Hiring An Immigration Lawyer: Job Descriptions, Pay & More

Whether you’re a firm or organization dealing with anything regarding immigration laws, or you’re a part of an org that supports or defends refugees, asylum seekers, migrants, or immigrants, you probably have needs to hire an immigration lawyer.

We know how mission-critical immigration lawyers are to these organizations, so let’s talk about how you can find and hire the right fit.

What is an Immigration Lawyer?

Immigration law primarily refers to laws (and their enforcement) related to a person’s citizenship and residency status and how a non-resident of the United States may gain residency, citizenship, or visitation rights.

Immigration primarily falls under federal law, although some states do have applicable statutes on the books. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, “U.S. immigration law allows noncitizens to legally seek travel to or remain in the United States, including various forms of humanitarian relief or protection from removal, such as asylum and temporary protected status.”

So, immigration lawyers work with non-U.S. residents who want to live and work in the U.S. and businesses that want to hire individuals who are not U.S. residents. For instance, immigration lawyers might shepherd citizens of other countries through gaining a visa that would legally allow them to work in this country. A lawyer might also work with a company with global ties that needs employees from countries around the world.

Where Do Immigration Lawyers Work?

Immigration lawyers can be found in law firms and practices of all sizes that either include or specialize in immigration law or working in government agencies or nonprofit organizations.

They may also work in higher education teaching immigration law or advising admissions teams or HR departments for colleges and universities with international students or faculty. Some may even work with members of Congress or other elected officials be appointed or elected to the bench.

Multiple lawyers and attorneys

Creating an Immigration Lawyer Job Description

The first step toward searching for, finding, and hiring the right immigration lawyer is creating a powerful job description that contains vital elements, including the skills, qualifications, education, and experience you require for your available position and to serve your clients.

These legal experts are the go-to for immigrants, refugees, or asylum seekers in things related to visa applications, naturalization, employment, and deportation. But the field can be quite broad, covering things like employment law, criminal law, and civil rights related to areas of international staffing and business as well as family reunification. So, you’ll want to be clear about any specialties you need for your practice area or clients.

Top Skills and Qualifications of an Immigration Lawyer

Because the laws frequently change, it is important to find a versatile legal immigration professional who stays current on laws, topics, and trends related to immigration.

A legal immigration attorney might also provide counsel on:

  • Business immigration issues, such as HB-1 Visas
  • Political asylum
  • Work and student visas
  • U.S. immigration court cases

Besides earning a law degree with a focus on immigration, there are some other hard and soft skills you could note in your job description for an immigration lawyer including things like:

  • U.S. immigration law
  • I-9 compliance
  • Any applicable international laws for your industry
  • Business immigration studies
  • Strong writing skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Interpersonal and communication skills
  • Technology expertise and experience
  • Public speaking and presentation
  • A second language that makes sense for your clients, practices, or related industries such as Spanish, Somali, Arabic, Indian, Chinese, or Korean
  • Professional skills that support interactions with clients, other legal professionals, and judges

Education Needed to Become a Legal Professional in Immigration

As noted above, immigration law candidates must possess the right education, often including a bachelor’s degree and a three-year Juris Doctor (JD) degree.

Immigration law school students might take courses that include foreign languages relevant to their geographic location or the population they hope to serve, international human rights law, and labor law.

Pay and Outlook

The average pay for an immigration attorney in the United States is around $85,000 per year, according to Work talk and review site Glassdoor puts the average salary closer to $101,000, so that should give you a range to consider as you develop pay rates for the position.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for lawyers in general will grow 9 percent by 2026. According to a 2017 report by CBS MoneyWatch, there is a shortage of immigration attorneys in the Unites States—and as recently as 2012, the shortage was seen as “dire” by the New York Bar Association.

When Do You Need an Immigration Staffing Specialist for Your Company?

If you need to hire immigration law experts for your firm, Insight Global can help. We have experience in sourcing, vetting, and hiring these professionals for practices and firms across the U.S. from key border stations and ports of entry to cities and counties of all sizes.

Contact our Insight Global team to learn more about our premier staffing agency services. Our team can help you create a top-notch job description and determine the right strategy for finding, attracting, and hiring the best immigration lawyer to serve your clients.

Need Immigration Layers?

Let's talk.