Career Development

What Does an Immigration Lawyer Do?

Find out what an immigration lawyer does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as an immigration lawyer.

Immigration lawyers help people navigate the complex process of immigrating to a new country. They advise clients on how to apply for visas, green cards, and citizenship; they also represent their clients in court if they are facing deportation or other legal issues related to their immigration status.

Immigration law is incredibly broad and covers everything from international trade to family reunification. It’s an area of law that touches on many other areas of practice, including employment law, criminal law, and civil rights.

Immigration Lawyer Job Duties

Immigration lawyers are responsible for a wide range of duties, including:

  • Helping clients complete visa applications or other government forms
  • Assisting clients with issues related to citizenship, including naturalization applications
  • Representing clients in immigration court proceedings and other legal proceedings related to immigration status
  • Drafting contracts related to international business transactions involving the exchange of money, goods, or services
  • Providing advice about how to obtain temporary visas for business or pleasure purposes
  • Providing legal representation for individuals facing deportation or removal from the United States
  • Assisting non-citizens with issues related to family-based petitions, including translating documents and providing information about the application process
  • Advocating for clients in front of immigration judges or other government officials to help them obtain legal status in the US
  • Reviewing clients’ records to identify any errors that may have occurred during previous applications or proceedings

Immigration Lawyer Salary & Outlook

Immigration lawyers’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of work they do.

  • Median Annual Salary: $82,500 ($39.66/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $125,000 ($60.1/hour)

The employment of immigration lawyers is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

The continued growth in the Hispanic population in the United States and the need to hire workers from abroad are expected to drive demand for immigration lawyers. As more immigrants seek employment, they will need legal advice and representation with regard to their immigration status.

Related: Immigration Lawyer Interview Questions and Answers

Immigration Lawyer Job Requirements

To become an immigration lawyer, one typically needs to have the following:

Education: Immigration lawyers need to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Many immigration lawyers choose to pursue a law degree. Some of the most common law degrees are a Juris Doctor (J.D.) or a Doctor of Jurisprudence (D.Jur.).

Many immigration lawyers choose to pursue a master’s degree in immigration law. This specialized degree can help lawyers gain a competitive edge in the field.

Training & Experience: Most immigration lawyers will receive on-the-job training from their employer. This training will help the lawyer learn the firm’s specific practices and procedures. It will also help the lawyer learn how to use the firm’s computer systems and software.

Certifications & Licenses: Most states require lawyers to be licensed to practice there, and immigration lawyers are no exception. Each state has different requirements for getting a license, but most require candidates to pass a bar exam.

Many immigration lawyers are also certified translators since they work with immigrants who speak languages other than English.

Immigration Lawyer Skills

Immigration lawyers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication skills: Immigration law is a complex field, and lawyers who work in this area need to be able to communicate clearly with their clients. They need to be able to explain complex legal processes and procedures in a way that their clients can understand. They also need to be able to communicate with other lawyers and government officials on behalf of their clients.

Attention to detail: Attention to detail is the ability to notice small changes in information. Immigration law is a complex field, and lawyers who work in this field need to be able to notice small changes in information to ensure they provide their clients with the best possible advice. For example, immigration law may change depending on the circumstances of a client’s case, and an immigration lawyer with attention to detail can recognize these changes and adjust their strategy accordingly.

Analytical skills: Immigration law requires a thorough understanding of the law and how it applies to a specific situation. Immigration lawyers use analytical skills to determine the best course of action for their clients. They use analytical skills to research immigration law and determine the best way to apply it to a client’s situation.

Problem-solving skills: Immigration law is a complex field, and lawyers who work in this area need to be able to find solutions to complex problems. For example, immigration law covers a wide range of topics, including international relations, employment law, family law and criminal law. A lawyer who works in immigration law needs to be able to find solutions to problems that arise in any of these areas.

Ability to work under pressure: Immigration law is a fast-paced field, and lawyers in this area of law often have multiple deadlines to meet each day. Because of this, it’s important for immigration lawyers to be able to work under pressure and meet their deadlines.

Immigration Lawyer Work Environment

Immigration lawyers work in a variety of settings, including private law firms, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. They typically work long hours, including evenings and weekends, to meet deadlines and keep up with the demands of their clients. They may also travel to meet with clients, appear in court, or attend conferences. Immigration lawyers must be able to handle a large caseload and work under pressure. They must also be able to work independently and be self-motivated.

Immigration Lawyer Trends

Here are three trends influencing how immigration lawyers work. Immigration lawyers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

More Focus on Immigration Detention

As the United States continues to ramp up its immigration detention system, lawyers are beginning to focus more on this area of law.

Immigration detention is a complex and often controversial topic, as it involves the incarceration of individuals who have not been convicted of any crime. This has led to many legal challenges, which immigration lawyers can help with.

In addition, there is an increasing demand for lawyers who specialize in immigration detention from both private and public entities. This trend will continue to grow as the United States continues to crack down on illegal immigration.

More Use of Technology in Legal Services

The use of technology in legal services is becoming increasingly popular as clients look for ways to save money on legal fees.

Immigration lawyers can utilize technology by using online tools to manage their caseloads or by developing apps that help clients find information about immigration laws. They can also use social media to connect with potential clients and build their reputation.

Increased Scrutiny of Government Programs

Government programs are coming under increased scrutiny from both the public and the media. This is leading to greater scrutiny of the actions of government officials and employees, which could put immigration lawyers at risk.

As immigration lawyers, you are likely already familiar with the risks associated with working with government agencies. However, you may want to consider taking additional steps to protect yourself and your firm, such as having a strong code of ethics and conducting thorough background checks on all employees.

How to Become an Immigration Lawyer

An immigration lawyer can help you with a variety of issues related to immigration. They can help you if you want to become a citizen, if you want to bring family members to the United States, or if you have been denied entry into the country.

It is important to find an immigration lawyer who specializes in the area that you need help with. For example, if you are trying to become a citizen, you will need to find a lawyer who specializes in citizenship law. If you are trying to bring family members to the United States, you will need to find a lawyer who specializes in family-based immigration.

Advancement Prospects

Immigration lawyers may advance in their careers by becoming partners in their firm, or by starting their own firm. Some immigration lawyers may also advance to management positions within their firm, such as becoming the head of the firm’s immigration practice group. Some immigration lawyers may also choose to become judges, or to work for the government in an immigration-related position.

Immigration Lawyer Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we are committed to providing high-quality legal services to our clients. We are looking for an immigration lawyer to join our team and help us achieve our goal of providing excellent client service. The ideal candidate will have experience in all areas of immigration law, including family-based immigration, employment-based immigration, naturalization, and removal proceedings. He or she will be able to handle a high volume of cases and be able to work independently. The ability to speak Spanish is a plus.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Understand the client’s needs and objectives for seeking immigration assistance, and provide knowledgeable and compassionate counsel throughout the process
  • Stay abreast of updates and changes to immigration law and procedure, and keep clients apprised of developments that may affect their case
  • Prepare and file petitions and applications with USCIS, DOS, and other government agencies, ensuring accuracy and completeness of all required documentation
  • Represent clients in interviews, hearings, and before the Immigration Court, Board of Immigration Appeals, and federal courts, as needed
  • Develop and execute creative strategies for cases involving complex legal issues or unique facts
  • Conduct thorough factual and legal research to support client positions and develop persuasive arguments
  • Write clear and concise briefs, memoranda, and other legal documents
  • Manage a heavy caseload while maintaining strict attention to detail
  • Handle administrative tasks associated with case management, including calendaring deadlines, maintaining files, and communicating with clients
  • Supervise and mentor junior associates and paralegals, as needed
  • Foster positive relationships with colleagues, clients, and others involved in the immigration process
  • Perform pro bono work, as time and interest allow

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Juris Doctor degree from an accredited law school
  • Admission to state bar
  • 3-5 years of experience in immigration law
  • Excellent research, writing, and analytical skills
  • Strong oral advocacy skills
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Bilingual ability in Spanish or another language
  • Experience with asylum cases
  • Experience with family-based immigration
  • Experience with employment-based immigration


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