International Student Services staff are knowledgeable about F and J visa regulations, and can help you maintain your student or exchange visitor status. However, with complex situations – such as change of status or loss of status – you may want to seek out professional legal assistance.
ISS staff are not able to recommend specific lawyers or evaluate their professional competence. We have prepared the following information to assist you in selecting a lawyer.
Where to find a lawyer
- AILA’s Immigration Lawyer Search:
- Search by location, language spoken, etc.
- Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service:
- Find legal help in Tacoma/Pierce County for a small consultation fee
- King County Bar Association (KCBA) Lawyer Referral Service:
- Find legal help in King County for a small consultation fee
- Search free or low-cost immigration legal service providers
Tips: Choose a lawyer early, as immigration procedures can take a long time. Be sure to look at their areas of legal expertise before calling or visiting an organization.
Know Your Rights
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has published valuable information about what to do if you are stopped by police, immigration agents, or the FBI.
Travel Ban Resources
If you or your family are stopped in the airport, these volunteer lawyers can try to assist:
How to evaluate and select a lawyer
When calling the offices of the potential lawyers you’ve identified, be prepared to briefly explain your situation and the legal problem you want to address. You may want to ask the following questions to help you identify the best lawyer:
- Do you handle these types of cases?
- How long have you been doing this type of work? (It is best to hire a lawyer who has a lot of experience.)
- How many cases similar to mine have you handled?
- What percentage of your practice is devoted to immigration law?
- Do you charge an initial consultation fee? (Some lawyers will charge a fee for your first meeting, even if you don’t end up hiring them.)
- Do you charge a flat rate or hourly fee for this type of work?
- Can you give me an estimate of the cost?
- What exactly is included and excluded in these fees?
- Do you provide a written agreement describing the fees and services included for the fees?
- Can you estimate the amount of time it will take to resolve my case?
- When and how frequently will you update me on the status of my case?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Are you confident in the lawyer’s understanding of immigration laws and procedures?
- Does the lawyer communicate with you in a way that is clear and easy to understand?
- Are you confident that the lawyer will represent your best interests and handle your case competently?
- Do you understand the fee arrangement, and can you afford it?
Remember: you do not have to hire the lawyer you meet with if you are not satisfied with their responses. Before you sign a contract with a lawyer, read it carefully. Everything you agreed to should be in writing.
Disclaimer: All information is provided for courtesy and should be used for reference purpose only. Please note that neither International Student Services nor other PLU offices have the resources, training or legal authority to evaluate immigration law services.