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Frequently Asked Questions

frequently-asked-immigration-questions

During regular times, it’s tough enough to be facing immigration worries. Add in a sudden global pandemic. Now you have far more concerns to think about. You have been told to keep your social distance as much as possible. You have been warned to work remotely with businesses, schools, and companies.

So now that you decided to go forward with your immigration case, you still have questions about how best to move ahead. You likely have questions about if you need a lawyer, or if you can handle it on your own, or with the help of low-cost companies which advertise on the internet.  You probably also would like to know how much hiring an attorney will cost, and what types of services are provided, as well as how cases are handled in this age of remote distancing.

To help you out, we have put together this list of Frequently Asked Questions that shares answers to the top questions clients often want to know about when they reach out to us.

    • 1. How Is Your Office Handling Cases During The COVID-19 Crisis?
    • 2. How Does Your Remote And Online Immigration Services Work?
    • 3. Do I Really Need To Hire An Attorney?
    • 4. Can I Wait To Get Started?
    • 5. How Are Your Online Services Different Than Those Lower Cost Online Immigration Providers I’ve Seen Advertised?
    • 6. Do You Charge For A Consultation?
    • 7. Can You Guarantee That I Will Win My Case?
    • 8. What Experiences Do You Have Handling Cases Like Mine?
    • 9. What Happens If You Cannot Help Me?
    • 10. Do You Have A Lower-Priced Service? What If I Cannot Afford You?

How Is Your Office Handling Cases During The COVID-19 Crisis?

We have limited our in-office meetings to appointments scheduled in advance.  We are following social distancing recommendations and mask restrictions for both employees and visitors.  All staff members adhere to cleaning and disinfection guidelines, including regular cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas, client files, office tables, desks, chairs, and all office equipment.

Our services to clients have continued with minimal interruption.  We were fortunate that long before the COVID-19 pandemic began, we provided online and remote immigration services for individuals living in cities, states, and countries far away from our offices.

You never have to choose between working with us in a traditional manner versus in a remote, internet-based format.  We offer the best of two worlds.  We use client-friendly technology to service your needs.  Yet, the personal touch of our entire staff is always available to help.

For those who prefer to meet in-person, we have physical offices to meet face-to-face in various cities throughout Southern California. For now, meetings are set up in advance, enabling us to adhere to safe distancing protocols.

How Does Your Remote And Online Immigration Services Work?

Our online services deliver all the benefits of regular immigration services, while leveraging easy-to-use technology. Our goal is to make immigration cases as stress-free and efficient as possible.

You probably already use technology in your everyday life to make things easier. You make telephone calls and send text messages, write and respond to e-mails, pay bills, and surf the web from just about anywhere in the world.

In constructing our system, we wanted to create one that allows clients with the same ease of use and flexibility.

Our remote system has benefitted from several years of technological improvement.  We designed our online services two decades ago, during the early days of the internet, to help our clients living in countries across the globe.

Since then technology has continued to get better, as has our ability to help our clients on a virtual basis.

Every client is given access to our complete suite of remote services. These include video-conferencing for two or more persons, private file and email portals accessible only to our clients and staff, and messaging set-ups that utilize modernized communication programs to ensure our office is promptly notified.

For more information about our remote and online services, see here: Immigration Virtual Law Office

Do I Really Need To Hire An Attorney?

This is a hard question to answer. The answer is maybe, maybe not. It depends on the facts of your case and your understanding of the immigration system. You should think carefully about possible issues you might face on the road to permanent residency or citizenship.

Sometimes, potential problems that seem small to clients are far more serious to government officials.

If you know enough about immigration law to defend yourself and avoid mistakes, you may not need to hire a lawyer.

Since losing can mean being deported from the U.S. and separation from your spouse and family, helping yourself is not a risk you should take lightly.  Be honest with yourself about your abilities and knowledge when you decide to hire someone or not.

In many ways, hiring a lawyer is similar to hiring any other service provider.

  • Why do you take your car to an auto mechanic? Because you do not know how to fix the problem with your car and you need your car to go to work or school.
  • Why do you go to a hair cut salon? Because you want your hair to be styled a certain way and you cannot reach that goal on your own.
  • Why do you seek the help of a heart surgeon? Because you are facing a major life or death situation. You need an expert to keep your heart beating.

These situations are like going to an immigration lawyer. You may be facing deportation or you might just want to legalize your status, so you can live freely in the United States.  But you are not capable of representing yourself.

In other words, if you cannot handle your case on your own, and the outcome of your case is important to you, you probably need an immigration lawyer.

Here is a short video discussing When Do Immigrants Need To Hire A Lawyer?

Can I Wait To Get Started?

Sure. Unless you have summoned to immigration court, it is always your choice to proceed with your case or not.

But should you wait?  That’s an entirely different question.  The answer depends on your circumstances.

On the one hand, if you have not started paperwork to immigrate your spouse, you can wait to move forward forward. Sometimes this might be a wise choice.  For instance, there could be certain rules that can help your husband or wife if they have lived in the U.S. for a longer period. Or perhaps immigration requirements are not as friendly today as they will be in the future when new laws are scheduled to go into effect.

On the other hand, if your husband or wife has been taken into custody by immigration officers, you probably should not wait.  Delay can lead to a disaster.

Yet, even if your spouse has not been apprehended, you should not overlook the potential for future problems.  Here is a possibility that might arise unexpectedly.

Let’s say you could file to sponsor your spouse right now, but you choose to delay. A few years later, he is arrested for an alleged crime. The officer contacts immigration agents, and he is taken into custody. When he has to appear at immigration court without lawful status, his case is often harder to win than if you had already filed on his behalf years beforehand.

How Are Your Online Services Different Than Those Lower Cost Online Immigration Providers I’ve Seen Advertised?

To begin, we offer the best of two worlds.  Even though we provide online services using client-friendly technology, our support and assistance does not end there.  You have the personal guidance of our staff available to you, just a phone call or e-mail away.

In short, we are not a “Do It Yourself” service.  We are a complete one-stop immigration center that handles all types of cases, no matter how complicated.  You get the benefit of my 20+ years experience in a wide variety of matters, for clients in well over 100 different countries.

Most online service providers focus on filling out forms.  They usually require you to go to a website where you input anwers to a handful of questions, from which an application is generated. In most instances, you are simply asked the same questions that the official government forms ask.  Because you answer pre-programmed questions, there is little to no exploration of your entire immigration history.

Since no trained immigration professionals are involved – or are only minimally involved – you are left on your own to identify and assess hidden and less-obvious issues that may affect your ability to win the benefits you seek.  This means potential trouble spots in your case, which should be discussed and ironed out before you file your first set of paperwork, are ignored.  You risk costly mistakes with far-reaching consequences.

Our hands-on online services are vastly different.  With our virtual online program, we do not simply send you to a website and leave you to figure out your issues on your own with no help or guidance.  We are there every step of the way, from start to finish.

We identify possible problems at the start.  We reply to any government inquiries on your behalf.  We prepare you to put your best foot forward at your interview or hearing.  These services are provided in addition to preparing your applications and organizing supporting evidence as thorougly as possible.

You will work directly with me and my staff.  Every aspect of your case is double-checked and triple-checked.  We do our best to ensure you understand why certain documents are filed and why certain questions are asked in a comprehensive and professional manner.

The only thing that is different from our traditional in-person services is the format used to conduct our interactions and client sessions.

And to re-emphasize an important point, you never have to choose between working with us in a traditional manner versus in a remote, internet-based format.  We still have brick-and-mortar offices to meet face-to-face with you in various cities throughout the Southern California region.  For now, these meetings are scheduled in advance, which allows us to adhere to safe distancing, mask, and disinfection guidelines.

Do You Charge For A Consultation?

I charge $80.00 for an initial consultation. Here’s why.

I believe winning requires providing you with the best possible analysis from the beginning of our relationship. Many clients call my office with questions like, “What will you charge to help my husband get a green card?” Or “How much will it cost to fight my father’s case at immigration court?” I cannot answer such questions with integrity until after we meet for a full and comprehensive consultation.

When you first call, the reality is that I do not know anything about what it will take to win.

Because no two cases are exactly alike, it’s unfair to your family and it’s unfair to my office to base fees on guessing. Consider taking your car in for repairs or visiting a dentist. The auto mechanic will usually run a few tests to figure out why your car is running raggedy. The dentist takes x-rays to find out the source of your pain.

Similarly, I need to sit down with you (via video, by telephone, or in-person) to learn more about your immigration history and personal circumstances.  This enables me to give you honest and genuine advice about what can help and what can hurt your efforts to win or maintain lawful immigration status in the United States.

To learn more about the importance of initial interviews, click here: How Much Do You Charge For Immigration Services?

Can You Guarantee That I Will Win My Case?

No, I cannot guarantee you will win your case. But I will tell you this. I refuse to take a cookie-cutter approach to your case.

At our first meeting, I will dive into the ins and outs of your situation, and provide you with my opinion about the obstacles you might have to face. I will explain potential courses of action.

When it comes to deciding what steps to take, you and I will reach that conclusion together. I cannot guarantee the final result. I will not make false promises.

If I cannot help you, I will let you know right at the start. Once I accept your case, it’s based on my belief that I can make a positive difference in helping you and your family reach your immigration goals.

What Experiences Do You Have Handling Cases Like Mine?

Without a personalized consultation, I cannot answer this question. Moreover, because no two cases are exactly alike, your case is different in some aspects than any other case that I have ever handled. Some cases may be 70%, maybe 80% similar to other cases, but your case has unique facts specific only to you and your family. That’s why taking cookie-cutter approaches to immigration law are wrong.

Even small differences between two cases, although they may seem insignificant, can lead to vastly different outcomes. But as an attorney who has practiced immigration law for over 20 years and helped immigrants from almost 100 countries, I’ve been fortunate to handle a wide range of legal challenges involving immigrant visas, permanent residency, citizenship, and deportation issues.

Coupled with my training at Harvard Law School, I’ve learned good lawyering requires not only perseverance but also purposefulness, not only compassion but also commitment.

Based on these experiences, even though I have not handled a case exactly like yours, I am confident if I can perceive legal options to win your case, I can structure solutions to improve your chances for immigration success.

If you’re looking for answers to case-specific questions, check out our Immigration Case Questions And Answers Section.

What Happens If You Cannot Help Me?

To help you, I need to know as much as possible about your immigration case. This is why I always recommend an initial interview. I need to know your dreams, goals, issues, and obstacles. And, as I noted above, if I cannot help you, I will you let you know as soon as I know.

Usually, I will know by our first get-together, in person, over the telephone, or via video, if I can help you or not. But sometimes, at the end of our initial session, I will not know if I can help you or not. At this point, I may need to do extra research, talk to family members, or help obtain your immigration records.

After these actions are taken, I will have a clearer picture of your case. Then I can explain why we can or cannot help you in more detail. In some cases, what looks to you like you have no chance for success at the outset is actually the opposite.

If I have any doubts about your case, good or bad, I will not give you a firm answer whether you can or you cannot go forward without problems. Even if other lawyers told you that you there is no hope. I will not accept their opinions at face value. I do not assume their level of experience or knowledge.

To provide my best advice for clients, I insist on doing my own evaluation, especially with tough cases.  I will, however, take others’ opinions into consideration. In the end, even if you have already lost your case, I may uncover a path to getting your case reopened or filing an appeal that challenges the earlier decision.

Do You Have A Lower-Priced Service? What If I Cannot Afford You?

Although I believe that our services are fairly priced for the quality of services we provide, I understand some clients cannot afford our fees. I refuse to take short cuts and cut back on our standards for handling cases, and thus will not charge less than necessary to present your best case to immigration officials.

Still, I would like to help those who are unable to pay our fees. To make this possible, there are various options we provide.

First, adjust the terms of payment.  Although we do not offer lower fees, we can modify how payments are made. We can negotiate the amount of the initial retainer. We can structure a monthly payment plan, including the amount of these payments.

Second, we can unbundle our services. This means when possible, we can charge for our services in smaller increments. For example, when we complete the first part of our work, you finish paying for that work before we start on the next aspect of your case. This option is not feasible in certain types of cases due to filing deadlines.

Third, we offer community seminars and courses. Some individuals decide to handle their cases on their own, often for financial reasons. To help offset the possible dangers of going forward unguided, we provide monthly group training sessions for family immigration cases and quarterly group classes for hardship issues related to I-601 waivers and cancellation of removal.

These courses are minimally priced. Our goals are to help people understand the evidence they need, eliminate errors, and be alert to concerns that should be examined in detail with a lawyer before submitting their paperwork to the government.

To find out more about our immigration training seminars and courses, go here: Immigration Training And Events

 

Ready to take a serious and honest look at the strengths and weaknesses of your immigration case? Let’s get started with a personalized strategy and planning consultation . . .

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