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Immigration Reform Likely to Reshape Immigration Attorney Profession

1420062_usa_flag_with_clouds.jpgThe majority of attorney entering the immigration law specialty do not do so to become wealthy, but impending changes to the immigration system could provide many new opportunities. Not only would more undocumented aliens require the services of legal professionals as they seek to navigate the process to citizenship or legal status, but more employers would also require legal assistance as they implement new verification systems. There would also be more demands on attorney as immigrants without legal status would have more access to pro bono representation through the courts.

As an immigration attorney in Austin, I have long believed that more attorney should be available to the immigrant and business community. If Congress can produce an immigration reform package that would allow more undocumented aliens to have access to attorney, both of these communities would benefit. With the assistance of the legal community, more immigrants can partake in the rewards and responsibilities of membership into American society.

The recent Senate bill proposed a path to citizenship for the almost 11 million undocumented aliens currently residing in the country. The Republican controlled U.S. House of Representatives has yet to finalize a bill for a vote, but leadership has declared that it is unlikely they will include a path to citizenship. It is, therefore, unclear if the House and the Senate will produce a final bill that will include a pat to citizenship or, merely, legal status. Much of the Latino community is hopeful that Congress will eventually decide upon a path to citizenship.

For the immigration attorney profession, either legal status or citizenship would provide economic benefits. The proposed process would take up to 13 years for undocumented aliens to complete. The process would require legal advice and assistance at many stages of the process. For many immigrants who lack the resources to hire an attorney privately, many community-based and pro bono organizations would likely provide legal assistance.

Immigration attorney are also likely to receive financial benefits from employers who wish to provide visas for skilled workers. Attorney fees for temporary workers’ visas could range from $2,000 up to $20,000. This potential for financial rewards has helped the American Immigration lawyer Association grow almost 11 percent while immigration reform talks have occurred.

While the rewards for many immigration lawyer would increase, their responsibilities may also burgeon. The new bill in the Senate proposes the addition of immigration judges. This would help clear the backlog on immigration cases and allow more lawyer to volunteer their pro bono services to clients. The bill would also establish more Legal Orientation Programs which help match clients with available pro bono attorney.

Having been a practitioner of immigration law for some time, I have long desired to help the many deserving clients that have sought my assistance. As more recent law school graduates gravitate to immigration law, I believe more of these immigrants and employers can find the legal assistance they require.

The firm of Lyttle Law Firm, PLLC, has been serving clients in the Austin community for many years. If you have an issue related to immigration or family law, please contact my office at (512) 215-5225 to schedule a consultation.