How to Become an Immigration Attorneys: A Comprehensive Guide

If you are passionate about helping individuals from other countries who want to live, work, or study in the United States, you may want to explore a career in immigration law.

Immigration lawyers are legal specialists who focus on this area and advocate for clients on a range of immigration-related issues.

Given the ever-changing landscape of immigration law, this is a multifaceted and dynamic field that requires extensive expertise, abilities, and experience.

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How to Become an Immigration Attorneys
How to Become an Immigration Attorney. | photo courtesy | Wiki


In this article, we will explain what immigration attorneys do, how much they earn, and how you can become one in six steps.

What Does an Immigration Attorney Do?

Immigration lawyers possess a range of roles and responsibilities that hinge on the specific cases they handle and the requirements of their clients.

Some of the common tasks that immigration lawyers undertake involve:

  • Offering advice to clients regarding their rights and responsibilities as immigrants
  • Assisting clients in obtaining visas, green cards, citizenship, or asylum
  • Preparing and submitting immigration applications and petitions
  • Representing clients in immigration interviews, hearings, appeals, or removal proceedings
  • Conducting research and analysis of immigration laws, regulations, and policies
  • Crafting legal documents, motions, briefs, and contracts
  • Engaging in negotiations with immigration authorities and other involved parties
  • Educating clients and the public on immigration matters and updates

Immigration lawyers may collaborate with individuals, families, businesses, organizations, or government agencies.

They may also specialize in specific areas of immigration law, including:

  1. employment-based immigration
  2. family-based immigration
  3. humanitarian immigration
  4. deportation defense.

How Much Does an Immigration Attorneys Earn?

The average US salary for immigration attorneys is $80,518 p.a. but varies depending on employer, certification, location, experience, and education.

In New York City, immigration attorneys earn an average of $97,477, while in Los Angeles, they earn an average of $85,892. To become an immigration attorney.

Here are six steps to follow:

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

The first step to becoming an immigration attorney is to complete a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.

There is no specific major that you need to pursue to prepare for law school, but you should choose one that interests you and develops your analytical, writing, and communication skills.

Some common majors for aspiring lawyers include political science, history, sociology, economics, and English.

You should also take courses that are relevant to immigration law, such as international relations, human rights, cultural diversity, or foreign languages.

Additionally, you should participate in extracurricular activities that can enhance your resume and demonstrate your interest in immigration law.

For example, you can join a pre-law club, volunteer for an immigrant rights organization, or intern at an immigration law firm.

Step 2: Take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

The next step to becoming an immigration attorneys is to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), which is a standardized exam that measures your aptitude for legal reasoning and analysis.

LSAT consists of four sections: logical reasoning (two sections), analytical reasoning (one section), and reading comprehension (one section).

The LSAT score ranges from 120 to 180, and the average score for admitted applicants is around 160.

LSAT is a crucial factor in your law school application process.

Therefore, you should prepare well for the exam by taking practice tests, reviewing sample questions, and enrolling in a prep course if needed.

You should also register for the LSAT well in advance and choose a test date that gives you enough time to study and apply to law schools.

Step 3: Apply to Law Schools

The third is faculty members who specialize in this field.

  1. You can use the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) website to search for accredited law schools by location, specialization, or ranking.
  2. You can also use other resources such as U.S. News & World Report or Above the Law to compare different law schools based on various criteria. To apply to law schools, you will need to submit several documents, such as your transcripts, LSAT scores, personal statement, letters of recommendation, and resume.
  3. You will also need to pay an application fee for each school you apply to.
  4. You should apply to multiple law schools to increase your chances of getting accepted.
  5. You should also consider factors such as tuition costs, financial aid options, location preferences, and career opportunities when choosing which law schools to apply to.

Step 4: Earn a Juris Doctor (JD) Degree

To become an immigration attorney, you need to earn a JD degree from an accredited law school.

The degree takes three years and covers various areas of law, including immigration law.

You can gain more knowledge by taking courses and participating in extracurricular activities.

Step 5: Pass the Bar Exam

The fifth step to becoming an immigration attorney is to pass the bar exam in the state where you want to practice.

The bar exam is a comprehensive and challenging test that assesses your knowledge and skills in various areas of law.

The bar exam format and content vary by state, but most states use the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE), which consists of three components:

  1. the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE)
  2. the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE)
  3. the Multistate Performance Test (MPT).

Some states may also require additional tests, such as the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) or a state-specific exam.

The bar exam is usually administered twice a year, in February and July.

To prepare for the bar exam, you should review the topics and subjects covered by the exam, take practice tests, and enroll in a bar review course if needed.

You should also register for the bar exam well in advance and follow the instructions and requirements of your state’s bar association.

Step 6: Obtain Certification and License

The last step in becoming an immigration attorneys is acquiring certification and a license to practice immigration law.

For certification, you can seek the Immigration Law Specialty Certification offered by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the national association of immigration lawyers.

Meeting specific criteria is necessary for this certification, including:

  1. having a minimum of five years of experience in immigration law
  2. completing a minimum of 36 hours of ongoing legal education in immigration law
  3. demonstrating significant involvement in immigration cases
  4. passing a written examination.

To secure a license for practicing immigration law, you must adhere to the regulations set forth by your state’s bar association.

This might entail paying annual fees, fulfilling continuing legal education prerequisites, maintaining malpractice insurance, and upholding ethical standards.

Additionally, you will need to periodically renew your license to ensure its validity.


Immigration law can be a fulfilling career.

To become an immigration attorney, complete these six steps: obtain a bachelor’s degree, take the LSAT, apply to law school, earn a JD degree, pass the bar exam, and obtain certification and a license.

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