What does an Immigration Paralegal do?

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  • Written By: Alexis W.
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 03 October 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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An immigration paralegal works for an immigration lawyer, assisting in legal research. An immigration paralegal may also be able to do some work for clients, such as helping those clients to fill out forms, documents and papers. Immigration paralegals serve an important role within the justice system, and exist in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and several other countries, although the requirements for an immigration paralegal differ in different jurisdictions.

Paralegals in the United States are individuals who assist attorneys in performing legal research. In most states, there are no formal minimum educational requirements for paralegals as there are for lawyers, although certification programs and degree programs do exist and can help an individual to become a paralegal. In Canada and the United Kingdom, paralegals are licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada and the National Association of Licensed Paralegals respectively, and so may hold a higher level of education and a higher degree of responsibility than paralegals within the United States.

Immigration paralegals in almost every country work with immigration attorneys to help clients with immigration issues. These issues may include problems obtaining citizenship, problems obtaining residency, or threats of deportation. Immigration lawyers help clients by assisting them in filling out required legal paperwork to obtain documents necessary to become a citizen, or by reviewing previous legal cases and precedent to determine an immigrant's rights.

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An immigration paralegal assists an immigration attorney in doing all of these tasks. Often, this takes the form of doing research on the law. A paralegal may research statutes, case law, or any other sources of law within the relevant jurisdiction to assist the attorney in representing clients.

Additional responsibilities may also exist for the immigration paralegal, depending on the situation. In the United States, for example, immigration paralegals may assist clients in filling out the forms and obtaining the documentation required to obtain citizenship. Paralegals in other countries may serve a similar function.

In the US, a paralegal's duties are generally limited by prohibitions against the unauthorized practice of law. Under US law, no individual other than a licensed attorney may give legal advice. This prohibition often extends to filling out legal forms.

Because many immigrants are of lower socioeconomic status and as a result cannot afford expensive legal representation, immigration paralegals have more leeway in assisting immigrants in filling out forms than they do in giving legal advice in certain other areas. Courts have recognized that it is beneficial to allow immigration paralegals to assist immigrants in filling out documents and getting legal help, since otherwise an immigrant may be unable to find the help he needs. As a result, immigration paralegals may run legal clinics or assist in legal aid societies, helping to provide low-cost immigration law help to immigrants.

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