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Immigration consultants deal with people who are relocating from one country to another. Their work mainly involves helping the immigrants obtain all the documents they need to live and operate legally. Immigration consultants typically work for organizations that are authorized by the U.S. Department of Justice's Board of Immigration Appeals to offer immigration services.
Using the Skills
Superior communication skills are central to the effectiveness of immigration consultants. They require active listening skills to give full attention to what clients are saying, and speaking and writing skills to effectively provide advice concerning visas and other requirements. Because these consultants often receive clients from various parts of the world, the ability to speak one or more foreign languages can be helpful. Good research and analytical skills are also useful to immigration consultants since they need to stay abreast of changes in immigration regulations and assess how the changes affect immigration processes.
Immigration consultants help prospective immigrants navigate the administrative complexities that come with immigration processes. For example, when a Hispanic refugee wants to become a U.S. permanent resident, the immigration consultant determines whether she meets the requirements. He may interview her to establish whether she has been physically present in the country for at least one year and holds valid refugee admission documents. The consultant then obtains the required application forms and helps her fill them out, and submits to the USCIS for review. When the immigrant attains permanent residency, the immigration consultant may also provide the client with handbooks detailing U.S. federal, state and local laws translated to the client's language.
Some Duties Are Administrative
Apart from directly dealing with clients, immigration consultants also have some administrative duties. For instance, experienced consultants working in BIA-recognized organizations who receive several clients might supervise a staff that includes translators and office clerks. When a client is involved in immigration irregularities and ends up in a court of law, the consultant may also help the client to access the services of an immigration attorney.
Entering the Profession
Although there are no set academic requirements for immigration consultants, most BIA-recognized organizations prefer people with at least associate degrees in sociology or political science. After being hired, these consultants must obtain ether “partial" or "full” accreditation to practice. Partially accredited consultants can only represent clients in the Department of Homeland Security, while fully accredited consultants can do so in both the DHS and Executive Office for Review. There are various career advancement opportunities for immigration consultants. While some consultants earn undergraduate degrees in immigration law to become immigration attorneys, others gain vast work experience and establish their own BIA-recognized consulting firms.
Unfortunately, many people who represent themselves as immigration consultants aren’t qualified to give you authoritative assistance. If you think you need the help of a consultant, make sure the person is a BIA-accredited professional or a qualified attorney. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security suggests that your consultant should charge only a small fee for services rendered.
- Department of Homeland Security: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: Become an Authorized Provider
- Department of Homeland Security: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: I am a Refugee or Asylee: I Am a Refugee or Asylee: How Do I Become a U.S. Permanent Resident?
- U.S. Department of Justice: Can an Accredited Representative Help Me?
- Alchemy: Visa and Immigration Consultant
- Department of Homeland Security: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: Find Legal Services
Based in New York City, Alison Green has been writing professionally on career topics for more than a decade. Her work has appeared in “U.S. News Weekly” magazine, “The Career” magazine and “Human Resources Journal.” Green holds a master's degree in finance from New York University.