How to Start an Immigration Service

By Helen Harvey
Potential U.S. immigrants often require assistance in understanding and completing forms.

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For many potential immigrants to the United States, the immigration process can seem daunting, particularly, if they do not have a good command of the English language. Many cannot afford to consult an attorney, but could benefit from reasonably-priced assistance with their applications to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. If you do not plan on having a state bar certified attorney on staff, you may not give legal advice to clients, but you may offer assistance with application completion and processing. This can be a sound and lucrative business for a paralegal with immigration experience, especially one with multilingual skills-- providing the right business location is selected.

Decide what structure your business will have and complete the necessary paperwork to gain state and local business licences and IRS business status.

Develop a comprehensive business plan, stating what specific immigration services you will provide, and identifying your target market. You will require a solid business plan if you hope to receive business start-up loans and grants. The Small Business Administration is a good resource for entrepreneurs looking to start a business.

Familiarize yourself with all aspects of immigration law and keep up-to-date with the regular changes in immigration requirements of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. You will also need to be familiar with the Homeland Security Act of 2002, and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. If you have not had experience working for an immigration attorney, it would be a good idea to seek some specialist paralegal training. Obtaining an associate's degree in paralegal studies or a paralegal certification would help give credibility to your professionalism.

Create a disclaimer that absolves your business from responsibility for the outcome of your clients' immigration applications. You must ensure that your clients are aware that your assistance does not guarantee them a successful outcome and that you are not providing them with legal advice specific to their circumstances.

Seek a suitable location for your business. Locate areas with high populations of immigrants. If you speak languages other than English, find neighborhoods with a high density of speakers in that language.

Find inexpensive and target-specific ways to advertise your services. Use in local publications that are aimed at your target market. Find community groups who issue newsletters and buy space in their newsletters. Have a simple Web site built for your business and take part in online social networking sites. Join the local Chamber of Commerce and other associations that will enable you to network.

About the Author

Helen Harvey began her writing career in 1990 and has worked in journalism, writing, copy-editing and as a consultant. She has worked for world-class news sources including Reuters and the "Daily Express." She holds a Master of Arts in mass media communications from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.

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