I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.See all posts Frank Gogol
How Much Does an Immigration Lawyer Cost?
You’ve decided to start the immigration process. You now face the mountain of paperwork, questions, and procedures of an immigration application. Is there someone who can help explain what you should do and help you avoid common pitfalls?
Yes, there is. This is where an immigration lawyer comes in. But how much does an immigration lawyer cost?
We’ll explain the different factors that influence immigration lawyer costs and how much you can expect to pay, below.
What is an Immigration Lawyer?
Immigration cases are complex. There are layers of complicated rules, laws, and regulations you need to navigate to get a successful outcome. Some cases are simple and don’t need special assistance. In most cases, however, it is safest to have someone who is specialized, has a lot of knowledge, and knows what they are doing to assist you with your case. This is where an immigration lawyer comes in.
Immigration lawyers specialize in immigration law and know all the tricks of the trade to help get you a successful outcome.
How Much Do Immigration Lawyers Charge?
Each lawyer has their own costing structure and method. Before you engage an immigration lawyer, it is best to first do a consultation to see whether you feel comfortable with them and how much they charge.
Some immigration lawyers offer a free initial consultation, while others will only charge you for the first consultation if you don’t engage their services afterward. Some lawyers charge you for both.
Before you go to an attorney, be prepared to pay a reasonable consultation fee. Just don’t sign any contracts to engage their services until you are comfortable with your choice. Usually, this means consulting with at least two or three attorneys before engaging their services.
Initial consultation fees range anything from $100 to $400. At the first consultation, you can enquire about their fee structure and how much they will charge you for your specific case. It is definitely a good idea to compare the prices charged by different immigration attorneys to make sure you get the best deal without compromising on the quality of service you will get.
Although you can expect an hourly rate of between $150 to $300 for immigration lawyers, the cost structure immigration lawyers work on differ. Some charge an hourly fee, and some charge a flat fee for specific applications.
The exact price an immigration lawyer will charge you after your initial consultation will depend on a wide range of factors which we will explore below.
Who Needs an Immigration Lawyer?
There are a lot of resources and information on immigration available online. So, it might seem unnecessary to pay a high price for an immigration lawyer when all these resources are free. The reality is, however, the immigration process is complex, and there is usually a lot at stake. You risk being separated from loved ones or possibly even being deported. If your case isn’t just a simple, straightforward application, it could be in your best interest to get an immigration lawyer.
You can read more here about whether an immigration lawyer is worth the cost.
What Are the Different Cost Factors for an Immigration Lawyer?
There is a whole host of factors that will influence the cost of an immigration lawyer. Generally, however, the following factors will affect the price you are charged:
- The application you will be making – immigration lawyers charge different fees for different applications as each application has a different complexity or amount of work. So, whether you’re applying for a green card or an L1 visa, for example, will make a difference to what you are charged.
- What you need them to do for you – the type of work you will require them to do will influence the fees they charge you. Will they simply assist you in filing the forms correctly and efficiently? Or, will they assist you in court with a deportation charge?
- Their level of experience – often immigration lawyers with more experience charge higher fees, although it isn’t always the case. Make sure you weigh the fees charged with their level of experience. You want to get a good lawyer, but you don’t want to pay an unnecessary premium.
- Where they are located – as with many other things, the location has an influence on the cost of immigration lawyers. Generally, immigration lawyers in big cities like New York or San Francisco charge more than immigration lawyers in small towns. Immigration lawyers in some states also tend to charge more than in other states.
What Are the Average Costs for an Immigration Lawyer?
As we’ve explained above, there is a whole range of factors that will influence the actual cost of an immigration lawyer. What we can do, however, is look at what the average costs are for different types of visas.
Below are the average immigration lawyer fees you can expect. Remember, these fees do not include the USCIS filing fees, only the immigration lawyer fees.
You can find more info on USCIS filing fees here.
Cost for Work Visas
You can expect to pay the following average immigration lawyer fees for the following work visas:
- H1B Visa – $1,195 to $1,495
- H4 visa – $200 to $400
- H1B1 visa – $995
- J1 visa waiver – $995
- L1 visa – $2,500
- E3 visa – $500
- TN visa – $500.
Cost for Visitor Visas
If you plan to visit the United States on a B-visa, or you need to renew, extend, or change your B1 or B2 visa, you can expect to pay the following average lawyer fees:
- B1 visa – $400
- B1 or B2 visa renewal, extension or change of status application – $400.
Cost for Spouse and Fiancé Visas
The following average attorney fees apply to fiancé or spouse visas:
- K1 visa (filed for the fiancé of a U.S. citizen) – $750 to $2000
- CR-1 petition (filed for the spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident) – $795
Keep in mind these fees don’t include the adjustment of status application, which follows afterward.
Cost for Green Cards
Green card lawyer fees generally average at the following:
- Marriage based green card – $800 to $4000
- If you are a sibling of a U.S. citizen – $795
- If you are a parent of a U.S. citizen – $795
- Employer-Sponsored Labor Certification with PERM (Program Electronic Review Management) – $2000
- Multinational Executives and Managers & L-1A Visa Holders – $2500
- Outstanding Professors or Researchers – $1500
- Registered Nurses – $1400
- Physical Therapists – $1400
- I-140 based adjustment of status – $825
- National Interest Waiver – $2900
- AC-21 Portability for Pending I-485 Petitions – $395
- EB1 Extraordinary Ability – $2900.
Cost for U.S. Citizenship
If you need an immigration attorney to assist you with your N-400, Application for Naturalization, you can expect to pay an average fee of $500.
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Now you no longer have to wonder how much does an immigration lawyer cost. These legal fees can seem very expensive. But it may save you time and money in the long run. It could also be the difference between a successful application and a possible denial (or worse – deportation!). So, weigh up your options carefully, compare the different fees, and decide what would ultimately be best for your future.