Contacts & Information
GEO is the main contact for student and scholar immigration issues at UNM.
However, if a student or scholar has a complicated immigration issue or problem or wants to apply for permanent residency he/she may need to contact the Albuquerque office of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or an immigration attorney.
These references are listed below. Please note that the Albuquerque USCIS office does not deal with student or scholar immigration questions.
Albuquerque USCIS Office
Before you visit the Albuquerque USCIS office, you must make an appointment online using the InfoPass system.
To do this, visit http://infopass.uscis.gov. The USCIS office is located at:
Albuquerque, NM 87106-4245
Hours: Monday - Thursday, 8:30am-3:30pm
and Fridays, 8:30-12:00pm
Hiring an Immigration Attorney
Immigration law is complex and changes frequently. Attorneys, also called "lawyers," are trained in graduate school and licensed by states to practice law. Most attorneys select an area of specialization such as immigration, patents, wills and probate, or litigation. An immigration lawyer should have a thorough understanding of laws and procedures that pertain to non-US citizens. A good attorney who specializes in immigration law will present you with the legal options that are available to you and can correctly prepare and file immigration petitions. Locating a good immigration attorney is important. You will likely spend considerable time and money working with your attorney. As with any important decision, do your research and take the time to make an educated choice.
Hiring a competent immigration attorney can help you avoid unnecessary processing delays and many hours of work interpreting immigration procedures, and preparing paperwork and petitions.
Attorneys are regularly involved in H-1B petitions for "specialty occupations," O applications for "persons of extraordinary ability," and for employment-based permanent residency ("green card") applications.
A lawyer should also be consulted if you have a complicated situation which is beyond the regular scope of your Foreign Student/Scholar Advisor.
There are many situations where a person can successfully file a petition with immigration without the help of an immigration attorney.
Family-based permanent residency application (i.e. based on marriage to a US citizen) is one such example. If you decide to file a petition on your own, you may want to pay for an initial consultation with a qualified lawyer to get you started.
You must become completely informed about the procedures and requirements of your particular petition type and be prepared to begin early to allow ample time for each step of the process.
Begin by visiting the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website at https://www.uscis.gov/ for forms and general information.
American Immigration Lawyer's Association (AILA) Immigration Lawyer Referral Service:AILA is a national bar association of over 7,500 attorneys who practice immigration law. To access the AILA referral Service, call 800.954.0254, or email email@example.com. Give your name, location, and the reason you need an immigration lawyer. You will be given the contact information of a local lawyer who specializes in your area of need. You will be charged no more than $100 for an initial in-person, one-half-hour consultation. When you contact the lawyer, mention that you used the AILA Immigration Lawyer Referral Service.
New Mexico Bar Association: The New Mexico Bar Association offers a Public and Legal Services Referral Program. The referral program offers 30 minutes consultation/case assessment with a private attorney for a cost of $26.45. A paralegal will ask for information needed to determine the area of law and county needed for the referral. A paralegal will then contact attorneys and find one to consult with you for 30 minutes. During the 30-minute consultation, you will receive legal advice, have documents reviewed and have questions answered by an attorney. Any representation or time beyond the 30-minute consultation/case assessment must be negotiated with the attorney. To use this service, please call the Referral Program for a referral at 505.797.6066 or the Toll Free Number 800.876.6227 between 8:30am-12:30pm Monday to Friday or you can fill out the Intake Form online and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may pay for the consultation fee by credit card, check or money order or online by visiting http://www.nmbar.org/store/productdetail.aspx?productcode=BTJ_REFERRAL. For more information about public services offered by the NM Bar Association, please visit www.nmbar.org
Albuquerque Bar Association:The Albuquerque Bar Association also offers lawyer referral services. They will arrange 30 minutes appointment with an attorney on any type of legal matter. The appointments can be made within 2-5 business days and you will need to pay a $30 fee. The fee has to be paid before the appointment is made, by cash money order or credit cards. Personal checks are not acceptable. The appointment can be made overt the phone 505.243.2615 or in person by going to the Albuquerque Bar Association Office located at 400 Gold SW Suite 620. For more information about this service, please visit The Albuquerque Bar Association Referral Service site
American Bar Association:For general information about the legal system and hiring an attorney, you can visit the ABA website
Catholic Charities of Central New Mexico (Albuquerque):Catholic Charities in Albuquerque offers a variety of immigration and legalization services to immigrants at a low cost. Their services include an initial free consultation for first time clients only. In order to reserve a seat for consultation, you will need to call them at 505.247.0442. Consultation days vary depending on their capacity to help the community. They also offer translation of documents, fingerprints for FBI background checks and citizenship classes among others. They are located at 2010 Bridge Blvd SW. For detailed information about services offered, visit their website at http://www.ccasfnm.org/
Friends and Colleagues:As an international student or scholar, you may know someone who previously used the services of an immigration attorney. Seek out the informed opinions of friends and colleagues to obtain the attorney's name and contact information, the type of petition filed, and your friend's level of satisfaction.
Yellow Pages:Check the Yellow Pages section of the phone book or visit www.yellowpages.com
How long has the attorney been practicing immigration law; how much of his/her work is immigration related? How much experience does the attorney have in your particular type of immigration case?
Find an attorney who does all or most of their work in immigration law.
Will the attorney offer an initial consultation before you hire her to take your case?
If so, be sure to find out how much the consultation will cost and how long will it be.
How will you contact the attorney?
Is she accessible via cell phone, pager, email, office phone?
Who will be handling the details of your case?
Will you contact the attorney or a paralegal with questions? What is the training and experience of the paralegal?
Who will choose the attorney and pay the legal fees for an employment-based petition?
In employment-based cases, the employer may make the choice about which attorney will be used. The employer may designate either an "in house" attorney or immigration specialist who works for the company or an outside attorney who will be paid a fee by the employer. In some cases, the employer pays and in some cases the fee is split between employee and employer. An employment-based petition will involve you, the employer, and the attorney. Even if the employer pays the fees, you are also the attorney's client. Do not be bashful about asking questions and talking to the attorney about the progress and details of your petition.
How much will it cost to hire the attorney for your case?
Rates vary significantly based on geographic location, the specifics of your situation, and other factors. Be sure to ask before the work begins what the costs will be. In the New Mexico area, an H1B petition cost $ 1,500 to $3,000 and a permanent residency ("green card" or "immigrant") petition can cost $3,000 to $6,000.
Will you be charged a flat rate, or an hourly rate? If it is a flat rate, what services does the flat rate include?
For example, if an initial petition is denied, will an appeal be included in the flat rate?
Will you pay before ("up front") or after services have been rendered?
If you pay before services are provided, you may be placed on the bottom of the priority list. However, please be aware that the majority of attorneys will ask to be paid what is called a "retainer" which is a partial fee paid in advance for his/her professional services.
Foreign nationals who are employed by UNM in H-1B or O status or for whom the university is applying for permanent residency (PR) will need to consult an attorney. All H1B, O or PR cases for UNM are to be processed by one of several local UNM approved immigration law firms. Several of the lawyers will offer a free phone consultation. These are: