Immigration Lawyer Fees – What Should You Be Paying?

One of the first questions we often get asked after someone contacts our firm is: how much is this going to cost? There is a lot of confusion out there about what someone should pay for immigration lawyer fees. This is because there is such a huge variation in prices. Immigrants are faced with everything from bargain basement do-it-all-law firms, to this article in the The New Jersey Law Journal quoting:

“As recently as five years ago, law partners charging $1,000 an hour were outliers. Today, four-figure hourly rates for in-demand partners at the most prestigious firms don’t raise eyebrows — and a few top earners are closing in on $2,000 an hour.”

It’s hard to know what to pay when reputable law journals are quoting enormous amounts per hour, and a street corner lawyer is saying he/she can get you a green card on the cheap.

So what should you be paying for your Immigration Lawyer Fees?

Simple. Immigrants should not be paying $2000 an hour. As has been pointed out (by yours truly) in other blog posts, immigration lawyer fees are usually flat fees, not hourlies, so you can budget accordingly. What are you paying for? Immigration lawyers have to be up-to-date on every change in the immigration process. The fees should be based on hard work, care for the client, and the lawyers’ experience in getting visas and green cards, helping family or employees come into the country, stopping deportation processes, waivers, appeals, motions, citizenship and more.

A good Immigration Lawyer will spend years at school, and then decades in practice learning every little regulation that can make the difference between being undocumented and being free to live and work in the US.

Why isn’t my first consultation free?

A consultation fee with an immigration lawyer can be as much as $400, or even more.

OUR FIRM TYPICALLY CHARGES $125 for in office 30 minute meetings, initially.

Why don’t the better immigration lawyers generally offer free first consultations?

The fact is that we are dedicating our time to that meeting – lawyer and potential client for proper case analysis. It’s not a “free”consultation with a legal assistant who gives you 5 minutes before saying Yes or No to whether you can pay their fees.

How much can immigration lawyers fees cost?

The cost of freedom can vary greatly depending on each case.  AND if you need to appeal your case this will add costs to that amount. Immigration lawyers may have to negotiate on your behalf, go to bond hearings, go with you to court, file applications for relief from removal and more. It really all depends on your particular case, and the best way to know is to find a good immigration lawyer and ask.

Still, many people are looking for bargains when they “shop” for a lawyer.

Please do not look for a “deal” when it comes to your life . . . or your loved one’s life

Yes, I know that you are sometimes working with a budget, but your immigration lawyer fees are not a good place to try to save money. What you really want to find is the best immigration lawyer you can, with a proven track record, strong team, decades of experience, and thorough knowledge of Immigration Law in particular.

Let me repeat what I have said at least 20,000 times in 20 years and written often:

        “Shopping around” for an immigration attorney is not best.

Immigration lawyer fees are, quite frankly, often one of the least expensive costs incurred by folks seeking legal services.

Beware when you pay the same “price” (to quote certain callers to our firm) for deportation defense in United States Immigration Court as you would for an appearance on a moving violation before your local Municipal Judge. What you gain in your wallet, you are likely to lose in court.

These people are frequently the same immigrants who end up in our office when it’s too late.

Do not let it happen to you.


If you have any questions about this or any other immigration related topics please do not hesitate to contact me.


Written by: Harlan York

Immigration Attorney Harlan York is Former Chair, Immigration Section, NJ State Bar Association and Former Co-Chair, NY State Bar Association CFLS Immigration Committee. Mr. York appeared on National Television on CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose and Primer Impacto on Univision, as well as Telemundo, NBC, and PBS. He was honored as First Ever Immigration Lawyer of The Year in NJ by Best Lawyers.

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