I-601 Hardship Waiver Lawyer Fees – Overview
Yes, I realize that if you’re reading this article, you probably are interested in what I charge for an I-601 hardship waiver. I won’t be able to give you a specific quote for your case until we discuss your case in detail. This is because some cases are more complex than others and will require more legal research and time to prepare the best waiver package possible. As a result, if your case has special issues, it may be necessary to adjust the lawyer fee. With this in mind, however, for most I-601 hardship waiver cases I will charge $4,000 to $9,000.
I strongly recommend that you focus your search for an immigration lawyer for your waiver case on first finding the lawyer that you think will be able to best represent you. Keep in mind that the best lawyer for you may not be the best lawyer for your friend. It will depend on the specific nature of your case, the personality of both you and the lawyer and your personal preferences. Once you narrow down your list of who you think will be the best lawyer for you, you can then make a better informed decision about who to hire and whether the lawyer fee represents a good value.
You should also keep in mind that every immigration lawyer brings different skills, knowledge and experience to your case. These factors will play an important role in how your lawyer prepares your waiver package. Simply shopping for the least expensive lawyer without considering these other factors may cause you to overlook the lawyer who could best represent you. This doesn’t mean that you should just hire the most expensive lawyer either, because the most expensive lawyer may not be the best one for your case. Instead, it simply means that your primary focus should be on finding the lawyer who will be the best person to represent you, not on comparing lawyer fees.
I-601 Hardship Waiver Lawyer Fees – Comparison
When comparing the lawyer fees for an I-601 hardship waiver, you should always look at the value that the fee represents. Specific items to consider include:
- Who will perform the work on your case? Will it be the lawyer that you hire or will a junior lawyer or paralegal be tasked with preparing your hardship waiver application?
- Who will you be able to speak with for case updates or other questions? Will you have access to the primary lawyer working on your case? Or will you only be able to speak with a case manager or assistant about your case?
- What is the communications policy of the law firm? Will you be able to schedule phone and Skype calls with your lawyer? If you are in the same area as your lawyer, will you be able to schedule in-office meetings with your lawyer without paying an additional fee?
- Will you be charged additional monthly fees while you wait for a decision on your case? Or will you pay one fee for the entire case, even if there is a delay in receiving a decision from USCIS?
- How much time will your lawyer spend talking to you about your case to help you identify all of the possible hardship factors that could build a stronger waiver application?
- Are you confident that your lawyer understands the issues in your case and will be able to present the issues in the most persuasive manner possible to help you win your case?
- Will you be charged extra for postage, copy costs or phone calls?
I-601 Hardship Waiver Lawyer Fees – Payment Options
Another issue you may want to consider when hiring an immigration lawyer is whether the payment options will be a good fit for you. For example, if it would be easier for you to pay by credit card, does the immigration lawyer accept credit cards? Do you need a monthly payment plan instead? When will you need to pay the I-601 hardship waiver application fee?
As a point of reference, I will typically require that the entire lawyer fee be deposited in a trust account at the beginning of the case. Payments are then drawn from the trust account as described in the client representation agreement. Instead of offering a payment plan, I accept credit cards so that my clients can work out payments that best match their budget with their bank or credit card company.
Why do I do this? I’ve found that trying to manage monthly payment plans for my clients created a significant overhead cost which in turn increased my fees. Instead of paying a higher lawyer fee, I’ve found that my clients prefer to either (1) save the fee before hiring me, or (2) pay by credit card so that they can have much more flexible payment terms than the fixed monthly payments that I would be able to offer.
Keep in mind, the goal is to prepare the waiver application as quickly as possible so that the family separation is minimized. This means that there isn’t enough time between hiring me and submitting the package for there to be more than the initial payment and one or two payments under the payment plan. The flexibility of paying by credit card or the certainty of saving the entire fee to make one payment at the beginning of the case has simply been the best option.
For clients who hire me to assist with both green card process (immigrant visa or adjustment of status) and the waiver application, I will typically collect one smaller payment at the beginning of the case for the immigrant visa or adjustment of status process. My clients then pay the remaining balance when they are ready to begin the waiver application. This allows them to get started with the process with one smaller payment, and they will typically have at least several months to save the remaining balance while the immigrant visa application or adjustment of status application is decided.