Immigration paralegals may work for non-profit organizations, government agencies or private law firms. Most immigration paralegals work to help their clients become legal residents or naturalized citizens, though some immigration specialists may work for government agencies that deport illegal residents. The National Association for Legal Assistants 2010 salary survey found that the average salary for paralegals that specialize in immigration is $59,475.
Many immigration paralegals are bilingual and add the valuable service to their employer of being able to communicate with clients in their native tongue. In fact, some immigration paralegals have law degrees from other countries but are not yet eligible to practice in the United States. Languages commonly spoken by immigrants include: Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Tagalog, Portuguese, French and Indian (Hindi, Tamil, Punjabi and others).
Tasks performed by immigration paralegals may include:
- Communicating with clients
- Translating documents written in a foreign language
- Researching the availability of, and then obtaining, documents from foreign countries, including visas and passports
- Legal research on case law as related to immigration
- Evaluating the equivalency of foreign degrees
- Coordinating paperwork related to papers for immigration or citizenship, including affidavits, petitions, applications
- Preparing papers for deportation