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The Rise of the US Immigration Lawyer

Research for the Chambers USA Guide continues to showcase the rising demand for expert immigration counsel, with the scope of Chambers coverage into the market increasing exponentially over recent years.

Published on 7 April 2022
Written by Kushraj Cheema
Kushraj Cheema

COVID-19 Disruption

In March 2020, responding to rising cases of COVID-19 worldwide, the Trump Administration announced a series of new travel restrictions aimed at curbing international arrivals from Europe and China.

The travel ban and spiking global case numbers also prompted US embassies and consulates worldwide to wind down operations, while in the USA the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) also saw its operations brought to a virtual standstill amid lockdowns and local restrictions.

“When COVID-related travel bans were implemented, several employees found themselves stuck abroad, unable to return to the US. The firm swiftly assisted several employees navigate the new rules, when the government protocols were not clearly established, and we were able to successfully reunite families.”

Immigration Curbed

This double-whammy was felt particularly strongly by companies and individuals looking to secure visas for transfer to the United States, as well as by existing visaholders resident in the country. Applicants saw ballooning processing times and worldwide embassy closures prevented those with approved applications from having their visas stamped, while many with valid visas also found themselves subjected to re-entry restrictions.

Rising Demand for Immigration Legal Services

In the face of the severe disruption to global mobility, both corporate and individual clients leaned significantly on their legal service providers, with Chambers researchers receiving a wealth of accumulated feedback in appreciation of firms’ guidance and advice in the face of shifting restrictions and processing times.

“Our attorney was adept at providing immigration advice during the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, when immigration options were drastically limited and yet frequently changing.”

The Chambers USA Guide has seen an explosion of feedback and coverage of the immigration sector in the years since the first outbreaks of the coronavirus. The number of practice group rankings awarded in our Immigration categories has increased by 55 percent since 2020, while the numbers of individual attorneys securing rankings has increased by over 70 percent.

The Chambers USA Guide now includes immigration tables in 21 US states, as well as in the District of Columbia and nationally, tripling in number since 2019. The newest iteration of the Chambers USA Guide, due to be released on June 1st, will also feature newly added tables in Tennessee, Nebraska, Virginia and West Virginia.

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Best Performing Immigration Practices

“They’re amazing at figuring out solutions for complex matters. This really shined through in the past year given Covid restrictions.”

The immigration rankings themselves remain largely the preserve of immigration specialist firms, with Fragomen and Berry Appleman achieving the greatest number of immigration rankings. Firms with traditional strengths in labor and employment work also perform strongly in Chambers’ immigration coverage, including Fisher Phillips, Jackson Lewis and Ogletree Deakins.

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Increased Focus on Immigration Research for 2023

As USCIS and US embassies beginning to resume routine services, albeit somewhat interrupted as local coronavirus caseloads rise, international clients and professionals are beginning to see improvements in processing times and the potential for global mobility. The rise in demand for immigration experts will, however, remain a core focus for the Chambers team as we embark on research for the 2023 iteration of the Guide.

The Chambers USA 2022 Guide will be released on June 1st.

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