How much does an immigration lawyer cost? What are the pricetags for immigration lawyer services to move to the United States? Prepare to stare in round-eye wonder as the price tag can get pretty decent. In the meantime, immigration is a serious deal with its own “legal” pitfalls, so the costs are easily justified.
Let’s say, you are staking at the O1 visa granted to “talented” applicants in multiple scopes – from business, and science to sports, and media influencers. For those outstanding talents and expertise to be recognized by the embassy, they must be confirmed at the international or regional levels. Immigration lawyers are closely involved in the process of collecting evidence, which can take them up to a year or longer.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire an Immigration Lawyer?
So here it comes to immigration attorney fees. A lot of it depends on the type of payment. Some may charge an hourly fee, while others divide the range of services with a separate price for each one. A lot of lawyers have free consultations or they carry out preliminary meetings.
Traditionally, most immigration lawyers work on a “flat rate” basis. So regardless of the time spent, a lawyer takes a pre-agreed sum for a certain case category. This system originated at a time when immigration law had a much more “predictable” element than it does now.
However, times have changed and services, so more specialists are either switching to the so-called “combined agreement” (standard services come at a fixed rate and all “extras” are compensated separately), or choosing an hourly rate system.
According to the AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association) report, the hourly rate for an immigration lawyer is currently in the range of $ 200 to $ 1,000 per hour.
Pricing for the First Consultation
As mentioned earlier, many attorneys offer the first consultation for free or at a low-cost rate. The meeting can take place in the office, but these days it’s more convenient to carry out Skype or Zoom calls. The first consultation can last from 30 to 60 minutes. This gives you the opportunity to evaluate chances for a successful immigration case and assess the credibility of a lawyer. The approximate pricing for a first consultation is $150 or even less.
On rare occasions, some clients tend to resolve their issues right at this first meeting. However, for most scenarios, the real goal of a free consultation is to figure out how a particular lawyer can help to win your case.
List of Immigration Service Costs
There is a wide range of fees depending on the lawyer’s experience and the market itself. It’s reasonable to learn the pricing rates of at least 2-3 lawyers instead of just one.
Below is a list of approximate fees for a few common immigration services:
- Green Card petition for relatives: from $ 1000 to $ 3500
- Status Adjustment Application: $ 2,000 to $ 5,000
- Application for Citizenship / Naturalization: $ 500 to $ 2500
- Green Card Renewal: from $ 300 to $ 700
- Application for an Asylum: $ 1000 to $ 7000
- Deportation Protection: $ 4,000 to $ 12,000 (and higher if the case is complicated).
All of these estimates get more expensive if you have felonies or immigration violations. Also, the listed costs do not include USCIS filing fees.
Fixed Pricing Rate
As much as lawyers try to switch to an hourly rate system, some specialists would prefer to work at a fixed rate. But in many cases, fixed pricing is a risk for both parties. The client must pay the agreed amount, even if the lawyer spent less time on the work than expected. On the other hand, the lawyer risks encountering much more workload than initially negotiated.
In the immigration law, the fixed-rate system is used for services with the least expected “pitfalls”. Those are:
- family reunification;
- refugee petitions;
- work visas;
- naturalization petitions (with no complicating factors);
- PERM (Program Electronic Review Management);
- …and other “regulatory” cases.
How to Choose a Good Immigration Lawyer?
Which factors determine the level of proficiency of an immigration attorney?
- Make sure your lawyer has decent experience in the field of immigration law, preferably 10 years. The more – the better. All immigration lawyers in the United States are affiliated with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Before you pick the one, check if one is the AILA member by entering the name on the official website.
- The attorneys accompanying applicants for the EB-5 Investor Program are typically affiliated with this industry trade association (IIUSA).
- Make sure your potential lawyer has no disciplinary sanctions. If you know at least the physical address of the lawyer’s office, you’ll be able to check this data through the lawyer databases for each individual state.
- Knowledge of the client’s native language is highly preferable. The reason is, immigration lawyer works with documents from your country and must fully understand the meaning and significance of each document.
- Experience of working with the territorial consulate where your case will be considered. Different consular departments have different nuances in their practice.
- Make sure your attorney has significant experience in solving cases similar to yours. Some lawyers list descriptions of their cases on their websites. If there is no portfolio to view, ask about the lawyer’s experience during the first consultation. Be careful with attorneys specialized in multiple law fields. There is a risk they don’t have enough in-depth knowledge, which may be decisive in solving your case successfully.
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An immigration lawyer holds a lot of responsibility and to some extent, determines your future. Remember this and choose your lawyer wisely.