Hiring an Immigration Attorney: A Cost-Benefit Analysis
Immigrating to another country is a costly endeavor, not only financially, but emotionally, psychologically, and physically. Filing fees are rising, forms are increasingly complex and time-consuming to complete, and an expanding series of new barriers means that the stakes are as high as ever. All of this takes its toll. Accordingly, it may seem wise to trim costs where possible by relying on online forums and instruction booklets instead of on an experienced immigration attorney when navigating your case.
Don’t do it. Hiring expert legal representation minimizes the risk of your application being rejected or, worse, you making yourself vulnerable to exclusion or deportation from the U.S. Moreover, it saves you time and anxiety induced by navigating a complex process in which you are not an expert. Unless your case is unusually straightforward—and few are—working with an experienced attorney is surely the most secure path to long-term immigration stability. Consider the following factors in favor of involving a lawyer in your case.
Efficiency and Reduction of Risk
Lawyers save you time. Specifically, 4 to 8 weeks on average in processing. An experienced attorney will ensure your application is correctly filled out the first time, providing the peace of mind that you have applied for the correct visa or relief and have given yourself the best shot at success. In addition, you will be prepped for your consular or USCIS interview, streamlining the process and reducing the risk of final stage rejection. Finally, with a lawyer’s help, you will stay clear of those pitfalls that can lead to exclusion or deportation from the U.S.
Overcoming Non-Legal Presence
As the immigration statute grows increasingly complex, more and more individuals find themselves in an undocumented position. An attorney can assess the facts of your case and advise you on any available avenues to naturalization, saving you the potentially costly error of dead-end pursuits. Knowing that your chosen avenue to legal status is viable brings comfort, not only to you, but to your loved ones, as well.
How Much Does an Immigration Attorney Cost?
Individual attorney fees vary widely and depend upon the services sought. Hiring a lawyer to assist with a citizenship application is far less costly than contracting legal representation in a deportation case. Nonetheless, some basic numbers are as follows:
Application for Employment Authorization: $250-500
Citizenship/Naturalization Application: $500-1,200
Family-Based Green Card Petition: $800-1,500
Employment-Based Petitions: $1,500-5,000
Asylum Application: $1,000-3,000
Adjustment of Status Application: $600-1,200
Deportation Defense: $2,000-10,000 (and may go up further depending on the details of the case.
Keep in mind that these are only ballpark figures and that some lawyers may charge significantly more if specialized or highly reputed.
Worst Case Scenario
Whether or not to hire an attorney to assist with your case is a deeply personal decision that depends on how invested you are in immigrating to the U.S. Unfortunately, it is often those of most modest means that have the greatest need to leave their countries of origin. And yet, this is also the group with the most complex immigration cases. Take for instance the story of Susanna (not her real name). Susanna arrived to the U.S. on a tourist visa from Mexico and overstayed the time legally permitted to her by 7 months. Upon finding a relationship, she sought to gain a Green Card and returned to Mexico for a consular interview. Because of having remained in the country illegally for a period exceeding 180 days, she was barred from re-entering the U.S. for three years, ruining hers and her partner’s plans. Had she hired a lawyer from the start, she would have learned that because her initial entry was legal, she qualified for an adjustment of status that would have prevented from ever having to leave and, thus, ever being barred re-entry. While the initial cost of hiring a lawyer may seem steep, the potential long-term consequences of not doing so justify the expense.
Conclusion: An Experienced Immigration Attorney Is Worth It!
If you dream of settling in the U.S. and pursuing the range of opportunities offered by living in this country, contracting an experienced attorney is a worthwhile investment. After all, what price would you put on the long-term happiness of yourself and your loved ones?
Ask the Immigration Attorney
At Choudhury Law, we address immigration law with a compassionate ear and hand. If you have a question, feel free to submit it for FREE using the form below. Our immigration attorney, Amena Choudhury, will respond with an answer to your most burning question, with the hope that a certain answer will bring you some peace of mind…even in today’s stormy political environment.