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Immigration Lawyer: Job Outlook & Career Info

Learn what undergraduate majors may help you in your path to becoming an immigration lawyer. See what the salary potential is for this field, as well as the employment projection. Information is also presented on an alternative career path.

Job Description for an Immigration Lawyer

Immigration lawyers tackle a variety of legal issues pertaining to immigrants and their residency status in the United States. On any given day, an immigration lawyer may assist a client seeking to file an employment-based visa, appealing a denial for citizenship, or participating in deportation defense proceedings. Immigration lawyers regularly communicate with many state and federal agencies, such as the Department of Labor, Department of Justice, Board of Immigration Appeals, and Circuit Courts.

Education Juris Doctor degree required, followed by state bar exam
Job Skills Research skills, knowledge of state and federal law, public speaking and presentation skills
Median Salary (2015)* $115,820 for all lawyers
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% for all lawyers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Although there is no one specific major in undergraduate studies that can fully prepare you for law school, it is advisable to take courses in the social sciences and humanities. These types of courses will give you a broader social, political, and economic perspective that can aid you in understanding immigration law. Prospective immigration lawyers could also choose a pre-law path to an undergraduate degree that focuses on diversity or immigrant rights and that requires strong research and writing abilities.

Once you've completed your undergraduate degree and the process of passing the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), completing law school will earn you a Juris Doctor degree (J.D.) that will qualify you to take your state's bar examination.

Job Skills

Like all lawyers, immigration lawyers must be excellent researchers to recall state and federal laws and legal processes. They should have polished public speaking and presenting skills, since they will be standing before committees and board members outside of regular court appearances.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the median annual salary for lawyers as $115,820 in May 2015. Geographical location and years of experience can increase the salary earnings in immigration law. Larger metropolitan areas and areas in the United States that are close to neighboring countries are in greater need of immigration lawyers because of their expanding immigrant populations. The BLS reported an expected 6% job growth for all lawyers between 2014 and 2024.

Alternative Career Option

For another option, consider this career in the legal field:

Arbitrator, Mediator, or Conciliator

This group of professionals resolves conflicts and negotiates cases outside of the courtroom on behalf of their clients. To become an arbitrator, mediator, or conciliator, one can complete a specialized certificate program; earn a master's or doctoral degree in law, public policy, or conflict resolution; or obtain a Juris Doctor. In 2015, these workers earned a median salary of $58,020. They were projected to experience a 9% increase in jobs from 2014 to 2024, according to the BLS.


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