Why Hire An Attorney
The U.S. immigration landscape has sustained numerous changes in the past 20 years, and it has now become significantly more difficult to obtain visa and green card approvals.
Less than 60% of the fiancée and marriage visa petitions filed ever result in a visa being issued. A denial of a spousal visa is truly tragic in that it can mean that the foreign spouse of a U.S. citizen will never be allowed to enter the U.S. The officers who conduct the visa interviews at the U.S. Consulates throughout the world have tremendous discretion when deciding whether to issue the fiancée or spousal visa. Unfortunately, during the past several years, we have seen a disturbing trend, more prevalent in some Consulates than in others, of outright denials of both K1 fiancée visas and spousal visas in situations where all the requirements for the visa issuance were met and the visa should have been approved. Some of the ways we successfully overcome this problem includes advising our clients as to the visa that gives them the best chances of success, collection and preparation of documents specific to the Consulate that will be processing the visa application and thorough preparation of the fiancée or spouse for the visa interview starting as early as when we are hired for the fiancée or spousal visa. All of this just makes it more evident that anyone who is really serious about bringing a foreign fiancée or spouse to the U.S. would be crazy not to hire an immigration attorney who has a lot of experience in obtaining fiancée or marriage visas.
Your Three Choices
Do It Yourself
It seems that every day, we receive calls from someone who tells us, “I’ve looked over the forms and they seem simple enough.” But as the saying goes, appearances can be deceiving. Unless you have a great deal of experience working with immigration forms, you may unwittingly fall into a trap by providing an incorrect or inappropriate response to a question that is seeking specific information about the person’s eligibility for immigration benefits. Such errors can result in anything from significant processing delays, the issuance of complicated “Request for Evidence” letters from USCIS, denials of immigration benefits—or worse—outright denials of all future immigration benefits. Keep in mind that any document or form that is filed with our U.S. immigration agencies becomes a part of their permanent record. This is to say that any erroneous information that has been provided to the government, no matter how long ago, can be pulled up and used against you in any future immigration applications. If not handled appropriately, these errors have resulted in devastating consequences for many immigration benefit seekers.
A few well-worn tenets apply to the immigration process: “The devil is in the details” and “preparation is key.” Our most successful clients are the ones who call us before they have filed any documents or forms with the immigration agencies. We can advise on the best strategies and lay out the groundwork for a successful immigration application even before a single document is ever filed. But even for those who have already filed and are awaiting a decision, or those who have already had their immigration applications denied, depending on where you stand and what struggles you may have faced, with our extensive knowledge in the family immigration field, we will still be able to assist you.
Hire a Visa Service
The cost of these so-called visa services can make them an appealing option, especially to anyone on a tight budget. These services generally use automated systems, are not usually tailored to a client’s specific circumstances, and are often not overseen by a licensed attorney. Unfortunately, some individuals who have used these services later end up contacting our office either because of mistakes that were made through having used these services, or—due to improper screening or complications that arose during the process—the case became far more complex than these services are capable of or can legally handle as non-attorneys. Although these visa services may be able to assist in assembling an application packet that meets minimum standards, once that work is completed, you are asked to mail in the application yourself and you are on your own from there. The service is not personalized. They do not track your case status or timing for you. They cannot assist you in responding to requests for additional evidence. Indeed, they cannot contact the immigration agencies on your behalf if problems arise. But as a licensed attorney office, we can take all of those actions and provided the more targeted assistance that many clients need.
If you have already filed any immigration paperwork using a visa service, don’t worry. Contact our office as soon as possible for a complete case analysis and to lay out an effective strategy for your case moving forward.
Hire an Attorney
If you are serious about getting your fiancée or spouse to the U.S. this is the only option that makes sense. However, some who call us concerning a fiancée or marriage visa really don’t care if the fiancée receives the visa. If he or she does receive it they expect to have a great time for 90 days and if he or she is denied the visa, “no harm no foul”. If you are one of the individuals who is really just fooling around with this, please do not call us for advice.
When I advise you to hire an attorney I do not mean just any immigration attorney. You should look for the following:
1. An attorney with a lot of experience in obtaining fiancée and marriage visas including experience in obtaining these visas through the Consulate which will process your fiancée’s or spouse’s visa. Just during the past 12 months we have handled fiancée and spousal visas through approximately 100 different U.S. Consulates throughout the world.
2. An attorney who DOES NOT use outright lies, false or misleading advertising or drop down small print to get you to hire him. When you see or hear the following, you should immediately depart that web site or hang up the phone.
My absolute favorite. Stop and think for a moment. You want an immigration attorney to handle your visa petition and application who has a lot of experience in the fiancée or marriage visa process. If an attorney has handled a lot of fiancée and marriage visa processing there is no way in the world he or she is going to have a 100% success rate. There can be a lot of different reasons why a particular visa did not get issued and some of them are not the fault of the attorney. The client or the foreign fiancée or spouse may have lied to the attorney, given him false documents or information, mislead or lied during the visa interview, etc. Sometimes a particular U.S. Consulate is very harsh in their processing of visas. The bottom line is that 100% success with any kind of volume is impossible.
MONEY BACK GUARANTEE
Another favorite. First, under the Rules of Professional Conduct that attorneys are required to follow, we are not allowed to guarantee results. Second, if you read the small print you will probably see that it is not actually a “guarantee”. Often in a drop down or in small print on a different web page they will list the conditions under which the money back guarantee is invalid and the list will include all of the reasons the visa could be denied at the Consulate. Last, but not least, the attorneys advertising this do not usually live up to it. Over the years I have had dozens of calls from clients of other attorneys who hired the other attorneys because of the money back guarantee. When the client did not receive the visa and asked for the legal fee to be returned, guess what happened? That’s right, no refund.
FALSE PROCESSING TIMES
Because we have done so many recent fiancée and spousal visa cases through all five of the USCIS processing centers and through approximately 135 Consulates throughout the world, we know exactly how long these visas are currently taking for your situation. We will use this information to estimate the length of time it will take us to obtain your visa. There is nothing anyone else can do, other than what we will do, to speed up the processing of your fiancée or marriage visa. Often, competitors will give you a shorter time estimate in order to get you to hire them. I would also caution that you cannot always rely on the time estimates of the various government web sites as they are often either incorrect or not current.
Bringing a fiancée or spouse to the U.S. can be a very emotional experience. During the visa process chances are that you and your fiancée/spouse will have questions that you will want to ask us. Often it is just a case of needing reassurance about something, but nonetheless it is very important to you. You will want to contact us by phone or email to discuss whatever is on your mind. We understand and this is part of the service covered by our legal fee. However, this is not always the case with our competitors. For example, one of them, hidden in a drop down list, offers these phone options to their clients who have already paid their full legal fee for the visa service: “Free consultation limited to 20 minutes.” ” consultation for interview preparation limited to 45 minutes.” In other words, instead of being able to have your questions answered whenever necessary, you are limited to 20 minutes for the visa process and 45 minutes for preparation for the visa interview. If you want additional time, their fee is $150 for 28 minutes and $250 for 45 minutes. This equates to $360 per hour and $333 per hour in addition to the legal fee the client has already paid for the visa service.
Many attorneys advertising fiancée or marriage visa services on the internet show a low fee in large type, but when you click on the service provided for that fee you see that it only includes the preparation of forms and submission of the visa petition to the USCIS. If you want them to handle the case at the National Visa Center and handle the visa processing at the Consulate you must pay additional fees.
Many attorneys claiming to be “fiancée and marriage visa specialists” are actually practicing other types of immigration law and even non-immigration law. Some list the other areas on their web site (usually well-hidden) but most do not.
FALSELY CLAIMING TO BE AN ATTORNEY
Some web sites claim to be a “K visa attorney” but when you read the entire site you will find that they are actually a visa service that is somehow supervised by an actual immigration attorney.
NUMBER OF YEARS EXPERIENCE
Advertising that the attorney has (X) number of years of experience. Unless they state that the (X) number of years of experience were in processing K1 fiancée visas or CR1/IR1 spousal visas, the experience was probably in some other area of law, possibly not even in immigration law.
ADVERTISING AND OFFICE OR OFFICES THAT DO NOT EXIST
Some attorneys advertise that they have offices in other U.S. and/or foreign cities when the “offices” do not exist. They do this solely to get you to hire them. The question then becomes do you want to have an attorney who has already lied to you handling the visa processing of your future fiancée or spouse.
If the immigration attorney is experienced and knows what he or she is doing, there is absolutely no need for more than one office. Immigration law is federal, not state law so every attorney who is licensed to practice law in one state is automatically licensed to practice immigration law in all 50 states. The fiancée and marriage visa petitions are not filed locally, so a local office or meeting with the clients in person is never required.
Also, an immigration attorney who is experienced in processing fiancée or marriage visas does not need a “representative” in the beneficiary’s country. The attorney will be able to handle everything necessary with the foreigner’s visa application by phone and email because they will have direct email and/or phone contact with the Consulate’s officers who are processing the visa.
Our immigration law firm prepares your fiancée or spouse for the visa interview including providing them with a list of questions that particular Consulate is currently asking at the visa interview.