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US Visa Lawyers: Determining the Difference between Real Attorneysand Visa Agents in Thailand

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Author: Benjamin Hart

The field of Immigration law can be a very complex and complicated area of legal practice. Some categories of US Visas have extremely specific requirements that mandate a legal practitioner with both a solid grounding in general black letter law as well as specific experience in certain areas of the immigration code.

An immigrant's case can be seriously damaged by an agent who does not have proper training in American Immigration law. Also, those without proper licensure are not bound by the strict code of ethics placed upon US attorneys. For this reason, especially in byzantine immigration matter, a competent licensed American Immigration Lawyer should be consulted.

In Thailand a major concern for Thai-American couples wishing to obtain Family based Visas (K1, K3, Cr-1, IR-1) is finding legal representation that can assist both with compiling the petition and submitting it to the proper USCIS service center and the dealing with US Embassy matters in Bangkok, Thailand. Unfortunately, a great many translation services, self appointed visa agents, and unlicensed laymen presenting themselves as lawyers lead prospective immigrants into difficult legal situations because these people do not know what they are doing.

With regard to US Immigration, only a duly licensed attorney licensed to practice law in at least one US State (or the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, or Guam) is allowed to provide legal counsel and advice regarding visa matters. To advise a client or intending immigrnt about something as seemingly trivial as which form to fill out is considered to be the unlicensed practice of law according to federal law and USCIS intra-agency memoranda. This definition sets the bar for unlicensed practice of law so low with regard to American visas that essentially anyone operating as an "immigration consultant," is engaged in the unlicensed practice of law. With that in mind, there are legitimate agents that are not lawyer, but they retain the privilege (under certain conditions) to represent immigrants and act on their behalf before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. However, these "representatives," are generally charities and refugee services. In fact USCIS has made it clear that anyone who is not an attorney and is acting in any capacity as a representative is only allowed to take "nominal fees," for representation in order to be characterized as another type of non-lawyer representative.

The best way to determine if a US Visa Lawyer is trustworthy is to simply ask the attorney to produce his or her credentials. The state or federal bar card they produce should have a license number that can be used to check the lawyers' database to ensure that the attorney in question is in good standing in their jurisdiction.

It is always prudent to make immigration decisions only after consulting with a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.

About the author: Benjamin Hart is a Licensed US Visa Lawyer working in Bangkok Thailand, for more information please see

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