Immigration affects all aspects of our society, from individual lives to the cultural and economic success of our communities.
As an immigration attorney, you have your choice of rewarding and meaningful career options, whether you directly serve clients, make change through legislation, or work in the government. At USF, you’ll build your practical and theoretical foundation for a career in immigration law.
Our coursework is taught by leading scholars and immigration experts and practitioners. Courses delve into topics like immigration, employment, family, and administrative law.
An immigration lawyer specializes in immigration legal cases that typically involve immigrant mistreatment, political asylum, visas and extradition, and various aspects of human rights. Most immigration lawyers work very closely with foreign nationals who want to live temporarily or permanently in their countries.
Although immigration law is offered as an undergraduate course, most immigration lawyers feel it is necessary to get a Master of Laws degree in this field as well. There are many great reasons to study an LLM in Immigration Law. The LLM in Immigration Law will enable you to study legal responses to the worldwide phenomenon of immigration at domestic, international, and supranational levels. It will also enable you to comprehend the operation and underlying principle of the law in context.
What is Immigration Law?
Immigration law refers to the rules established by the federal government for determining who is allowed to enter the country, and for how long. It also governs the naturalization process for those who desire to become U.S. citizens. Finally, when foreign nationals enter without permission, overstay their visit, or otherwise lose their legal status, immigration law controls how the detention and removal proceedings are carried out.
As a border state and as a hub for international commerce, Texas offers many exciting and rewarding opportunities to practice immigration law. With a concentration in immigration law, you will have the skills to:
- Represent noncitizens who are in deportation proceedings
- Advise clients who want to bring family members into the United States
- Assist businesses that want to hire foreign-born employees
- Enforce immigration laws through work with a federal immigration agency
- Advise noncitizen defendants about the immigration implications of criminal convictions
- Help refugees (including unaccompanied children) with their asylum applications
- Assist foreign-born victims of domestic violence or human trafficking to regularize their immigration status
- Advise legislatures, nonprofits, and advocacy groups about immigration policy
- You may decide to specialize in immigration law, or you may practice in a different area that requires knowledge of immigration law, such as criminal law, workplace law, or family law.
Immigration lawyers represent individual and business clients before the USCIS, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and in Immigration Courts and the federal circuit courts on issues dealing with immigration, emigration, visas, green cards, adjustment of status, political asylum, and other important immigration and naturalization issues
What Do Immigration Lawyers Do?
- Immigration lawyers interpret the law, help you analyze your own rights, possibilities, and strategies, and guide you (or if applicable, your sponsoring U.S. family member or employer) through every step of the complicated immigration process.
- They prepare a lot of paperwork on your or your employer’s behalf (which alone can save hours) and help you get organized about which items you must collect on your own (such as birth certificates or proof of a valid marriage).
- Immigration lawyers may represent clients in administrative courts, or they may counsel clients about their legal rights and obligations related to immigration, among other things.
- They also suggest courses of action based on their knowledge of immigration law.
- They make sure the information you present when filling out the various forms, collecting documents, or preparing statements and testimony is clear, correct, and consistent. Many immigration applications depend on the U.S. government officer believing your story, so entering different information on different forms by mistake can create huge problems.
- Most importantly, an experienced attorney knows what to expect from the U.S. government, how to avoid or minimize the inevitable delays, and what issues to prepare for to make sure apparently simple applications don’t get held up on legal technicalities.
How can you become an immigration lawyer?
Regardless of the eventual practice area, completing a bachelor’s degree is the usual first step in becoming a lawyer, followed by earning a Juris Doctor (JD) degree.
A law school concentration or specialization in immigration law will help bolster your expertise in this specialty and give you an advantage in the field, though it is not technically necessary to practice. Rather, employers and clients will be looking for lawyers with ample exposure to the immigration field, particularly hands-on legal experience through clinics, legal internships, externships, clerkships, pro bono activities, and more, as well as through their law school course work.
A career in immigration law, as with most legal areas, also requires certain skills. High-level capabilities in reading and writing are a must, as is the ability to understand and communicate complex concepts and advocate for your client in an adversarial setting. Law schools both seek out these skills in applicants and cultivate them in their students.
In many situations, strong interpersonal skills are also needed. During any given day in immigration practice, an attorney may work with people who have undergone exceptionally traumatic experiences, including suffering persecution, human trafficking, or torture. The ability to communicate with compassion may be especially important in dealing with immigrants and immigrant families, who may need reassurance as well as technical assistance in dealing with the legal complexities of immigration.
What Are the Entry Requirements for Law School?
- An undergraduate degree
- Admissions tests
- Letters of recommendation
- A personal statement
1. Undergraduate Study:
Because the Juris Doctor is a postgraduate degree, law schools generally require that you have completed (or be on track to complete) a 4-year bachelor’s degree. There are no prerequisite courses for prospective law students, though your degree must come from an accredited institution and your undergraduate GPA will be scrutinized. If you earned your undergraduate degree outside the United States, you should check with individual law schools regarding their policies.
2. Admissions Tests:
Until recently, the requirement that law school applicants take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) was nearly ubiquitous.
The LSAT is a standardized half-day test administered four times per year at various testing locations throughout the country (and beyond). It consists of 175 multiple choice questions designed to test your reading comprehension and reasoning and analytical skills, as well as a writing component. No prior knowledge of the law is required. Scaled scores range from 120 to 180, with an average of 150. The more selective the school you want to attend, the higher your score would likely need to be.
3· Letters of Recommendation:
Law schools will want to see at least a couple of letters of recommendation. Although these generally carry less weight than grades and test scores, they can still be important.
If you are still in college, now is a good time to start forging relationships with your favorite professors or those in whose classes you excelled. If a professor doesn’t know you, they’re going to have a hard time saying much about you in a letter. Don’t be afraid to approach your professors during office hours that’s what they’re there for. And if you get the rare professor who seems too busy to help, he or she probably wouldn’t write a good letter anyway.
It is far better to get a glowing letter from a lesser-known professor who is familiar with you and the quality of your work than one from a “big name” professor who barely knows your name. The whole point of the letter of recommendation is an endorsement by someone who can credibly speak to your character and qualities. If someone is equivocal about providing a recommendation, find someone else.
4· Personal Statement:
Most law schools will ask you to write a personal statement. It may be open-ended, or the school’s application may prompt you to respond to particular questions. Make sure to tailor your statement accordingly. Don’t write a cookie-cutter statement that is not responsive to the particular prompt.
The personal statement is an opportunity to showcase your writing skills, so make sure to polish it until it is error-free, and have others review it as well.
It should go without saying, but don’t have someone else write your personal statement. Not only is this unethical (which is not a great way to start your path toward being an officer of the court), but it does a disservice both to you and the schools that are considering you.
What Does Immigration Law Pay – Immigration Lawyer Salary?
Lawyers, including Immigration Lawyers, are usually paid either on an hourly basis or on a flat fee basis. Lawyers in the United States earn an hourly median wage of $55.69, with the lowest-paid lawyers earning $26.86 per hour and the highest-paid lawyers earning $90 or more per hour.
Is it worth it to become a lawyer?
Is being a lawyer worth it? That’s something only you can decide. Becoming a lawyer definitely isn’t for everyone. If you decide that the risks don’t outweigh the rewards, you don’t necessarily have to give up your dream of working in the legal field. There are plenty of other career options that may better suit your skills and interests.
Immigration Lawyer Career:
There are a variety of occupational options available to students interested in immigration law. The obvious career path is to become an immigration lawyer. However, students interested in careers in this branch of law may also go on to become paralegals or law school professors.
Immigration lawyers must have a law degree and pass the bar exam. Paralegals must have at least an associate’s degree and it is helpful to have a certificate in paralegal studies. Law school professors are usually required to have a doctoral degree in law.
While becoming a lawyer is the most common career path chosen by people interested in immigration law, becoming a law professor or a paralegal is also a viable career option. By learning about the basics of each of these careers–including education requirements and salary information–you’ll be able to make an informed decision about whether or not immigration law is right for you.
Best Immigration Law Schools:
Here are the 11 best schools for Immigration Law:
- New York University
- University Of Virginia
- City University of New York School of Law
- Columbia University
- Loyola Marymount University Law School
- Cornell University
- University of California
- University of Chicago
- University of Washington
- Yale University
- Harvard University
1. New York University:
NYU is a university without walls. They remove the boundary between the classroom & the real world to open limitless opportunities. That’s why NYU has become one of the most influential universities in the world with campuses in 15 major cities across the globe. Their global network directly serves the students by allowing a rich academic experience led by renowned faculty with accolades ranging from the Nobel Prize to Grammy Awards. But their community is more than a list of cities & awards.
Since their beginning, they’ve been champions of diversity, access, & inclusion, creating one of the most diverse student bodies with no single ethnic majority & students from over 150 countries. NYU is for risk-takers; for the bold, the curious, the innovative, for those that see a problem & find the solution simply because “They have to.”
They have produced some of the brightest minds, ground-breaking research, & most influential people capable of being comfortable anywhere & effective everywhere.
|Location:||New York City, New York|
2. University Of Virginia:
The University of Virginia (U.Va. or UVA) is a public research university in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was founded in 1819 by United States Declaration of Independence author Thomas Jefferson. It is the flagship university of Virginia and home to the Academical Village, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. UVA is known for its historic foundations, student-run honor code, and secret societies.
UVA is a highly rated public university located in Charlottesville, Virginia. It is a large institution with an enrollment of 16,267 undergraduate students. Admissions are competitive as the UVA acceptance rate is 24%. Popular majors include Liberal Arts and Humanities, Economics, and Management Sciences and Information Systems. Graduating 95% of students, UVA alumni go on to earn a starting salary of $50,300.
3. City University of New York School of Law:
The City University of New York School of Law (or CUNY School of Law) is a public law school in New York City. Founded in 1983 as part of the City University of New York, CUNY School of Law was established as a public interest law school with a curriculum focused on integrating clinical teaching methods within traditional legal studies.
CUNY Law is currently ranked #2 nationally for its clinical education program. The Law School curriculum combines traditional substantive law courses (like contracts, torts, civil procedure, and criminal law) with lawyering skills throughout the three years of legal education. The first-year curriculum consists of seven required substantive courses, Legal Research, and a four-credit Lawyering Seminar in each semester where students work on legal writing and other lawyering skills through simulations and other role-playing devices. Each third-year student is required to participate in a clinic or concentration for one or two semesters (12 to 16 credits).
|Location:||New York City, New York|
4. Columbia University:
Columbia University, the Ivy League’s New York City office, has been around for more than 250 years, providing prestige, rigorous academics, a strong alumni network, and a multitude of opportunities to its students.
This is a place unlike any other where a renowned Core Curriculum is fueled by an incredibly diverse community. 6,000 undergraduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries find a home on our residential campus in Morningside Heights: your corner of New York City. Undergraduates in Columbia College and Columbia Engineering can choose from nearly 100 areas of study and enhance their classroom conversations through research at 200+ research centers and institutes. Your Columbia education will be the foundation for a lifetime of learning, collaboration, and the unending pursuit of truth and understanding.
|Location:||New York City, New York|
5. Loyola Marymount University Law School:
Loyola Law School Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University is a law school with high rankings for its trial advocacy and tax law specialties. The school is located in downtown L.A., putting students close to powerhouse players in the entertainment industry, among other sectors. Interested students may be eligible to complete the Entertainment Law Practicum, in which they get hands-on experiences with employers such as Paramount Pictures, MGM-UA Studios, and Warner Bros. Television.
The Loyola Law School Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University has an application deadline of Feb. 1. The full-time program application fee at the Loyola Law School Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University is $65. The part-time program application fee at the Loyola Law School Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University is $65. Its tuition is full-time: $60,860 and part-time: $40,722. The student-faculty ratio is 9.2:1.
|Location:||Los Angeles, California|
6. Cornell University:
Cornell University is a private institution that was founded in 1865. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 15,043, its setting is rural, and the campus size is 745 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. Cornell University’s ranking in the 2021 edition of Best Colleges is National Universities, #18. Its tuition and fees are $59,316.
Cornell University, located in Ithaca, New York, has more than 1,000 student organizations on campus, which range from the Big Red Marching Band to the International Affairs Society. Cornell has a thriving Greek life, with more than 60 fraternity and sorority chapters. Cornell has 35 NCAA Division I varsity teams that compete in the Ivy League. The Cornell Big Red are well known for their successful men’s lacrosse and men’s wrestling teams; the school also has a strong ice hockey program.
|Location:||Ithaca, New York|
7. University of California:
UCLA is a highly rated public university located in Los Angeles, California. It is a large institution with an enrollment of 30,969 undergraduate students. Admissions are extremely competitive as the UCLA acceptance rate is 12%. Popular majors include Economics, Sociology, and Political Science, and Government. Graduating 92% of students, UCLA alumni go on to earn a starting salary of $44,500.
University of California, Berkeley is ranked 4 in Best Global Universities Rankings by U.S. News & World Report and has an overall score of 4.7 stars, according to student reviews on Studyportals, the best place to find out how students rate their study and living experience at universities from all over the world.
|Location:||Los Angeles, California|
8. University of Chicago:
A private university chartered in 1890 by John D. Rockefeller, the University of Chicago has been shaping higher education and the intellectual lives of undergraduates for more than a century. Boasting a 217-acre campus on the shores of Lake Michigan, UChicago has been home to 92 Nobel laureates, the largest number affiliated with any American university.
UChicago scholars were the first to split the atom, measure the speed of light, and develop the field of sociology. The College is the largest academic unit of the university, which encompasses 11 graduate divisions and professional schools, including on-campus law, business, molecular engineering, and medical schools.
9. University of Washington:
The University of Washington is a highly rated public university located in Seattle, Washington. It is a large institution with an enrollment of 29,332 undergraduate students. Admissions are fairly competitive as the University of Washington’s acceptance rate is 52%. Popular majors include Research and Experimental Psychology, Communications, and Political Science and Government. Graduating 84% of students, University of Washington alumni go on to earn a starting salary of $44,900.
10. Yale University:
Yale University is a private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701 as the Collegiate School, it is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine Colonial Colleges chartered before the American Revolution.
Yale is best defined by the word and Yale is a research university and a liberal arts college. Its scholars are driven by innovation and more than 300 years of tradition. Yale students excel in the arts, humanities, social sciences, sciences, and engineering at the highest levels. Students of all backgrounds, beliefs, identities, and interests join a global community that values a multifaceted approach to undergraduate education.
|Location:||New Haven, Connecticut|
11. Harvard University:
Harvard is an elite private university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the Boston Area. It is a mid-size institution with an enrollment of 7,148 undergraduate students. Admissions are extremely competitive as the Harvard acceptance rate is only 5%. Popular majors include Economics, Computer Science, and Political Science, and Government. Graduating 97% of students, Harvard alumni go on to earn a starting salary of $70,300.
Harvard College students describe the school as a “dynamic universe” and an “amazing irresistible hell” that pushes them to the extremes of their intellect and ability. Unsurprisingly, the legendarily “very difficult” school attracts some of the country’s most promising youth, who rise to the occasion in almost every aspect of their life on campus, not just the classroom. Harvard’s recent financial aid enhancements have increased the number of applications by a landslide, but even after getting past the admissions hurdle, “people find ways to make everything (especially clubs and even partying) competitive.”
|Location:||Cambridge, MA, United States|
To Sum Up:
Immigration law has been at the forefront of national discourse. Changes in immigration policy and enforcement require lawyers to serve as interpreters, enforcers, and advocates.
If you are pursuing a career in immigration law, then the above-mentioned schools are the best law schools that will provide you best knowledge about immigration law.