Immigration Lawyer Cost: How to Set Your Prices

Immigration lawyer costs can vary widely depending on the type of case and how long it takes. Here are some tips to help you set your prices.

Immigration Lawyer Cost: How to Set Your Prices

From nonprofit organizations to private practices, immigration lawyer costs can drastically vary. And if you’re running your own business, it can be difficult to know how to correctly price your services.

Read on to learn more about what to consider when setting your prices. 

The Immigration Landscape

In the fiscal year 2021, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services received 9.1 million applications, petitions and requests. The number represented an 18% increase from the year before. Given this demand, it’s easy to see why the work of immigration lawyers is so important as they help millions navigate the labyrinthine immigration system. 

A graph showing the steady rise in pending immigration cases from FY 2017 to 2022.
This graph documents the change in pending immigration court cases from FY 2017 to 2022. Image courtesy of the Executive for Immigration Review

This heavy volume of applications contributes to a large, years-long backlog (which is three times larger than it was in 2017), meaning that what once might have taken a few months for USCIS to process can now take much longer. The Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status (I-918), for example, takes 64.5 months on average to process, according to USCIS. 

Case processing time for I-918 form (64.5 months)
An I-918 Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status has an average wait time of 64.5 months.

These longer times mostly affect those who file these applications, but they also impact the way that lawyers work. Because of longer processing times, attorneys cannot close out their cases as quickly, and client anxiety means more following up with lawyers for answers on their filings, which can lead to “compassion fatigue.”

Did you know? Noodle makes it easier for immigration lawyers to receive payment with automatic invoicing and payment reminders sent directly to clients. Learn more.

How to Set Service Fees: 5 Considerations

When it comes time to set your prices, here’s what you want to consider:

1. Your Competitors’ Prices

Knowing how much firms in your area charge gives you an idea if your fees are too high or too low and allow you to remain competitive. You can ask clients what they have paid when working with other lawyers. 

2. The Length of the Case

All cases have different wait times. For example, a Record of Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status (I-407) has a two-month processing time while an Application for T Nonimmigrant Status (I-914) can take 17 months. Since longer processing times affect whether you can close out a case, therefore adding to your caseload, you might consider charging more depending on how long it will take for USCIS to reach a decision. 

2. Factors That Make a Case More Complex

A client’s history can complicate a case. For example, tax issues can require more effort on a lawyer’s part so that the client has favorable results. The intake process can illuminate specifics about a person’s case and help you set a price. 

4. The Amount of Effort

Some cases require that you go to court. Some do not. And even then, not all court appearances require the same amount of effort and preparation. For example, appearing in front of a judge to ask that they dismiss a case is not the same as representing a client in an asylum case. 

5. Whether You Charge a Flat Fee or Per Hour Fee

Many immigration lawyers charge a flat fee, but you can also charge by the hour. If you go with an hourly fee, you won’t have to guess how long a case will take. However, once you do enough cases you will know exactly how much time it will take you and your clients might appreciate getting a number upfront. 

Can You Reassess Fees on Current Cases? 

Yes, you can reassess fees if you learn new information that the client didn’t reveal during the intake process that affects their case. If, for example, they had a deportation order that they didn’t mention before, you’ll have to change how you approach the case, which warrants a change in what you charge.

Superpower Your Immigration Firm
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