Try to get a referral. Do you have friends or professional colleagues who have had immigration issues?? Chances are they used a lawyer and have an opinion on the quality of their work.
If you can’t get a referral from reliable person, go a different direction. We suggest using an AILA member ONLY. AILA stands for American Immigration Lawyers Association, and it’s the world’s largest association of attorneys and law professors who practice and teach in the area of US immigration law.
After you have schedule a consultation, you have to come to the table prepared with facts and information that the lawyer needs, to get the most for your money.
We need five types of information in a consultation:
(1) Where you are and where you want to go, ie, where are you physically residing in the world? Where do you want to go (to the US)?
What employer do you have, if any? Which one do you want to join and at which location?
(2) When you want to arrive to the destination – Ideally (fastest) and realistically (slowest, ie when it’s a game-changer). Notably, we normally provide the fast/slow during the consultation if you don’t know.
(3) Age of the person who wants to relocate.
(4) Current visa status under the rules of the destination country, if any.
(5) Dates and outcomes of any official paperwork ever given to the person by the destination country – ie approval notices, receipt notices, visa stamps, refusals.
In our office, a consultation with an attorney helps even if you never hire us, because we spend several (free) minutes and usually 20-60 (paid) on the phone asking questions and giving answers – so that you can start shaping an immigration strategy to help you achieve your goals. If we’re not the ones for the job, we end a call with some advice and send you to a reputable “AILA” firm which matches your needs.
If you have a complex case, getting a second opinion is advisable. Take a look at my blog post titled, “Choosing Immigration Counsel” to help you know what to look for when shopping around: http://ryvinimmigrationblog.blogspot.com/2010/09/how-do-i-choose-best-corporate.html.
IMPORTANT TIP: If I were looking for a work-based visa (temp visas like: H-1B, E-1/2/3, TN, L-1, O-1; immigrant visas in most popular employment based [EB] preference categories [EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, EB-5] – I would start with a consultation process with at least 2 business immigration lawyers recommended (for good work) who have background in small- to mid-sized business immigration, with 8+ years experience to be able to develop a complex strategy covering multiple options, as needed.
Ask each lawyer which visa they recommend off the facts discussed in the 30-45 minute session, including possible back-up plans, and ask each for some examples of their recent similar cases (they should provide a 2-minute fact scenario).
IMPORTANT TIP: If the lawyer stalls during the conversation because their sub-focus is really in large/easy corporate immigration work (where complex issues are the exception rather than the rule), deportation or another immigration area. Hopefully they will hint at this potential weakness and then you simply ask them to recommend another business immigration lawyer they know and trust.
Lots of luck with your ongoing venture!