Important Questions You Should Ask an Immigration Lawyer During Your First Consultation
Over many years we have assisted thousands of clients with their immigration matters. Whether reviewing or handling a new application for a visa, advising businesses on sponsorship of overseas nationals and immigration strategy, helping to reverse a negative decision, bringing an appeal, or guiding clients through the process of gaining citizenship, the first consultation provides an invaluable opportunity for both parties to understand each other, build a solid working relationship, and to work on a plan to move forward. Clients who are not familiar with the immigration process may understandably be unsure of what to expect or even what to ask during this important session. But with a solid understanding of the reason for the first consultation and what you can gain from the session, you will be able to prepare a series of pertinent questions which will allow you to feel sure that your matter is in the right hands. In this article, we will explain some of the most important and useful questions you should ask an immigration lawyer during your first consultation.
Understanding Your Immigration Options?
Most experienced immigration lawyers will look beyond your initial requirement (e.g. to help apply for a family visa); rather, they will look at your background, current situation, and then your short and long-term objectives. Ask plenty of questions to ensure you fully understand the pathways available to you (there maybe just one or more depending on your situation), the pros and cons of each, and which they would recommend based on their experience. We are often delighted when clients realise they have other immigration options which may be easier, faster, cheaper, and more advantageous in the long run. In fact, it is sometimes the case that clients believe they have little in the way of options when in reality, they do.
Ask Your Immigration Lawyer About Their Track History With Cases Such As Yours
If your case is relatively straightforward and you (and your family members) fit within the eligibility criteria for the immigration status you need, you can be very confident of securing a positive and timely decision as long as a well-prepared application is submitted. Where immigration lawyers realise their value is when matters become complex. Ask your immigration solicitor if, based on the information you have provided, they can foresee any complications with your application (e.g. if you don’t quite meet the income requirements for a work visa or if you have not met the continuous residence requirements for indefinite leave to remain). If they do identify factors in your case that will require careful management, ask them about their track history of managing similar situations. They may even be able to provide you with a success rate for their cases. While all cases are slightly different, an experienced immigration lawyer will know exactly how to deal with almost all situations that arise. Ask them what their strategy would be to overcome any issues they have identified; this might include gathering additional records from HMRC, preparing a covering letter detailing calculations in line with Home Office guidance, or requesting supporting evidence for a breach of the immigration rules (e.g. if you were unable to leave the country and overstayed, evidence may be requested from a medical physician).
What Are The Likely Costs Of Handling Your Case?
Perhaps the most pressing question most clients have relates to costs. Ask your immigration lawyer to outline the costs of handling a case such as yours to completion. Do bear in mind, however, that they may need to send you a detailed breakdown of costs after the session for you to review and consider before proceeding. Make sure that you understand the full costs, including any hidden fees where applicable. We also recommend asking how their charging system works; is it based on time, or are the costs fixed? Also, ask them to explain the application fees charged by the Home Office, including the immigration healthcare surcharge and biometric fees. It is also useful to understand if there will be additional costs if the case takes longer, if unforeseen issues arise, or if there are circumstances outside of your control which impact your case. Discuss with your lawyer how and when you will need to pay and the options available to you. At the end of the session, you want to be confident that you understand how their costing works and how much your case is likely to cost in the future.
Ask How Long Your Case Will Take To Be Processed
In addition to costs, most clients are keen to understand when they can action their immigration plans. While many countries list their immigration processing times for each application type, many do not. In addition, these estimates are often averages. An experienced immigration lawyer will know how busy immigration case officers are, the waiting times for each application type, how to expedite your application, and how any complexities in your case may impact the processing time. They will also understand how to mitigate any complexities to ensure that the processing time for your application is as short as possible. Remember, immigration lawyers, see decisions from immigration authorities every day, hence they know the actual processing times, not just the theoretical ones. This can be invaluable in helping you to realise your plans within your preferred timescale.
Use the initial consultation with your immigration lawyer to get to know them and to ask all of the questions which are most concerning you. Not only do you need to be comfortable that your preferred immigration lawyer knows how to best handle your case, but you also want to know that you can trust them and that they have your best interests at heart. You want to know that you can pick up the phone at any time and speak to your lawyer when they are available. And most of all, you want to know that they will honour their promises and that they will work hard to achieve your goals and those of your family members.