You can save yourself and your immigration lawyer a lot of frustration if you follow this advice about the top 10 things to know before contacting your immigration attorney. Also, watch the livestream about this topic;
1. Contact your immigration lawyer at least 3-6 months in advance. If you have a criminal record, notify your attorney during that first conversation. It’s best to get a copy of your criminal report, then send it to the immigration attorney so they can let you know if you will be able to get a visa
2. The best way to reach an immigration attorney in Panama is WhatsApp. You will need to add the attorney to your contact list. Be sure to add a + in front of the 507 (ProTip: Only Panama cell phones can receive a WhatsApp. Cell phone numbers are +507 plus an 8-digit number. Landlines only have 7-digits)
3. When you send an email or WhatsApp, keep it short! The lawyer does not need to know your life history. Keep to the facts about getting a visa. One to two paragraphs is best. If you send an email, you should also send a WhatsApp says, please check your email. In your email or WhatsApp message, you can request that your attorney call you. Suggest some dates and times.
4. Keep emails and WhatsApp messages short. Only one topic at a time. Do not send a list of questions. If your message is long, it will be put at the bottom of the list of messages to answer because it takes longer to read. You can request a call.
5. Discuss which visa you want and get, verify that you qualify, and get a list of documents you will need to gather to get a visa. Get an itemized bill of exactly what the charges will be so there are no surprises. Ask if there is an extra charge if you pay with a credit card (many lawyers charge 3% for using a credit card).
6. Talk SLOW!. Remember that English is your immigration lawyer’s second language. Though many lawyers speak excellent English, it’s easier for them to understand you if you talk slowly.
7. Once you gather the documents on the list that your attorney gave you, scan the documents, then email or send WhatsApp to your attorney so they can review them before you get an apostile or authentication.
8. All documents for getting a visa must be authenticated or apostiled in YOUR country. They cannot be authenticated in Panama. Don’t come to Panama with documents that are not apostiled or authenticated.
9. You will be required to pay a retainer fee. And the final payment is usually made after you get your visa. If you can’t afford to pay the retainer fee or final payment, wait until you can afford to get a visa. Do not ask your attorney for discounts or to wait to get paid. Your attorney works hard to get your file ready to submit to immigration so you can get a visa. They deserve to get paid on time.
10. Be on time and dressed appropriately for all lawyer and immigration appointments. Don’t be late. Business casual is the normal dress code at immigration to show respect.
Watch the replay of the LiveStream about the Top 10 Things You Need to Know BEFORE Contacting an Immigration Lawyer: