The cost of an immigration lawyer varies quite a bit depending on a number of factors, so this question cannot be answered with one simple number. An immigration lawyer may charge a flat fee to file a certain petition or application, plus the fee that has to be paid to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to file the petition or application and any other costs. Depending on the kind of petition or application, it might cost anywhere from $500 to $5000.

What Factors are Used in Calculating Immigration Attorney Fees?

As with any lawyer in any of the numerous areas of legal practice, the cost of an immigration lawyer varies depending on a number of factors. The factors that have the the most impact on immigration lawyers’ fees are the following:

  • The location in which the lawyer practices: lawyers in large cities or the suburbs of a large metropolitan area will have higher fees than lawyers in smaller cities and towns;
  • The nature of the project on which the lawyer works: if the project is something more or less routine, such as completing and filing an application for an H-1B visa or renewal of an H1-B visa, and the applicant’s situation does not present any unique circumstances, an attorney might charge a flat fee. A flat fee is a total price for a defined service. On the other hand, if the project is more complex and involves a unique situation, the lawyer may charge by the hour for representation.
  • Hourly fees can range from a low of $150 to as much as $600 or $700 an hour. If the lawyer charges an hourly fee, the lawyer keeps careful track of the time spent on the case and charges for the actual time spent at the hourly rate;
  • The services the lawyer is hired to provide: if the service is limited to preparing and filing an application, e.g. for a non-immigrant visa for a spouse or permanent residence after 5 years of living in the U.S. as a conditional permanent resident, again, the lawyer will probably charge a flat fee. If other services are required, e.g. representation at a hearing that would require hours of preparation, then the lawyer might charge an hourly fee;
  • The experience and expertise of the lawyer: lawyers who have more years of experience with certain legal issues or who have special expertise will be able to charge higher fees than those who are less experienced.

What Other Costs are Associated with Immigration Law Attorneys?

Usually the USCIS or courts charge a fee for the filing of an application or petition. Filing fees can cost from $500 to more than $1000 dollars. For example, the filing fee for a petition for an alien relative is now $535. Of course the person who is seeking the visa or change of status is responsible for paying this fee. An immigration lawyer will charge the client for the filing fee in addition to the flat fee for the lawyer’s service in completing and submitting the form.

If a person’s case becomes complicated and requires a hearing or a trial, the lawyer will charge an additional fee, and it may be an hourly fee.

What Do Immigration Lawyers Do?

Immigration lawyers provide legal services involved in all phases of immigration law. They can represent immigrants who cross at the southern border of the U.S. and request asylum. They can represent companies seeking H1-B visas so they can hire foreign workers to fulfill their need for qualified workers who are not available in the U.S.

Immigration lawyers can seek F2 visas for spouses of legal immigrants who would like their spouses to live with them while they are temporarily in the U.S. studying or working.

Immigration lawyers can represent immigrant residents who have been detained at bond hearings seeking their release from detention. Or they can represent immigrant residents at deportation hearings.

Immigration lawyers can represent immigrant residents whose petitions or applications have been denied on appeal to higher courts. Whatever type of visa or change of status an immigrant resident seeks, an immigration lawyer can represent them and provide the service they require.

What are the Advantages of Hiring an Immigration Lawyer?

The advantage of hiring an immigration lawyer is that a person will have a representative who is experienced at providing the service the person needs and is familiar with the process involved in seeking a visa, change of status, or relief from deportation.

Most visas or changes in status start with the filing of an application or petition. An experienced immigration lawyer is going to be familiar with the necessary forms, where and how to file them, how much it costs to file and how long the applicant or petitioner may have to wait for an answer.

Many applications require that other documents be submitted with the application or petition. Or the form may require the signatures of more than one person. There are numerous technicalities; what seems like a simple form can become quite complicated. An experienced immigration lawyer understands all the technicalities.

One important factor in immigration cases is deadlines, for example, if a petition is denied, the applicant has a limited amount of time in which to file an appeal. In addition, a person has only one chance to appeal, so it is critical that it be done correctly and within the time limit. Rights can be lost because a person fails to meet a critical deadline.

Or, for example, a conditional permanent resident receives permission to live and work in the U.S. that is valid for two years. To remove the conditions on this permanent resident status, a person must file a petition within the 90-day period before the conditional permanent resident authorization expires.

If a person fails to file the required petition within the timeframe specified by law, the person can have a problem changing their status from conditional to permanent without conditions, and they become subject to deportation. Obviously, this is the type of problem a person wants to avoid. An experienced immigration lawyer is informed about deadlines and can assure that they are not missed.

If a person has to appear at a hearing in connection with their case, an experienced immigration lawyer knows how to prepare, what to do and how best to present a person’s case. A person may not have the time to fill out lengthy forms and figure out how to file them and how to deal with the USCIS. So it makes sense to hire a lawyer to do it.

Just contacting the USCIS by telephone can be an ordeal for an average person who tries to call and get a question answered. An immigration lawyer will have the means to contact people inside the USCIS easily and get questions answered promptly without spending hours on hold.

Do I Need to Hire an Immigration Lawyer?

Immigration laws and policies in the U.S. are constantly changing. An experienced immigration lawyer is a professional who has to stay abreast of changing laws, policies and procedures. You are most likely to get the best possible outcome in your case if you have an experienced immigration lawyer representing your interests.