Many times we hear from foreign national employees who are having problems with their immigration status and don’t know who to turn to. Their employer tells them that the “immigration attorney” only represents the company, not the employee. Even the immigration attorney tells them the same thing.
The immigration attorneys who tell employees this are probably not very good immigration attorneys but they are certainly not ethical immigration attorneys. Although this issue has been debated for many years, the best research, law review articles and written opinions clearly conclude immigration attorneys represent the petitioning company and the beneficiary/employee. The same is true for family cases when there is a petitioner and beneficiary. Obviously this can be a very complicated and tricky issue in any immigration case but it is particularly dangerous in marriage cases when the couple decide to divorce in the middle of the case.
This “dual representation” occurs regardless of how or where the case is started, and regardless of who pays the attorney’s fees and costs.
To those immigration attorneys and employers who claim the attorney only represents the company, one of the most prominent immigration attorneys on this issue flatly states this erroneous conclusion is “clearly unethical and may create malpractice risks.” Dual Representation in Immigration Practice, attached to this article, by Bruce A. Hake, at page 29. Mr. Hake further states that this conclusion “is supported by an apparent majority of the immigration bar and by bar ethics authorities that have addressed this issue.” Mr. Hake, infra, a page 29, citing Los Angeles County Bar Ass’n Ethics Comm. Formal Op. No. 465 (April 15, 1991).
The attached article is a very clear and persuasive argument that immigration attorneys represent both petitioners and beneficiaries. Immigration attorneys who refuse to assist or represent both parties in an immigration case do so at their own peril.
Dual Representation in I_001