Criminal defense attorneys spend much time covering their backsides. Protecting ourselves from the immigration consequences for our non-citizen clients is no exception. In a college town, like Bryan-College Station, many of our clients are either foreign students or foreign faculty members from Texas A&M University. Whether it’s a student visa issue, evaluating deportation risk, or simply the client who wants to re-enter the U.S. after visiting their home country, accurately advising clients of immigration issues is critical. No defense lawyer aspires to field a client’s angry call from the airport after federal immigration officials have denied them re-entry following their customary trip home during the holidays.
I profess expertise in criminal law, but I’m no immigration ace . . . nor do I yearn to become one. Keeping up with changes in criminal law and procedure is work enough. However, we’ve developed a very simple strategy for clients who face immigration consequences resulting from their Bryan-College Station criminal charges by getting them in contact with immigration attorneys, usually on conference call, to discuss their questions and our disposition strategies. And I’m surprised how much I learn each time. For a very reasonable hourly fee many immigration lawyers will discuss your client’s case in the privacy of your office. Questions about renewing student or work visas, re-enterying the country with pending criminal charges, or discussing the client’s long-term citizenship plans can be accomplished in a relatively short time. After the consultation we pay the invoice, document our client file, and go forward with confidence the client has been well advised of their special immigration problems. Mission accomplished.
So, no matter how we do it, non-citizen clients need accurate information about how their criminal case may affect their immigration status. Whether we become experts ourselves or defer to a specialist, we need good information to cover our backsides and help our clients. It’s easy to develop a strategy to accomplish both goals.