Why Hire An Attorney?

Photo of a green cardSome people wonder why someone should afford and hire attorneys to fill out forms.  Well, representing immigrants and their families is a bit more involved.  An experienced attorney is aware of how the U.S.C.I.S.  works.  The answers may create complications.  We know the law as if it is our favorite novel.  We are ‘required by law’ to keep a client’s situation confidential through the attorney-client privilege, even if they take no further action.

An attorney should provide both candid and neutral advice in a private setting. A competent lawyer should act as a representative with confidence, knowledge, experience and resources.  We should make a difference.  Counselors keep a client focused upon the goal of eventually obtaining a nonimmigrant or immigrant visa.  Family members, ministers and charity workers do not intend to hurt applicants, but some may do so, accidentally.  A legal mistake can permanently effect an intending immigrant’s civil rights and may even result in deportation!

The effort spent is within the control of both the attorney as well as the client. Clients need to provide required documentation to support an application.  The amount paid should be directly related to the time ‘actually spent’ on the case by the attorney.  At times, either an attorney and their clients may be unable to afford each other.  This conflict can be based upon how the attorney wants to do his work.  The amount of time spent may also be based both upon an attorney’s expenses, current demand and experience.

It can cost from $10,000 to $15,000 a month for office expenses, not take home pay, for the sole immigration practitioner. An attorney who uses office space only for appointments, spends minimal time with clients, and inconsistently returns calls or email may charge less.  However, there is a limit for a good practice to run unless the office is subsidized by others.

Sometimes, immigration attorneys overlook the fact that administrative actions can be inconsistent and beyond their control.  This can create a conflicts with clients, when a strong attorney client relationship is missing.  Immigration clients have to appropriately value an attorney’s time in order for the relationship to work.  Too often, work stops or is arguably left in limbo waiting for the U.S.C.I.S. to complete its responsibilities.

The U.S.C.I.S. suffers from Congressional over-legislation and under budgeting. In this environment, government examiners are often taken advantage of in the process.  The fact is that not enough staff is available to timely complete the work. Regulations cannot be created quick enough to interpret more restrictive laws.  Training is often unavailable soon enough for quick decisions in the now more complicated deportation and family based cases. Sometimes, clients forget or refuse to disclose incidents that can affect a U.S.C.I.S. decision.

There are no average times for  a standard case, just USCIS estimates. Each immigration application depends upon the facts and evidence. Some files are misplaced, some facts confusing, and some names remain in name check review. I look forward to uncomplicated cases.

A candid attorney should always explain exceptions to any flat fee agreement.  If so, is that really a flat fee?  You be the judge!  Instead, our office works with an intended fee, but includes a “fee ceilings” that may never be reached.  This is meant to eliminate the fear of spiraling legal fees.  I hope that this explains the questions about “how much” that callers  have about legal fees.  I charge for an appointment, but may only charge an appointment fee.  Our plans result in higher success rates when you work with us and appreciate experienced advice on the process.

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