Dallas is a large metropolitan city. Being that it is situated in North Texas near the US-Mexico border, Dallas also experiences a relatively high rate of immigration. This is due in large part to a steady flow of individuals and families seeking new economic opportunities through Dallas. As a result, there is a vast array of practicing immigration attorneys and immigration law firms to choose from in the city. This can make finding an immigration lawyer that has the experience you seek, seem overwhelming. Fortunately, this guide is designed to help lead you to the attorney whose specialization best fits your specific legal needs.
Distinctive Immigration Laws in Dallas
It is important to know that the State of Texas has enacted what is known as a “show me your papers” law. This law is similar to a recently passed law in Arizona which has been the subject of national controversy because the law permits state and local law enforcement to check the immigration status of any persons which have been detained or arrested regardless of whether the purpose of the detainment was related to immigration or prior criminal history. For instance, a law enforcement officer may legally perform an immigration status check of someone they pull over for speeding. In addition to this, Texas has also passed laws which require local law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration authorities as it relates to reporting and processing illegal immigration. The city of Dallas (and other major cities in Texas) has since unsuccessfully attempted to challenge some of these policies, but they remain enforceable at the state level.
Hiring an Immigration Attorney in Dallas, Texas
Before you begin searching for an immigration lawyer, you should first know what your legal needs are. This knowledge will allow you to narrow your search to attorneys who handle your type of specific legal issue. For example, if you are facing deportation, you may want to hire an attorney who specializes in this type of legal matter, as opposed to an attorney or law firm whose primary focus is assisting immigrants with starting foreign businesses or some other unrelated immigration issue. Knowing where you stand when it comes to your legal needs can also guide you to an attorney who charges a rate that fits your budget. For instance, if you only need help filing a request for a short-stay visa, it may not be necessary to hire a lawyer who mainly handles deportation defense cases in court for $400 per hour. However, Texas law requires that all attorney fees must be reasonable in proportion to the services performed. Moreover, there are several other factors which limit the amount of attorney’s fees that your lawyer may charge such as:
- Time and labor necessary to complete the job
- Novelty and complexity of the legal issues involved
- Lawyer’s level of skill employed to address the issue
- Probability that your legal issue will prevent the lawyer from taking other fee-earning work
- Customary fee charged in the legal industry for the specific type of work
- Amount of time available to complete the job
- Results of the case
- Nature and duration of the attorney-client relationship
- Years of experience and competence.
If the fee is not a pre-set flat fee, you may expect to pay $100-500 per hour based on your needs (also known as the scope of the representation) and the above criteria (at least in part). Notably, attorneys’ fees tend be higher if the representation involves the lawyer representing you in court.
Regardless of which attorney or law firm you hire, it is important to ask a prospective immigration lawyer questions about their background. You may also find testimonials online relating to the law firm’s experience helping other clients. Especially, you will want to inquire about his or her experience with handling your type of immigration issue. For example, you may want to ask how long they have been handling your type of immigration needs and at what rate of success, what professional certifications or licenses the attorney has relating to your issue (e.g. immigration law certification from a bar association), whether their Texas law license is in good standing, how attorney’s fees will be calculated, and when the fees will be charged. Any agreements relating to the attorney’s representation must be in writing and explained to you before you sign. You should also be provided with a copy after signing. If you have concerns relating to the attorney’s disciplinary history, the State Bar of Texas maintains a list of recent disciplinary actions recently taken against all attorneys licensed to practice law in the state. You may access and review that list here:
Dallas Immigration Attorney Services Commonly Offered
Immigration lawyers perform a wide range of services relating to many different types of immigration issues. Some examples of these legal services may include:
- Assistance with visas and work authorizations
- Free consultation
- Legal advice
- Family immigration
- Nationality law
- Adjustment of status
- DACA defense
- Family based immigration
- Habeas corpus petitions
- Deportation defense
- Permanent resident (green cards)
- U.S. citizenship
- Criminal defense
- Establishing a business in Dallas
- Representing you in court (This is a service that may be particularly important in cases involving deportation defense).
- Board certified in the practice area
If you or a loved one are seeking to come to the United States for work-related reasons, you may want to speak with an attorney who specializes in assisting clients with obtaining the following types of work authorization visas:
However, if you are seeking a visa, the following represent some of the type of visas offered by the USCIS:
- I-140 Visa: an Employer’s Application for an Immigrant Visa and Proof of Ability to Pay.
- H1B Visa: an employment-based, non-immigrant visa for temporary workers.
- K1 (Fiancé) Visa: a visa issued to the fiancé or fiancée (imminent spouse) of a United States citizen to enter the United States
- E2 Visa: A treaty investor visa is a non-immigrant visa reserved for foreign entrepreneurs of countries that have a Treaty of Trade and Commerce with the United States.
- L1 Visa: The L1 visa is an intra-company transfer US visa. It allows a US company to transfer a key employee from one of its offices in another country into the United States.
- EB5 Visa: The EB-5 visa provides a method for eligible immigrant investors to become green card holders by investing $500,000 or $900,000 after November 21, 2019 to finance a business in the United States that will employ at least 10 American workers.
- Immigration Waiver: An Immigration waiver is a pardon for a specific types of immigration violations.
Note: Immigrant visas (IV) are issued to persons seeking to reside permanently in the U.S. Nonimmigrant visas (NIV) are issued to persons with permanent residence outside the United States and wish to be in the U.S. temporarily for tourism, medical treatment, business, temporary work or study, for example.
Helpful Immigration-Related Organizations in Dallas, TX
There are also several organizations located in Dallas which may help guide you to the right attorney. For instance, the State Bar of Texas maintains an index of all attorneys licensed to practice law in Texas on their website, which can be accessed here:
You can search for an attorney based on certain criteria such as geographic location. Also, the following organizations and their contact information may be useful when looking to resolve your immigration matter:
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
8101 N Stemmons Frwy
Dallas, TX 75247
Dallas Immigration Court
1100 Commerce St. Ste. 1060
Dallas, TX 75242
Dallas Bar Association
2101 Ross Ave.
Dallas, TX 75201
Texas Civil Rights Project
1412 Main St, Ste. 608
Dallas, TX 75202
Human Rights Initiative of North Texas
2801 Swiss Ave
Dallas, TX 75204