their home country because of war or persecution, and they may have only days or even hours to prepare. They must rapidly make decisions and leave many things undone. It may not be safe to close down businesses or say goodbyes. Access to resources or important documents may be cut off. But you must leave or face unspeakable harm. Then they find themselves in a third country as a refugee and hope that they made the right hasty decisions. Immigrating to the US often turns on those decisions. Did you remember your child’s birth certificate? Do you have proof you are married to your spouse? Did you think to document the threat and did you bring that documentation with you? Did you think ahead? How could you? On the other hand, many have far too much time. Clients who have family or work opportunities in the United States see long wait times before immigrating, potentially years, and until then they exist in a sort of limbo. Do you take a new job? Start a new business? Date or get married? Even split up? How will your choices impact your future move? Timing is often one of the biggest challenges for my clients. How do you help your clients to overcome these obstacles or prepare for them? Understanding the process grants (some) power over it, so the first step is to help my clients understand what is ahead and manage expectations. This is a long and difficult time for families in particular, so knowing what they can expect can save them a lot of heartache. I help clients using my knowledge and experience of the system and its many quirks to efficiently work through the process and avoid lengthy delays. Anything from identifying the correct document from the start to something as simple as submitting it in the correct format can save clients months Immigrants sometimes need to flee their home country because of war or persecution, and they may have only days or even hours to prepare.

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