Immigration Lawyer FAQs

  • What do immigration lawyers do?

    Immigration lawyers help individuals and businesses communicate with authorities, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Immigration lawyers assist foreign nationals who are living or working in the United States or want to enter the country legally. They provide legal advice, prepare visa and green card applications, and represent clients in administrative hearings and immigration courts. They also represent individuals who are facing legal challenges such as detention or deportation.

  • How much does an immigration lawyer cost?

    Immigration attorney fees vary significantly based on the specific services a client needs, the attorney’s experience, and the geographic region. Lawyers in this field usually charge between $150 to $350 per hour, plus fees for filing various kinds of paperwork. Services such as form filing, green card applications, and naturalization applications can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars including attorney fees and filing fees. For employment-related visas or green cards, the employer may be responsible for a portion of that cost. The cost of more complex situations such as asylum applications and deportation defense can range from $1,000 to nearly $10,000.

  • Do immigration lawyers go to court?

    Yes, while immigration attorneys typically represent clients during administrative proceedings overseen by the U.S. Department of Justice, they can present cases in federal courts at all levels. They also handle circuit court and Supreme Court complaints after cases have been reviewed by the Board of Immigration Appeals—the highest administrative body within the immigration system.

  • Is hiring an immigration lawyer worth it?

    Hiring an immigration attorney is generally a smart decision. Effective legal representation can save time, prevent costly mistakes, and help clients navigate complicated filing processes and deadlines. Lawyers can provide accurate, personalized advice consistent with current regulations. They can prepare effective applications and help clients  avoid application rejections or requests for additional information. Immigration attorneys help clients prepare for interviews, apply for waivers, and overcome various legal barriers. Immigration laws are notoriously complex and subject to change, and government agencies are favoring detention and deportation increasingly, which can make self representation risky.

  • What questions should I ask an immigration lawyer?

    Initial meetings give prospective clients an opportunity to screen immigration attorneys and determine if an attorney can meet their needs. You should assess the lawyer’s level of experience as well as their history handling similar cases. Here are some useful questions to ask:

    • How can you help with my case?
    • What’s the best strategy in this case?
    • Can you check my immigration status?
    • How much will these services cost?
    • What is the best way to reach my immigration case manager?
    • What happens if I am unable to pay?
    • What is the next step?
  • Can a lawyer help immigrant children who have been separated from their parents?

    Yes, immigration attorneys can petition Immigration and Customs Enforcement to release detainees and reunite children with their parents. In recent years, officials have separated thousands of migrant and asylum-seeking children from their parents, especially at border crossings. Attorneys affiliated with the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the American Immigration Council are actively fighting government policies through the Immigration Justice Campaign. In some cases, pro bono legal services are available to families who have been affected by parent-children separation.

  • How can someone legally immigrate to the United States?

    Generally speaking, individuals who are visiting the United States for more than 90 days or are arriving from a non-waiver country must apply for a visa or green card. Visas enable individuals to remain in the United States temporarily for specific activities, such as studying, working, or traveling. Foreign nationals, including relatives of permanent residents and citizens, who wish to live in the United States permanently, must apply for a green card. Usually, travelers must secure documents at a foreign consulate before traveling to the United States. An immigration attorney can provide specific advice regarding different types of visas and eligibility categories, as well as updates on immigration policy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • When do you need an immigration lawyer?

    In many cases, individuals can secure a visa or green card without a lawyer’s assistance. However, there are instances where legal representation is valuable. Businesses that would like to sponsor foreign workers should generally consult an immigration attorney to ensure that they’re complying with all employment laws. Individuals may need help from an attorney when facing bureaucratic delays, burdensome paperwork, deportation proceedings, or challenges related to previous violations or financial instability. Lawyers can step in any time that the process becomes too complex for an individual to handle independently.

  • Are illegal immigrants eligible for federal assistance?

    No. Individuals must be legal immigrants to apply for federal welfare benefits such as Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid, food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and affordable health insurance. Eligibility depends on the immigrant’s status. For example, refugees are generally eligible for benefits, while other legal immigrants must be long-term residents with at least 10 years of work history. An attorney can provide more information and assist with the application process.

  • Can I switch immigration lawyers during proceedings?

    Yes, it’s possible to change representation during an immigration case, especially if the attorney is inefficient or uncommunicative. However, immigration is a slow process, and your immigration attorney may not be responsible for the delays. Regardless of the reason for switching, it’s essential to notify U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to ensure that communications are forwarded to the correct representative. Individuals are also encouraged to report scams.

  • Do I need an immigration lawyer to get a green card?

    Legal representation isn’t required to apply for a green card, but it’s helpful in many cases. The application process can be complicated, and you may fall into more than one eligibility category. Lawyers can determine which option will be the fastest, easiest, or cheapest. They can also help if you are facing challenges due to a criminal record or previous immigration violations.

  • What can an immigration lawyer do for me?

    An attorney is a vital ally for immigrants who are starting a new life in the United States. These professionals can provide personalized advice, explain potential options, and help you choose the best course of action. In addition to guiding clients through the complex process of applying for a visa or green card, they help immigrants understand relevant rules and regulations, find employment opportunities, and proceed on the path toward achieving long-term goals, such as citizenship. Most importantly, qualified immigration attorneys can help clients avoid costly mistakes that may result in delays or denials.

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