I’m a problem solver, and I try to help real people solve their immigration problems so they and their families can reach a goal and find greater happiness. That is what I believe I am called to do.
Full disclosure: I am an immigration lawyer. I make my living from advising, and representing, people like you. I charge a reasonable fee for my services, because I believe they add value to my clients’ quality of life. You have a need, I try to meet that need and help you and your family to reach a goal -- citizenship, permanent residence, or other benefit under U.S. immigration law.
You should be aware that it will likely cost several thousand dollars for you to apply for an immigration benefit -- whether it is to apply for U.S. citizenship, or for permanent residence, or for a work visa or investment visa. (My minimum fee is $1,000.) When I help you apply for an immigration benefit, I charge an attorney fee, and the U.S. government charges its processing fee for the privilege of filing immigration applications with the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies.
What is a fair fee? It will depend on a variety of factors, and there is no “set” rule, or law. Ethical rules for the legal profession require that a lawyer must charge a fee which is reasonable. Speaking for myself, I refer to a schedule of fees, one that I have developed over time. I apply a reasonable discount whenever possible.
And I try to be fair, in several ways:
(1) I do not charge a fee for the initial consultation, unless you are requesting expedited service. But you must make an appointment. And there is a time limit, 30 minutes, for this free initial consultation.
(2) If you ask for a proposal, to handle your case, I will email you an offer in two days. You will know up-front how much the case will cost, because I charge a flat fee, not an hourly fee.
(3) I may charge a small, one-time administrative charge up-front, to cover incidental expenses such as photocopies, long-distance phone calls, postage and FedEx, etc. Often it is built into the attorney fees, meaning that I will pay any incidental expenses.
(4) I will give you two options for paying my fee: Up-front, at a discount, or If you prefer, over time, starting with an initial payment, a middle payment or series of payments, and then a final payment.
(5) Whatever the arrangement, I will commit it to writing in a contract. You and I will both sign it.. We prepare contracts in English and Spanish, depending on the language preference of the client.
I mentioned that I do not charge for the initial consultation. The conventional wisdom among lawyers seems to be that a lawyer should not give his or her services away, for free. I take a different approach. Rather than put a dollar value on every minute of my time, I prefer to look at the value of the consultation “experience,” in terms of offering the prospective client the opportunity to respond favorably by retaining my services, or pass on my name to someone else who may become a future client.
So, I offer 30-minute consultations at no cost. My thinking is that I am happy to offer high-quality advice to help people get oriented in the vast ocean that is U.S. immigration law, so that they have some idea of what lies ahead in their voyage to their destination. In the consultation setting, I am hoping to identify a prospective client’s goals, to understand his or her immigration history, and to identify strengths and weaknesses, and the best way to handle the case for the most realistic result. That’s a lot to put into a 30-minute consultation, so I try to be flexible and not count the minutes.
In any event, I get personal and professional satisfaction from interacting with people like you in the initial consultation. I get to know something about you, your family, your immigration history, what your dreams are -- and then I set to work to make a mental plan on how to make it all work, with a payment schedule over time to meet your family’s financial needs.