I am planning a trip with my family to visit Ireland because with a name like Kelly O'Reilly I am obligated to make at least one trip to where it all began. The beauty of my current planning is there is so much information available on travel to Ireland that I already feel like I know the country. Via the internet, travel guides and discussions with those who have already visited the Emerald Island, I know exactly what we are going to do and how we are going to get it done.
There is no guesswork.
It is in the light of the information age that I am amazed at how many people take for gospel the advice of a single attorney, notary or "immigration specialist," without double checking the counsel given through the bountiful sources available to make sure the advice given is sound. It seems we spend more time researching the purchase of a new car, video or recipe then to double check the immigration information given that can have such a profound affect as to influence one's life and one's posterity. You owe yourself to do sufficient study via the internet, publications and second opinions as to make sure you are traversing a safe and sane immigration course.
Recently I have had two occasions with prospective clients that drove home the point. The first couple came to consult with me after years of frustration and high fees. They went to an attorney who charged the couple almost $17,000 or approximately 3x the normal fees for a marriage based immigration case and did so because a Filipino entertainer graced the firm's advertisement. The case had dragged on for years with little progress until the Immigration Service denied the case a few weeks ago. The firm now wanted a new fee to refile the case and so this couple finally sought out a second opinion.
When I pointed out the high fees and what should have been done the couple's only response was, "we just assumed it would be fine because (the movie star) is a client as well." Such assumptions often have such results. If they had sought a second opinion, discussed their case with others who have faced similar type immigration issues they would have saved thousands of dollars as well as years of time.
Sometimes ignorance is not bliss.
Last week I spoke with a family that was crushed because they were facing deportation as the result of seeking the aid of," a friend of a friend," who claimed to be an, "immigration expert." Not an attorney but someone who held himself out as to be so familiar with immigration laws as to make hiring an attorney silly. He would save them money and time. Neither occurred.
Hoping to save money and believing this person to know what he was doing they followed him over the cliff. They did not check the advice he gave against information found on the internet nor did they take advantage of free second opinions from a reputable lawyer. They simply saw what they thought was an inexpensive path to their permanent residency and now it was costing them everything.
Don't let this happen to you. Double check what an attorney advises you to do against the information provided all over the internet. Articles abound on immigration issues so Google what the attorney says, speak with a USCIS officer and seek out others who have done what you are facing, and by the way, you will find out whether the price quoted by the attorney is reasonable or highway robbery.
By getting a second opinion, double checking the advice given and requiring a lawyer to give legal support for the counsel given, an intended immigrant can make sure that the choices made are sound and when it comes to their immigration that there is no guesswork.
Kelly O'Reilly is a nationally known immigration expert and former immigration officer. He is a highly sought after speaker on immigration and employment compliance issues. Mr. O'Reilly serves as the current chair of the Riverside County Bar Association Immigration section and is a partner in the full-service immigration firm of Wilner & O'Reilly where he provides free consultations. Mr. O'Reilly can be contacted at 800-352-7034 or via email.