The study of immigration law is available as an area of concentration within a Juris Doctor (J.D.) program. J.D. programs typically take three years of graduate study to complete, during which time future lawyers apply for clinical immigration law programs; in the clinical program, students may learn to practice immigration law by offering free legal counsel to refugees. Immigration law students participate in mock courtroom proceedings and class lectures, and they often work as advocates for immigrants and refugees.
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Juris Doctorate with Specialization in Immigration Law
In order to enter a JD program, students must have earned a bachelor's degree, possess satisfactory LSAT scores, and attend a personal interview with a faculty members. Immigration law school students pursue internships and take general courses, such as constitutional law, ethics, corporate law, family law, taxation, real estate law, advocacy and torts. They also study immigration law topics, such as:
- Deportation laws
- Permanent resident alien laws
- Refugee laws
- International criminal laws
- Administrative procedures for establishing U.S. residence
In order to practice law, graduates of a law school must apply for state licensure and pass their state's bar examination; an ethics examination may also be required. Continuing education is necessary to maintain licensure.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Immigration lawyers are attorneys who specialize in immigration cases typically involving visas, extradition, political asylum and immigrant mistreatment. Many of these professionals work closely with foreign nationals wishing to reside permanently or temporarily within the United States. For the period of 2014-2024, employment of attorneys is expected to increase 6%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In 2015, lawyers earned a median salary of $115,820 according to the BLS. The bottom ten percent earned $55,900 or less, while the top ten percent earned up to $187,200 per year.
Immigration law courses and programs prepare lawyers to represent individuals who wish to become residents or citizens of another country. By earning a JD with a specialization in immigration law, you will have the skills to perform important duties to help people create a new life, as well as qualify for licensure.