Legal immigration is a complex process that takes diligence and patience on the part of the immigrant. Immigration rules vary for each country, and as a result the process should never be undertaken alone or without the correct preparation. The best immigration advice, no matter which nationalities are involved, inevitably comes from both the relevant governments and specialized immigration attorneys.
Given the legal complexities involved with immigration, an individual considering emigrating to another country should consult with representatives from the prospective new government. In most cases, the country's diplomatic embassy will have special counselors whose job it is to provide guidance and immigration advice. They will sit down with a potential immigrant and run through the various requirements that may exist regarding visas, employment, and housing, among other things.
Most countries have varying levels of legal immigration, ranging from temporary work visas to more permanent arrangements such as green cards, which allow a foreign citizen to live in a country legally for an indefinite period of time, and ultimately full citizenship. In most cases, each level requires a minimum background and security check, with increasingly complex and lengthy steps moving toward full citizenship. Typically, more legal benefits are afforded the closer one gets to this status, handed off from the old country to the new one.
Beyond the basic legal questions surrounding moving from one country to another, there are numerous ancillary factors such as which taxes must be paid to which country, how bank accounts and driver's licenses are managed, how the legal status of children is dealt with, and so on. Generally, these fall outside the purview of government immigration officials and are better dealt with by an attorney who specializes in immigration matters. Such lawyers can be found through word of mouth, on the Internet, and often on the recommendation of government immigration officials.
Immigration attorneys are experts on the ins-and-outs of moving between countries and are trained to offer immigration advice on a wide range of related areas, often in multiple languages. For many individuals, the prospect of picking up and settling in a new country, potentially hundreds or thousands of miles away from friends and family, is daunting enough. Immigration lawyers are knowledgeable about how to get a driver's license or obtain credit for the first time, along with other similar questions that often arise when moving to a new country.
There is often a price associated with immigration advice, and most attorneys who practice in this field charge a rate for their services that can exceed $100 US dollars (USD) per hour. A free consultation is often provided, along with the option of payment plans for individuals who prefer to pay over time rather than in a lump sum. For many, the peace of mind their immigration advice provides is worth the cost.