US immigration has long had family reunification as a policy imperative. Ever since the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965, which prioritized family-based immigration, the bulk of immigrants coming to the United States have come through a family-based immigrant visa. Thus it makes sense that many immigration lawyers focus their practice on family-based cases.
Over time, though, employment-based immigration in the US has grown tremendously, especially as the number of immigrants working in high-skilled positions continues to rise, according to the Pew Research Center. The United States continues to be a leading destination for businesses around the world, and employers turn to immigrants more and more as they require a growing labor force. That means a continuously growing demand for business immigration services in the United States.
If you have primarily worked in family-based immigration up to this point, business immigration can be an extraordinary opportunity for you as an immigration lawyer to broaden your expertise and become a more versatile lawyer. But getting that first business immigration case can be tough. So, in this article, we’re going to look at how you can expand your family immigration law practice into the business immigration space.
Three steps to start building a business immigration practice
To start building your business immigration track record, the steps you’ll take may be similar to what you may have done in the past to get clients, but with a focus on employment-based cases. Let’s start with your former clients:
- Your past family immigration clients may be able to recommend you to businesses that need immigration help. Word of mouth is still one of the most powerful marketing strategies, so don’t be afraid to ask former clients if they know someone who may need business immigration support, whether an individual (e.g. who has questions around an EB green card) or a company (that may be looking to sponsor a worker). Remember that any referrals your clients bring to the table are part of what you calculate as a Customer’s Lifetime Value, which goes beyond what they could bring as an individual petitioner. And because that client was happy with your services, they’ll likely be happy to refer more business to you!
- Approach small businesses. Since you’re building your experience in business immigration, you’ll want to be deliberate and focused about how much you’re working on at a time. Focus on working with small businesses who may need help with just a handful of petitions so that you can work on them to completion without getting overwhelmed. And of course don’t neglect the rest of your practice amidst the excitement of this new opportunity! Not only to ensure that your existing clients continue to get the support they need, but also to give yourself time to familiarize yourself with this new area of immigration law.
- Add your new business immigration services to your website and other marketing platforms you may be using. Whether you’ve already worked on a particular business immigration case type, or you simply want to get into it, publicly advertising it is important to letting the world know about your new service. A few ways to do this include adding text to your website, posting about it across your social media channels, sharing it during speaking opportunities you may have, etc.
When you’re just starting to work on business immigration cases, leverage your network for support.
When you finally start working on business immigration cases, getting it right and building a successful track record is important. Luckily, there are ways in which you can get support along the way. Here are three of them.
- Mentorship: Given that business immigration is a new area for you, leverage the knowledge and experience of a mentor who has walked the path you’re just starting. If you don’t have a lawyer in your professional network that can mentor you on business immigration, check out your state bar association, your local AILA chapter to find out more about mentorship programs.
- Co-counseling: Another way in which you can learn closely from a more experienced lawyer is co-counseling. If you find someone to actively work with you on a new business immigration case, you get the benefit of having partial hands-on experience while learning from them at the same time.
- Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses: Taking Continuing Legal Education courses on business immigration topics can help you become more familiar with the types of cases you may want to start taking on, at least on a theoretical / academic level. You may still want to co-counsel with someone more experienced or at least get mentored by them as you actually get started on your first cases. One great place to access immigration-specific CLEs is AILA University.
- Specialized guides and reference books: Advance your learning about business immigration through books published by experienced attorneys. You can start with manuals and guides available at AILA or more specific books covering a particular visa type oftentimes published directly by practicing immigration attorneys. Some of these books go over procedures and applicable principles while others include practical items like templates you can use. All, however, are helpful.
At the end of the day, expanding your immigration practice takes time and patience. Leveraging the above recommendations will surely give you a lot of knowledge to get started, but nothing beats rolling up your sleeves and simply getting at it. So if you’re thinking about expanding your family immigration practice into the business immigration world, the best advice is to just go for it!
Docketwise grows with you as your expand into business immigration
Whether you’re a family immigration lawyer trying to expand into business immigration, or if you already handle some business immigration cases, Docketwise has everything you need to manage any type of immigration case from one platform. And if you’re an existing Docketwise focused on family immigration expanding into the business immigration side, check out our On Demand Webinars to learn how you can use your Docketwise account for your new clients and visa types. In these videos we explain product updates and walk you through some of our most helpful features, like Smart Forms.
At the end of the day, Docketwise provides a robust CRM, full immigration forms library, easy-to-use client questionnaires and industry-leading API integrations, all of which can help you stay up-to-date on all your immigration cases, communicate easily with your clients, and otherwise build and manage your immigration law firm as you grow and evolve.
If you want to learn more about Docketwise, schedule a demo at the link below, or sign up for our Immigration Briefings newsletter for daily and weekly immigration updates!