We are frequently asked, “How much does an immigration lawyer cost?” There are 2 categories of cost to think about when dealing with any immigration process – government filing fees and the cost of an immigration lawyer. Government filing fees are not optional (unless you qualify for a fee waiver. Whether you work with an attorney or file your paperwork yourself, you will incur these costs and they can be quite steep.

Thousands of people immigrate to the U.S. each year without the help of an immigration lawyer. However, many people choose to work with immigration lawyers for a variety of reasons. If you are still debating whether you should hire an immigration attorney or not, more on that in our next article.

So, how much can you expect to pay for a high quality immigration lawyer?

How much does an immigration lawyer cost?

Immigration law is federal, which means that you can live in California and work with an attorney in New York, if you are comfortable working remotely. This works for most people, unless you are dealing with issues that require frequent visits to immigration court (such as in removal/deportation cases). In those cases, it is best to work with a local attorney. You will find some geographic differences in pricing. A lawyer in California may have higher fees than one in North Carolina, simply because running a law practice in California is more expensive. However, a lawyer in California may have more exposure to the immigration issue you are facing. It is important to balance cost and experience. The most expensive option is not always the best one and cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean lower quality.

Consultation Fees

Immigration lawyers typically charge between $100 and $250 for a detailed consultation and many credit this to legal fees should you choose to hire them. Many also offer introductory calls at no cost – these are not meant to be detailed consultations, but an opportunity to share some context, get to know the lawyer and decide if you want to work with them. You’ll find many lawyers that specialize in removal / deportation cases do not charge any consultation fees at all.

Legal Fees Start to End

Legal fees vary by immigration need. Just like a dentist charges differently for a cavity versus a root canal, an immigration lawyer will have different fees for a family-based green card vs. a citizenship application.

Most immigration attorneys charge a flat fee for commonly requested services. For example, the two main components of the marriage-based green card process are filing Form I-130 and Form I-485 (if you live in the U.S.). An attorney may charge a flat fee for each stage or just price it together. The table below provides an estimate of fees for family-based green cards and citizenship applications. Keep in mind, if your application gets denied or the government issues an RFE (Request for Evidence), lawyers will charge additional fees to deal with these complications. Lawyers often charge hourly to respond to RFEs or file waivers on your behalf. Ask about these potential costs before you hire an attorney.

Government Filing Fees Immigration Lawyer Cost Total Cost
Marriage-based Green Card (from abroad) I-130: $535

DS-260: $325

I-864: $120

Medical Exam: Up to $200

Physical Green Card: $220

TOTAL: $1,400

$2000 – 3500 (Based on a survey of New York lawyers) $3400 – 4900
Marriage-based Green Card (living in the U.S.) I-130: $535

I-485: $1,140

Biometrics: $85

Medical Exam: Up to $200

TOTAL: $1,960

$2400 – 3500 $4360 – $5460
Green Card for Parent

(1 Parent, from abroad)

I-130: $535

DS-260: $325

I-864: $120

Medical Exam: Up to $200

Physical Green Card: $220

TOTAL: $1,400

$1500 – 3500 $2900 – 4900
Citizenship / Naturalization Application N-400: $640

Biometrics: $85

Total: $725

$1200 – $2500 $1925 – $3225

Is an immigration attorney worth the cost?

If you are hiring an attorney for the reasons below, then absolutely, yes.

  • Peace of mind / Efficiency – Under the current administration, forms have gotten longer, denials have increased and RFEs (requests for evidence) have shot up. Hiring an experienced attorney reduces the risk of paperwork errors, saving you time and money. If you do receive an RFE or denial for another reason, an attorney is also better equipped to respond to these situations.
  • Complex circumstances – If there are any complexities in your case (minor crimes, visa overstays, unlawful presence, etc.), an attorney may be your best shot at a positive outcome. If you are here unlawfully, an attorney can help you figure out if there is a path to legal status. If you’ve had any brush ups with the law, even if you weren’t convicted, you might be at risk for deportation. These are just a few scenarios in which the advice of an immigration lawyer is crucial.

What if I can’t afford an immigration lawyer?

If you cannot afford an immigration attorney, but really need one, you can look for a free (pro bono) attorney. To find a legal aid organization that offers free or low cost help, type in your zip code here. Since the demand for pro bono attorneys is high, it can be hard to find one that has availability. Note: If you come across a “notario” or immigration “consultant”, they are not lawyers and are not licensed to practice immigration law. Be very careful who you trust with your immigration needs.

Navigating U.S. immigration is incredibly time consuming and complex. If you need help with your immigration process, you can find pre-screened immigration lawyers with over a decade of experience on Ask Ellis. We look forward to helping you!

*The content and materials available via Ask Ellis are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice

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