The best tactic with immigration lawyers? Ask for options, but make your own choices

In all of the consultations and case reviews I have handled as an immigration lawyer, nothing strikes me as more remarkable than the following statement:

“Thanks for explaining all of my immigration options. Now tell me what to do, please”

But people do say these words, ALL of the time.

Don’t ask your immigration lawyer to “tell you what to do”

My theory is that people feel a need to ask a professional, to take the stress away from them. They have concerns about their future in America. If they are also parents, they worry about their kids. They are afraid of making the wrong choice. It’s totally understandable after all we do a very thorough job in evaluating immigration issues.

Often we do recommend one approach over another.

After all, we are speaking with immigrants who frequently are very educated and skilled.

They often are fluent in several languages and highly accomplished in their industry,
whether we are talking about construction or technology or the arts.

But the “tell me what to do, please” does not merely arise in employment immigration. It comes up in deportation defense. People even ask us to help them decide whether to sponsor family, or if they should pursue asylum.

High stakes indeed.

Good Immigration Lawyers offer you options, they don’t make your choices

One thing that we can easily tell the folks who walk through the doors of our offices: “Here is what you don’t want to do.”

Just yesterday I saw two different cases consecutively with completely different issues. The one common ground was that both had been given advice that I deemed incomplete or inaccurate.

So I made sure to spend a great deal of time explaining what not to do.

Answering immigration questions is tricky. It might seem deceptively easy to those who do not know the nuances of the law.

All of your options?
A good immigration attorney will give pros and cons, regarding time involved in waiting, fees to invest, and the risks of losing.

However, the minute that an attorney tells you “what to do,” you should have more questions.

The Best Immigration Lawyer will never tell you what to do.


Written by: Harlan York

Immigration Attorney Harlan York is Former Chair, Immigration Section, NJ State Bar Association and Former Co-Chair, NY State Bar Association CFLS Immigration Committee. Mr. York appeared on National Television on CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose and Primer Impacto on Univision, as well as Telemundo, NBC, and PBS. He was honored as First Ever Immigration Lawyer of The Year in NJ by Best Lawyers.

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