Immigration Law Training Programs and Requirements
Immigration lawyers work with clients who are trying to acquire the legal right to stay in a country where they don't possess citizenship. Issues related to this include political asylum, extradition and visas. Interested students earn a law degree from a comprehensive program that is up-to-date on immigration laws.
Training Requirements and Recommendations
In order to practice law in the United States, immigration lawyers earn a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from an accredited program. This education follows the completion of their undergraduate degree. Law students generally come from many different disciplines and not just pre-law. Additionally, most students complete internships in order to obtain practical experience in a specialized field, such as immigration law.
A J.D. program requires three years of full-time enrollment in an accredited law school and a bachelor's degree. Law school admissions are highly competitive, and students complete the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) in order to be considered for acceptance.
The curriculum for a J.D. program is very structured and incorporates coursework in different areas, such as dispute resolution, legal research, contracts, ethics and interviews. Students may specialize in a specific area during the final two years, including immigration law. Some course topics for immigration law training are immigrant rights, visa processes, naturalization and deportation. Students pass comprehensive examinations in order to graduate.
The majority of law schools provide ample internship opportunities, and some J.D. programs require students to gain field experience prior to graduation. Immigration law training may be gained through clinics, projects or firms. Many recent law school graduates start either as an intern for a judge or an associate at a law firm. These positions require long hours until experience and seniority are earned. Most lawyers are associates for several years before they're considered for a promotion within the firm.
Licenses and Certifications
All practicing lawyers are licensed in their respective states. In order to meet the requirements for licensure, it's necessary to earn a J.D. from an accredited program. Graduates complete the state's bar examination and often the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE). The MPRE is required as part of the bar exam in 48 states and other U.S. districts.
Workshops and Seminars
Many workshops are available through law associations, government agencies and employers to keep legal counselors up-to-date on the latest legal changes and case law issues. Immigration law training is continuous in order for attorneys to do their best work. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) sponsors an annual national conference along with regular regional meetings by individual chapters.
Additional Professional Development
Members of AILA receive business management support, current news alerts, research resources and networking opportunities. Additionally, numerous publications are readily available. Immigration lawyers also complete a varying number of continuing education hours in order to maintain state licensure.
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