Clients of immigration attorneys don’t often need to pay as much as they would for other types of attorneys due to the nature of immigration cases. Many lawyers in this practice area understand that immigrants struggle financially because of the difficulties experienced finding work in America, leading attorneys to modify the fees they charge as needed.
While the legal services of an immigration lawyer may be more affordable, there are some costs that they will incur. It’s important to keep the different factors in mind that could contribute to these costs prior to seeking an attorney.
Will I Have to Pay a Consultation Fee to an Immigration Lawyer?
When looking for the right attorney, the process will entail meeting with lawyers in consultations. These will account for the first costs associated with hiring an attorney.
The majority of immigration lawyers will charge between $100 and $400 for a consultation to discuss a case, while some may provide free consultations for prospective clients. Most attorneys charge a fee because of the amount of time they spend on consultations, many of which may not lead to representation because the immigrant doesn’t have a visa or another viable option available to them.
Generally, individuals can expect to pay a fee to initially consult with an attorney. However, it’s important for immigrants to avoid settling on an attorney until they’ve found the right fit for them and their case.
In some cases, if an attorney chooses to represent an immigrant and take them on as a client, the lawyer may count the fee as a credit to contribute to a later charge after closing the case.
What Are Immigration Attorneys’ Typical Rates?
The initial consultation with a Chicago immigration attorney will normally count toward the first costs. After that, individuals need to consider the typical rates of attorneys in this practice area.
Additionally, one expense to consider is the cost of a green card application, among other services. For example, a business visa typically costs $160. Meanwhile, a family visa could cost around $1,000 to secure with application and petition fees. In some cases, the cost of an application may vary depending on the prices in a specific area of the U.S.
If an immigrant is in the process of going through removal proceedings, the attorney may choose to charge based on what the lawyer expects will be required to complete the process. These charges may cover government lawyer negotiations, bond hearings, motions filed, court appearances, and application filing for relief from removal, among other aspects of the case. The complexity of the case will also influence the final cost, which means that a case can cost as little as around $1,500 or upwards of $10,000, which excludes the cost of the appeals process.
Attorneys may charge an hourly rate for representation, which could fall between $100 and $350 per hour. Attorneys with larger law firms will typically charge more than smaller firms due to the higher costs associated with running a large firm. On the other hand, working with an attorney at a larger firm may increase an individual’s chance of success with his or her immigration case due to the fact that these firms tend to hire reputable attorneys to boost the firm’s reputation.
Even if immigrants choose an individual attorney, many solo practitioners have built a solid reputation as immigration attorneys. These attorneys may charge higher rates because of their level of experience and quality of service. Having an experienced attorney providing representation can go a long way in helping secure a successful outcome in a case.
The best way to find the right attorney is to conduct some research into each lawyer and find out what types of qualifications they have, along with previous successes with other clients.
Immigration Attorney Cost Factors
Ultimately, when selecting a lawyer, there are four major cost factors to consider that will influence the total amount of money individuals spend on representation.
These factors include:
The Specific Case
Some immigrants may require attorneys to help with properly completing and filing forms. Others may need representation in court when facing deportation or criminal charges. These and other services will contribute to the costs of hiring an attorney.
The other main cost factor that influences attorney fees is the level of experience the attorney has. While some attorneys who are relatively new to immigration law may be perfectly competent, it’s often best to work with an attorney that has proven experience and prior successes. The more experience an attorney has, the higher the rate.
The Attorney’s Location
The area where the attorney practices will also affect the total price of hiring the attorney. For instance, an attorney practicing in a large city will typically charge more than a small-town lawyer. In some states, additional fees may also come into play.
The Extent of Services
The types and extent of services will also dictate the total cost of hiring an attorney. Some immigrants may require citizenship for immediate relatives, while others may only need assistance with getting a business visa. The attorney will be able to discuss what the case will entail during the initial consultation and gauge whether they’re able to provide representation. In the process, the attorney can also determine the rate they’ll charge for these services.
What if I Can’t Afford an Immigration Attorney?
If individuals are unable to cover the costs of hiring an immigration lawyer but still require legal assistance, they can still get what they need with payment options.
Some attorneys may be able to divide the work between themselves and their client, in which case the attorney would complete certain tasks while charging an hourly rate. These services may include reviewing documentation, discussing and providing guidance around certain issues, and interview preparation. Meanwhile, the client would be responsible for completing applications and other documents.
In other cases, nonprofit organizations may offer free legal services or lower rates to assist with immigration cases.
Why Hire an Immigration Lawyer?
Based on the cost of hiring an attorney, individuals may wonder if it’s truly worth it. While there are plenty of resources available to immigrants online and elsewhere to help them navigate immigration cases of all types on their own, certain complexities can make the process more challenging. Additionally, attorneys can help with avoiding immigration scams that might otherwise cause harm to immigrants.
Immigration attorneys with experience in these matters can lend a degree of knowledge and experience that help with navigating all types of cases. They can also help meet deadlines that are in place for every case, and they’ll be able to maximize the chances of succeeding with a case. Ultimately, hiring an attorney can significantly reduce the risks associated with navigating a case without representation.
If cost is a concern, it’s possible to discuss the total cost of working with an attorney in an initial consultation. Even if consultation doesn’t lead the attorney to provide representation, the cost of that consultation can be worth the investment if it makes individuals aware of the options available to them and offers some guidance to point them in the right direction.
Throughout a consultation, individuals can find out how much an immigration lawyer costs before settling on an attorney. Based on the cost of the consultation, the scope of the case, the location of the attorney, and other factors, it’s possible to figure out how much legal representation will cost to help prepare before hiring an attorney. In the end, the costs of hiring an attorney are likely to be much lower than the costs of losing an immigration case without reliable representation.