Paralegals cannot provide legal advice, but they can assist lawyers with law office tasks, trial preparation, and other legal matters. For example, immigration paralegal work could entail conducting intake interviews with potential clients, conducting legal research, writing legal summaries, legal writing (such as memoranda on prospective cases or other legal documents), or interviewing witnesses. Another task that immigration paralegals may perform is assisting clients in obtaining the necessary documents to apply for citizenship. A college degree and paralegal training are usually required if you want to work as an immigration paralegal.
If you want to work as an immigration paralegal, you can take one of two paths. One option is to attend college and earn a bachelor’s degree in any subject, followed a post-paralegal bachelor’s certificate from an American Bar Examination (ABA)-approved program. You could also get a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies from a college that already has an ABA-approved paralegal program. Because immigration paralegals frequently work with people whose first language is not English, it may be beneficial to learn a foreign language in addition to paralegal education.
Paralegal programs that have been approved the American Bar Association are not specialist programs. In other words, people interested in becoming immigration paralegals do not become specialists in the field while enrolled in a paralegal program. Rather, after completing paralegal school, aspiring paralegals can specialize in immigration work.
If you want to work as an immigration paralegal, you must become an expert in the legal system while in paralegal school. You should also improve your legal research and writing skills, as you will need to be able to locate relevant information and draft documentation as needed your supervising attorney. You should also be able to write letters to customers or potential customers.
If you want to work as an immigration paralegal, you should apply for a job in an immigration law firm during your last semester of paralegal school. Working with your school’s career services department is one way to find a job; however, there are also jobs listed on the ABA website, as well as paralegal jobs in your local newspaper’s jobs section. There are also websites that list paralegal jobs and immigration paralegal jobs from time to time.
Another thing to keep in mind is that paralegal certification, in addition to paralegal school, can be beneficial. For example, passing an exam administered the National Association of Legal Assistants could lead to certification as a Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) (NALA). Although certification is not yet required in all locations, it may help you find jobs as an immigration paralegal with greater responsibility and pay.