Relocating to another country, whether temporarily or permanently, can be a complex process. If you would like to help immigrants secure all the necessary documents for legally living and conducting their activities in a certain country, then you should consider becoming an immigration consultant.
See also: How to Relocate to America
What do immigration consultants do?
Their duties include:
- Interviewing clients to determine their immigration needs.
- Advising clients on the country’s visa and work permit requirements.
- Obtaining the relevant immigration documents and filling them out on behalf of their clients.
- Submitting the immigration documents to the relevant immigration offices.
- Referring clients to an immigration attorney when necessary.
- Hiring and supervising staff that may include clerks and translators.
- Providing clients with handbooks detailing federal, state and local laws and regulations.
In the US, many immigration consultants typically deal with illegal immigrants or refugees who are trying to gain permanent residence status.
Immigration consultants work from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. They spend most of their time in an office environment, where they attend to clients.
Occasionally, these consultants may attend court proceedings, especially when a client is involved in immigration offenses.
According to Indeed, immigration consultants earn an average, annual salary of $54,000.
To become an immigration consultant in the US, you need a detailed knowledge of the US’ immigration laws and regulations. Obviously, the best way to gain this knowledge is by getting a certificate or associate degree in paralegal studies with coursework in immigration law, like the one offered by the National Paralegal College in Arizona. Some of the topics you will learn include:
- Categories of immigrants and non-immigrants
- Immigration cases
- Preparation of immigration forms
- The asylum process
- Visa categories and requirements.
It is also possible to get started with an associate degree in political science or sociology.
To be an effective immigration consultant, you need:
- Active listening skills
- Clear speaking skills
- Skills in information acquisition
- Good analytical skills
- Good problem-solving skills
- The ability to keep abreast of changes in immigration laws
- Good interpersonal skills to work effectively with clients from various cultural backgrounds
- Good computer skills
- Good organizational skills.
Once you are hired as an immigration consultant, embark on seeking accreditation as a partial or full immigration services provider from the Department of Justice. The US immigration services industry is very fraudulent and, as a result, many immigrants are often unable to distinguish between genuine and fraudulent providers. Being accredited can significantly increase your ability to attract clients.
If you wish to move a step ahead in your career, you can pursue a bachelor’s degree in law, followed by a graduate certificate in immigration law to become an immigration attorney. Please note you must also meet other state bar admission requirements.
Qualified immigration consultants can find employment in:
- Offices of immigration lawyers
- Established immigration consultancies
- Consulates and embassies throughout the country
After gaining experience as an immigration consultant, or as a qualified immigration lawyer, you can move into self-employment and establish your own consulting business. Remember to have it recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals.
Finally, immigration is a hot issue in the US. As of 2012, there were approximately 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, according to the Center for American Progress. With many more people immigrating into the US, there is no doubt that the demand for immigration consultants will keep rising.
See also: Working in the USA
So, if you want to pursue this career, there will be plenty of jobs for you. Good luck!