How Much Does a U.S. Immigration Lawyer Cost?
If you’ve already started the immigration application process, you probably have been faced with a ton of paperwork, procedures, and questions along the way. It can be difficult and overwhelming if you have never been through this process before. Plus, you are more likely to miss important information or make a mistake on the paperwork simply because you don’t know it well. To make sure you’re filing the correct information and to ensure a quicker process, you should consider consulting a U.S. immigration lawyer.
What is a U.S. Immigration Lawyer?
Cases can sometimes be very complex with layers of different regulations, rules, and laws you need to navigate throughout the process. While some cases are simply a matter of filling out the proper paperwork, most are very specialized and require special knowledge of the law to ensure you’re completing the process correctly. This is where an immigration lawyer is helpful.
Immigration lawyers know how to achieve a successful outcome in your unique case because they specialize in immigration law. They can take care of the paperwork, filing, follow up, court cases, and more so that you don’t have to stress or worry. Immigration lawyers are not the highest-paid lawyers. They know that the clients they work with can have difficulty getting the proper access to resources, such as the right to work, and will often offer modified fees to fit with their clientele. Many opt to charge a flat fee instead of on an hourly basis. This is helpful for clients because if additional paperwork or interviews are needed, you won’t need to pay out of pocket. However, it’s important to note that each specific lawyer will have their own cost structure.
Before even hiring a lawyer, you’ll first need to expect to pay for the initial consultation. This is a scheduled time where you will sit down with your lawyer to go over your case, any important details, and information about yourself. Your potential lawyer will discuss what the plan of action will be moving forward, and will go over the cost of using their services.
The fee for the initial consolation can range from free to $500 depending on the specific lawyer you choose. Lawyers charge an initial consultation fee to ensure they are working with serious clients. Lawyers can’t afford to spend free time on a case especially if they offer a discounted fee or if the case won’t be able to proceed because there is no current remedy for their situation. Immigration Lawyers will ask you to sign a contract at the end of the consultation, but don’t feel pressured to sign right away until you have found the right lawyer. On average, clients will seek consultations of two to four lawyers to find the right trust-worthy person that to handle their unique case.
Typical Immigration Lawyer Fees
There are a lot of factors that determine the final cost of a lawyer, including the type of visa or permit you’re applying for, level of experience, location, and hourly rates of the lawyer.
1. Type of Application You’re Filing
The cost will depend on the type of application you are filling out because different applications vary in the information that they require. For example, in a Green Card Application, your fee will vary depending on the area where you live. In California, a marriage-based green card can run between $600-$4200, and a fiancé visa can cost you between $600-$2600. This cost will change if you are based in Florida.
If you are trying to file a Deportation Defense, this is charged differently because the client may need a variety of services including negotiating with a government lawyer, bond hearings, filing motions, and even appearing in court. The prices could be as low as $1500 or can climb to $15,000. If you have to appeal, you can expect that price to increase.
According to All Law Statistics, here are the average prices for different applications. It’s important to note that these prices will change depending on the location and specific details of your case.
- Application for Employment Authorization (Work Permit): $300-600
- Deportation Defense: $5,000-15,000
- Family-Based Green Card Petition: $1500-3,500
- Adjustment of Status Application: $1500-3500
- Employment-Based Petitions: $3,000-10,000
- Asylum Application: $3,000-10,000
- Citizenship/Naturalization Application: $750-1,500
2. The Level of Experience of the Lawyer
If you’re contacting an expert in immigration law, expect to see the prices reflect their experience. If they’ve been successful in their field, you’re paying for their expertise and time. However, if the prices seem way out of line with the rest of the lawyers you’ve contacted, dig deeper to understand if it has to do with experience, or they just overcharge. Check to make sure the lawyer you want to work with is current with their bar membership. If they have the title “consultant” in their title, they are not a real lawyer.
3. Location of the Lawyer
If the immigration lawyer you’re contacting is located in a big city like New York City or Miami, expect to pay a higher price. Big cities are generally more expensive, so the prices need to reflect the overhead that the lawyer would normally incur.
4. Hourly Rates
Generally, hourly rates for immigration lawyers can be anywhere between $200-400 an hour. Larger firms normally incur a higher overhead, so they’ll charge more than smaller, personal run firms. However, you can’t base the quality of the lawyer on the size of the firm. Instead, you should judge by their experience in handling similar situations to yours.
What if I Can’t Afford a Lawyer?
You could ask the immigration lawyer to split work to help you save money. This means that you only ask the lawyer to help with complex tasks on an hourly basis while you handle the follow-up work. Most lawyers will not want to participate in this arrangement because they will likely have to undo a lot of mistakes within the work.
It’s important to remember that you need to pay for the quality of service you want. Less expensive does not necessarily mean the best deal. It can end up costing you way more money when you need to get those mistakes fixed. When it comes to something as important as filing immigration papers, it’s better to find a high-quality immigration lawyer who has your best interests in mind.
FOR YOUR FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION WITH THE IMMIGRATION GUY, CALL (760) 280-7900.
Rick Sterger is a licensed attorney practicing immigration law throughout the United States. His practice, located in San Diego, California represents client before United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, Executive Office of Immigration Review (Immigration Court), Board of Immigration Appeals, and Circuit Courts of Appeals. Rick proudly maintains the practice of providing his initial client consultation for FREE. To schedule a consultation, call (760) 280-7900 today.