Choosing an immigration lawyer: How not to fall victim to fraud
Immigrants to the U.S. are very vulnerable when it comes to finding a lawyer and obtaining legal services. First, most newcomers do not have the finances to seek help from a large firm with a proven track record. Second, the legal system in the new country is not just a dark forest but an impenetrable jungle for many. And third, anxiety about one’s status in the US prevents one from evaluating the situation and the lawyer’s behaviour soberly.
This provides the perfect breeding ground for scammers who pose as immigration attorneys to extort money or steal personal information from newcomers, leaving them in utter despair and with even greater problems than before.
1. Ask for the lawyer’s full name and state bar license number
2. If a lawyer represents you in immigration matters, make sure they are licensed to practice
3. Put the contract in writing and ask for receipts for payments you have made
4 Be extra cautious if you are asked to pay in cash and not in an office or corporate account
5. Law-abiding lawyers do not use threats to attract clients
6. Keep a documented record of your interactions with your lawyer
7. Use helpful resources on the New York State Bar website