Jobs in immigration law are primarily office-related. Attorneys may work in a law office, state agency, or open a private practice. Plus, they can work for non-profit and non-governmental organizations devoted to helping immigrants obtain citizenship. Though immigration lawyers meet current and prospective clients in their offices, they also go to courtrooms for proceedings.
Injuries and Illnesses
One of the most common problems immigration lawyers face is burnout. Since they are working with immigrants who decided to leave their homelands for various reasons, immigration law professionals may be under a lot of pressure. When they are working on deportation cases, they might be worried about the outcome. All this can lead to compassion fatigue, stress, and burning out.
Immigration law employment implies a standardized working schedule of 40 hours a week. Thus, immigration law professionals generally work from 9 to 5. However, they may work longer hours, particularly when they have to prepare or analyze deportation cases.
How to Become an Immigration Lawyer
Immigration law careers are undoubtedly rewarding but quite challenging. They require not only extensive education but also a range of specific skills and competencies.
Immigration legal jobs, just like all other occupations from the legal area, demand a particular set of skills. Eminent immigration attorneys must have high-level reading and writing capacities. They must grasp complicated concepts and convey them to their clients who don’t know immigration law whatsoever. They must know how to defend their clients in court or any adversarial occurrence.
Additionally, candidates applying for immigration attorney positions must have exquisite interpersonal skills. Immigration legal professionals may be required to work with individuals who suffered some traumas or distressing experiences such as trafficking, persecution, or torture. The capacity to talk to them with empathy and compassion might be crucial for handling immigrants or their families, particularly when they need reassurance and help regarding immigration legal issues and complexities.
When browsing through job advertisements, you may notice that each immigration lawyer job description mentions higher education as compulsory.
To pursue a legal career in immigration, you have to obtain a four-year bachelor’s degree from a college or university. Before the bachelor’s program is completed, you have to sit the LSAT (Law School Admission Test) that evaluates your reading comprehension and logical and verbal reasoning proficiency. This is one of the decisive factors concerning admission to law schools.
If you pass the LSAT, you will enroll in the law school; after finishing it, you will receive a Juris Doctorate diploma. Lastly, you need to pass the bar exam in your place of residence to obtain the compulsory license.
Some law students decide to take their internships or clerkships to obtain some legal experience before they finish law school. This can increase their job opportunities, as many immigration law firms’ jobs require experience.
Those who aren’t eager to work yet have one more option. Namely, when they finish the bachelor’s studies, students may opt to continue with their higher education. Such a choice will allow them to obtain a master’s in immigration law. These two-year studies are recognized globally and offer lawyers an opportunity to work in all countries worldwide.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Immigration legal jobs, just like all others from the legal area, require specific licenses and certifications. Immigration attorneys must satisfy licensure requirements defined by the state. Every state has its criteria that future lawyers have to meet. The majority of them require attorneys to enroll in Continuing Education Courses. They enable attorneys to stay up to date with brand new legislation and case precedents. The state determines the length of each course.
Immigration law professionals aren’t limited strictly to the immigration lawyer career. They may opt to carve out an academic career and work as law teachers at law schools, colleges, and universities. Law professors are responsible for delivering lectures to law students and researching legal topics.
If teaching is not their cup of tea, immigration legal attorneys might pursue an immigration judge’s vocation. This position involves presiding quasi-judicial hearings regarding deportation, removal, cancellation, bond, and exclusion.
An immigration judge makes decisions that are regarded as conclusive unless appealed. Professionals holding this position may also exercise unrestricted powers given by law. They are required to deliver independent judgment while coming to definitive decisions. An immigration judge might also be required to perform hearings in penal institutions or other locations outside the courtroom.
Not all immigration law jobs are paid in the same way. How they get paid might depend on what kind of cases they are dealing with. For instance, legal services regarding green card application assistance are charged at a flat-rate fee. Those fees may amount to $800–$1500. More complex cases like deportation defense might be charged per hour and cost up to $10,000.
Immigrational attorneys may require $100–$400 for the first consultation. The reason for such a fee is that many immigrants don’t have a regular income and therefore are unable to pay for an attorney.
According to the BLS, lawyers have been making an average of $122,960 annually as of May 2019. However, immigration law salary is somewhat lower and may amount to $30,000–$100,000 per year. As for PayScale, immigration attorneys earn an average of $67,680 per year. Their salary varies depending on their location and level of expertise. Entry-level immigration attorney jobs are always paid less than senior positions.
It could be concluded that immigration law practice is well-paid. Some professionals give their services pro bono or at a lower rate. Oddly enough, immigration courts don’t offer immigration attorneys to the defendants. They have to find a legal representative on their own.