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HIRING AN IMMIGRATION LAWYER: MAKING AN INFORMED DECISION

Immigration and refugee law can be a very complex field to navigate, especially if you have little prior knowledge in this area. Over the years, our firm has received many calls from clients who have received incorrect or incomplete advice from friends, family members, or people who claim to be immigration experts. We also meet people who have chosen to deal with immigration matters on their own, and have made innocent mistakes that cost them dearly (literally and figuratively). We also have cases where someone sought the help of a so-called “professional,” but the work was unfortunately executed in a way that could seriously compromise an applicant’s chances of successfully reaching his or her immigration goals. When your immigration status or that of a family member is on the line, the stakes are incredibly high.

When I need to tackle a home improvement project, I make it a point to speak to at least two or three experts about how they would approach the project, and to get an estimate of what the project will cost. I also try to do some research on my own, to educate myself about the process and what needs to be done. After taking those steps, I am in a better position to make an informed choice and hire the person or company who can best help me. I advise clients and potential clients to take the same approach when it comes to immigration, visa, or refugee matters. Talk to two or three lawyers about your situation. Ask each for a reference (for example, from a former or existing client). Go online and do some basic research at the Canadian government’s Citizenship and Immigration Canada website (www.cic.gc.ca) or the Immigration and Refugee Board website (www.irb.gc.ca). Ask questions about the process and the lawyer’s fees, to make sure that you understand the work to be done and the costs involved. Ensure that any lawyer you’re considering is a member in good standing of their province’s law society.

Once you’ve armed yourself with this information, choose the person you feel you can trust to guide you toward your goals. Your choice of a lawyer is an important step toward your immigration goals and an investment in your future; make it an informed choice.

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