Immigration Lawyer
How to Become an

Immigration Lawyer

The complete career guide to be an Immigration Lawyer: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $136,260
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 5.6%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Dependable Daily Workload
    Career Attribute

An immigration lawyer is an attorney that specializes with cases related to immigration.  They assist their clients with things like attaining legal immigration status, citizenship and any other legal issues pertaining to immigration.

Recommended Schools

What is an Immigration Lawyer?

The following responsibilities are common for Immigration Lawyers:

  • Assists foreign nationals with with applications to potentially become citizens
  • Helps defend clients facing deportation and assists with appeals to legally stay in the country
  • Helps clients apply for Visas and work permits
  • Drafts legal documents, subpoenas and requests discovery if applicable
  • Interviews clients to assist them to the best of their ability with citizenship cases

A Day In The Life

Immigration attorneys advise clients on citizenship, immigration, migration, political asylum and also assist with the process of securing work and student visas.  On any given day they may help a client looking to file for a student visa or appealing for a denial of citizenship.

For individuals applying for a green card, the attorney walks their client through the process, which can possibly take years.  The attorney ensures that the employer satisfies the Department of Labor recruiting stipulations and completes and files all the necessary and proper paperwork.  Sometimes companies will hire these attorneys to assist them in obtaining work visa for foreign nationals.  They advise the company to make sure they are in compliance with the U.S. Citizenship Immigration Services statutes.

Typical Work Schedule

Most immigration lawyers tend to work the regular full-time schedule of 40 hours per week. The working hours may be increased based on the place and the number of clients. Immigration lawyers have to deal with multiple legal issues concerning immigrants and their residency status in the United States. Your tasks may include assisting clients seeking to file an employment-based visa, appealing a denial for citizenship, or participating in deportation defense proceedings. You may also need to communicate with many state and federal agencies to be able to properly defend your client. All of this may require additional hours to be able adequately longer than the regular working hours. You have to continuously to research state and federal laws and legal processes as well as good public speaking and presenting skills to be able to stand before committees and board members outside of regular court appearances and present your client’s case adequately. Immigration can also be affected by presidential decrees and situations as the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Projected Job Growth

There are currently more than 15,000 lawyers and law professors registered to the American Immigration Lawyers Association. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of lawyers in general is expected to increase by 4 % from 2019 to 2029 which is as fast as the average for other jobs. Despite the increasing demand for immigration lawyers, the competition for jobs will be high and certain skills will be helpful for this competition like the willingness to relocate and to be licensed in another state which may require taking an additional state bar examination. More cities in the United States especially those on the borders close to neighboring countries will provide higher demand for immigration lawyers because of their expanding immigrant populations.

Typical Employers

If you decided to become an immigration lawyer, you may be employed by different law firms as Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP, and Akerman LLP. Mostly you will prefer to be self-employed which may be harder but more financially fulfilling. Some immigration lawyers may even be employed by the government to provide legal assistance for those who cannot afford paying for it on their own.

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How To Become an Immigration Lawyer

In order to practice immigration law, one must first obtain a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related subject.  After receiving an undergraduate degree a student then can apply to law school.  A student must have exceptional grades in their undergraduate program to be accepted into law school.  During law school, in order to specialize in immigration, a student will be required to take classes like citizenship, advising, interviewing skills, and statutory analysis.  After studying for the three year law program, internships and other applicable work experience are vital for individuals that want to stand out to potential employers.  Once a students law degree is obtained they must then take the practicing states resident Bar exam in order to practice law.

Immigration Lawyer Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

Low Range




High Range


How do Immigration Lawyer salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Immigration Lawyer's can make an average annual salary of $136,260, or $66 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $76,300 or $37 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #22 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming an Immigration Lawyer. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Immigration Lawyers

  • 91%   Doctorate
  • 4.1%   Masters
  • 3.5%   Bachelors
  • 0.5%   Associates
  • 0.4%   College
  • 0.4%   High School
  • 0.1%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Immigration Lawyer job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 43,800 jobs for a total of 822,500 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 5.6% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #401 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Immigration Lawyers

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Legal services 376,100 22,100 22%
Self-employed workers 165,500 -1,800 -2%
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 55,600 5,300 5%

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