No matter what your legal status, an immigration lawyer helps you navigate the complicated maze of paperwork, applications and court appointments that make up the U.S. citizenship and immigration process. Immigration attorneys focus on the nuances of immigration law to aid you in your process. An immigration attorney can assist U.S. citizens, permanent residents and undocumented immigrants, and can help with student visas, work visas and travel visas, including expired or overstayed visas.
Common requests for immigration attorneys include permanent resident or green card petition, naturalization (the process of becoming a citizen), employee-based petition (work visa), filing petition for family, help dealing with detention or deportation, and replacement, extension or change to a current visa, green card or work permit. The most common requests Pegah Rahgozar of Rahgozar Law Firm PLLC in Houston, Texas, receives are family-based immigration cases such as individuals married to a U.S. citizen who need help filing for a green card. The second most common request at Rahgozar Law Firm PLLC is for help with removal and deportation proceedings.
Cost of legal assistance
Prices vary based on the nature and complexity of a case, explains Pegah of Rahgozar Law Firm PLLC. Many factors determine what applications or filing an attorney or firm will need to handle and the number of hours an immigration case can take. Often immigration lawyers will evaluate the complexity of the case and the type of work that will be required before quoting a price. Other factors that can affect the cost of legal assistance are the background and experience of the lawyer or firm, the firm’s reputation, and geographic location.
Do your research when hiring an attorney for your immigration case, Pegah of Rahgozar Law Firm PLLC recommends. Immigration laws are complex, and immigration cases can be emotionally and financially draining if you don't have the right advocate by your side. Research the attorney’s background and reputation, the cases they've handled, and their success rates — especially for complex cases. The number of years an attorney has been in practice is not indicative of their results when handling immigration cases, says Pegah.
In family-based immigration, a U.S. citizen petitions for permanent residence (a green card) on behalf of a spouse, a fiancee or other family members. Cases can take years to complete; once the application process is complete, there is a significant waiting period for visas for spouses, parents and unmarried children under 21. The number of visas available for siblings, children over 21, or married children under 21 is even more limited, and the wait can take from 10 to 20 years. An immigration attorney can help prevent delays and minimize wait time by helping you track your priority date and ensuring all your paperwork, court appointments and requirements are met. The cost of family-based immigration is generally easier to predict than other immigration cases.
For many family-based cases, such as marriage-based immigration cases, Rahgozar Law Firm PLLC estimates legal costs typically add up to approximately $4,000.
- Unusual or complex issues can increase the cost for these cases.
In some immigration cases, explains Pegah of Rahgozar Law Firm PLLC, additional issues can arise after the immigration attorney has begun work, which may require additional costs based on an hourly rate. The attorney will explain to clients in advance what kinds of complications might need to be addressed separately (such as paperwork, family member status, and other variables) and charged at an hourly rate.
- Hourly rate from Rahgozar Law Firm PLLC: $300 per hour.
Attorney costs for standard cases such as family-based immigration can be estimated with assurance, but the costs for other kinds of immigration cases can vary widely. Although the total cost of these cases to the clients is confidential, here are two examples of the services that immigration lawyers provide.
Case 1: Family-based immigration
An unscrupulous lawyer had taken advantage of a husband seeking immigration aid and left his case pending for 7 years without doing any real work on it. In 2015, the couple began to work with Rahgozar Law Firm PLLC. After 1.5 years of putting together evidence and legal briefs, and communicating with the government on requests for the client’s case, Pegah of Rahgozar Law Firm PLLC successfully prepared the client and sent him to his home country to attend an interview at the consulate. After a two-week stay, the client obtained his immigrant visa and re-entered the U.S. to receive his green card and legally rejoin his wife and their three children. His next step is application for citizenship.
Case 2: Adoption immigration
Two U.S. citizens hired Rahgozar Law Firm PLLC to help them with a complex and emotionally taxing immigration adoption case. The legal process took 2.5 years, due to numerous requests from the government to show the legitimacy of the adoption. The couple also received a notice of intent to deny, which the legal team overcame with countless hours of legal research, writing and responses to the government. The family is now together; the child has been granted a green card and is in the process of obtaining citizenship.