What does an immigration attorney do?
Immigration lawyers help their clients through all phases of the immigration process. Experts on immigration law, they are legally qualified to represent U.S. citizens, permanent residents or undocumented immigrants. Immigration lawyers also provide assistance to visitors here on student, work or travel visas, and can represent clients who may have an expired visa or who have overstayed their visa.
You can hire an immigration lawyer to assist you with petitioning for renewing a permanent resident or green card, navigating the naturalization process, submitting an employee-based petition for a work visa, filing a petition for a family member, or representing you or a loved one who is facing detention or deportation, as well as replacing, extending or changing a current visa, green card or work permit. The immigration process is highly complex, with multiple hearings, paperwork and requirements. Hiring a legal expert to represent you can help you make your best effort in the process. When researching immigration lawyers, it is very important to verify their qualifications and find a reputable attorney. Read reviews and verify that the immigration lawyer is licensed by your state before paying any fees.
How do you find a good immigration lawyer?
Research is key to finding a good immigration lawyer. The immigration process can be overwhelming and complex, so a trustworthy advocate is critical. When you have identified several eligible candidates, verify their immigration law license to protect yourself and your finances. Once you have a set of licensed immigration lawyers in mind, choose one based on these considerations:
- Mutual respect: You want an immigration lawyer who treats you and your family with kindness and consideration. You’ll do the same for them.
- Availability: Before hiring, note if they have responded promptly to your emails and calls. You don’t want to hire someone you have to chase around.
- Proven success: Read former client reviews and research their success rate with cases similar to yours.
- Transparent rates: Ask directly about what their rates are, how they bill, and what they estimate your legal fees will be. Ask if they will sign a fee agreement, and get receipts for all fees paid.
- Verify who will handle your case: Sometimes junior lawyers work on firm cases. This is okay, as long as you have discussed it and are comfortable with it. When junior lawyers or paralegals are working on your case, ask if the hourly rate is lower.
- Be wary of anyone who promises you specific results: No case is certain, and the immigration lawyer should be honest about what you can expect.
For more, check out our tips for smart hiring on Thumbtack.
How much does an immigration lawyer cost?
Immigration lawyers are experts in the nuances of the highly complex United States immigration system. They help clients of all backgrounds petition for immigration status and become U.S. citizens, and can represent clients who are facing deportation or detention. Nationally, the cost people pay for immigration lawyers averages $500-$1,010. The services you need will have a huge effect on your costs. For routines cases, such as applying for a travel visa, an immigration lawyer may be able to confidently quote you a set price, while more open-ended cases may be billed at an hourly rate of $200-$500, or more, depending on the reputation and experience of the firm and lawyer. Before hiring an immigration lawyer, ask what their plan for your case is and what expected costs may be. Many immigration lawyers work from retainers, and request a set amount of money upfront from which to work. For example, a lawyer who charges $300 per hour may estimate $4,000 for a standard family-based immigration case, the common process in which a U.S. citizen petitions for permanent residency for their spouse, fiancee or family members.