When applying for immigration, you shouldn’t start the process alone. Using the services of an immigration attorney can make your case a success. However, hiring an attorney equates to adding legal fees to your immigration application. But, avoiding mistakes by using a lawyer would help you save time and money and prevent application denial.
Most times, people are shocked at the cost of hiring an immigration attorney. However, since the adjustments, biometrics, filing, visa, and government fees have been increasing, you might deem it fit to cut down your cost by handling your immigration process by yourself.
Though it might be expensive, some people have needs that justify the cost. Nevertheless, using an experienced lawyer might mean the difference between a lawful permanent residence and denial. So, let’s find out the cost of getting an immigration attorney to help with your case.
The typical rates of getting immigration lawyers
The fees for green card applications and other services vary based on the region in the U.S. but comparing prices from different areas would give you an insight into what to expect. For instance, in cities like Bakersfield, Northern California, Bakersfield-based immigration attorneys could charge between $750 and $2,000 for a basic visa application.
This amount doesn’t include the adjustment of the status application. Also, a marriage-based fee could cost from $800 to $4,000. For deportation proceedings in the immigration court, attorneys usually charge based on what they expect needs to be done.
For example, it might be appearing in court with you, filing other relief from removal applications, negotiating with the government attorney, filing motions, and bond hearings. Most times, the total cost of such a case could be as low as $1,500.
However, in complex cases, it could be higher than $10,000. For appeal cases, you should expect to pay even more. Sometimes, a lawyer might charge by the hour. You might pay around $100 to $350 per hour in such cases.
Below are some typical immigration lawyer fees:
- Family-based green card petitions: $800-3,000
- Citizenship or naturalization application: $500-1,500
- Employment authorization application (work permit): $300-600
- Application for adjustment of status: $600-2,500
- Application for asylum: $1,000-6,000
- Deportation defense: $2,000-15,000. This can increase depending on whether the case involves complex defense strategies or several court appearances.
The above estimates could be more expensive if you have immigration violations or criminal offenses. Additionally, you have to know that these attorney costs do not include the fee for USCIS filing which usually varies by form.
Most times, attorneys who work for bigger firms charge more than those in smaller firms. This is because most big firms have expenses they need to recover from passing these to you. But on the contrary, large law firms tend to have competent attorneys with the resources and support of their firm. So you can expect excellent service from them.
Also, several excellent attorneys don’t work for large law firms. Some are well-established, so they charge high rates. Experience matters in immigration law because the field is complicated, and thus you need to understand everything about it. So getting an attorney that charges less doesn’t mean they aren’t experienced.
Attorneys with high charge rates don’t necessarily equate to being the best. But then again, an unusually low fee can signify that the attorney isn’t necessarily a good one.
You always have to check the attorney’s bar membership. Also, it would help if you didn’t make the mistake of hiring a consultant, notario, or other pretenders unless it is a qualified paralegal working under a lawyer’s supervision.
Factors that affect an immigration attorneys fee
Several factors can affect the cost of an immigration lawyer. Usually, the following factors can affect the price a lawyer charges you:
● The applications you intend to make
Immigrants charge different fees for the type of application you intend to make. This is because each case involves an additional amount of work and complexity. So, what you are applying for, like an L1 visa or green card visa, will determine what the lawyer charges you.
● The task of the attorney
The task you want the lawyer to do will determine the fee you will be charged. For example, will they assist you in court with a deportation case? Or is it just filling out forms efficiently and correctly? So the charge will be based on whether they would appear in court or perform other tasks.
● The attorney’s experience level
Immigration law requires experience. More often than not, immigration attorneys with more experience have higher fees than others. So, you have to compare their costs to their experience label. The aim is to get an experienced and good attorney, but that doesn’t mean you should pay an unnecessary premium.
● Their location
Like many things, an attorney’s location would affect the cost of hiring them. Usually, attorneys in big cities such as San Francisco and New York charge more than immigration attorneys in small towns. Also, immigration attorneys in some states typically charge more than others.
Is the consultation fee compulsory for immigration attorneys?
In the state where you intend to interview attorneys to choose one and determine if the case is worth undertaking, you might schedule an initial consultation with some of the attorneys. For example, most immigration attorneys would have an initial consultation fee ranging between $100 to $400.
Some attorneys might provide a free initial consultation. However, many lawyers have found that this wastes their time since several immigrants have no remedy or visa. In addition, the attorney would not get a job after the initial consultation.
So, you have to be ready to pay a fair initial consultation fee. But you should not sign any contract for further services until you have gotten the right attorney for your case. To get this, you might need to first consult with about three attorneys.
Hiring an immigration attorney can reduce risk and also increase efficiency. For time-sensitive cases, immigration attorneys can also help you save much-needed time.
So when looking for an immigration attorney, you must beware of individuals and centers offering the lowest possible price. Some might not be lawyers and might not have the commitment or expertise you need for your case.
You can avoid pitfalls by hiring a qualified and experienced attorney who is a member of a professional organization like the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and is also aware of the changing trends in the complex area.