It is now about six weeks away from the beginning of the H1B quota period. I know that many people are still in the process of assembling their H1B materials and there are still other employers and foreign nationals who are considering which firm or attorney to use to guide them through the process. Arguably collecting the necessary documentation and information for the H1B petition can be simpler than choosing your immigration counsel. Given that the H1B checklist of materials from the foreign national and the employer should be similar if not the same from attorney to attorney. And for the sake of argument, if we start at the same point, including the same level of expertise and industry knowledge, which should be the determining factors when we select our counsel.
The first variable and oftentimes the last deciding factor is cost. How much is my counsel going to charge me for their expertise. Unlike many other areas of the law, the majority of immigration attorneys charge a flat fee for their services. Therefore, you will have a specific line item figure for the cost. However, a flat rate may not include the costs associated with postage or with responding to a Request for Evidence (RFE). Find out what the flat rate encompasses before moving forward. Typically, an employer who has multiple cases to file has a better opportunity to negotiate a more favorable rate as compared to a single employee with one case. Therefore, a foreign national should try to strengthen her negotiating power by assembling similarly situated colleagues who are in need of immigration assistance.
The second variable, and the one that I personally believe to be the most important, is “will my attorney call me back.” Across the gamut, from individuals to the largest of employers, being able to access your immigration counsel when you need them is critical. I take pride in the fact that during regular business hours I answer my own phone and I rapidly respond to email correspondence. Outside those time frames, I am available via email and on my cell phone. My philosophy is to respond to you as I would a friend. That means addressing your concern in an expert and candid manner. If you have not been receiving the attention that you believe you deserve with your current counsel, then you should bring it to their attention. If the situation does not improve, then consider seeking other counsel.
If you are the decision maker for immigration counsel, then take the time to find the right fit for your organization. Typically immigration counsel works closely with the human resources team, so to the degree possible, have those team members involved in the vetting process. In the end, the better the relationship with your immigration counsel, the better off your employees will be, because they will know that their immigration matters are in good hands.
Thanks again for reading and let me know if I can assist you with your immigration issues.