Does your firm charge a fee for an initial consultation?

No, at FES Immigration Law, there is no fee for an initial consultation.  During the initial consultation, you will meet directly with an attorney who will evaluate the specific facts of your case and determine whether there is any immigration relief available in your case.  If there is immigration relief available in your case, the attorney will quote you a fee for your case during the initial consultation or shortly thereafter.

Does your firm charge an hourly rate or on a flat fee basis?

At FES Immigration Law, we charge on a flat fee basis, which means that you will know the total cost of your case upfront.  The fee will include all of the services required to complete the filing of your case.  However, it may not include additional work or representation that may be required after filing such as preparing and filing additional documents, updating forms, or representation at appointments or interviews that were not initially anticipated.

Also, although the fee typically depends on the type of case, the fee may vary for the same types of cases depending on the complexity of the case.

The fee for your case can be divided into monthly payments, and you will discuss the amount that you would feel comfortable paying on a monthly basis when you retain our services.

I was arrested and/or convicted of a crime. Do I need to provide documents regarding this arrest or conviction for my immigration case?

Yes, even if you were arrested but not ultimately convicted of a crime or if you were convicted of a crime and have satisfactorily completed the terms of your sentence, you will still need to obtain and provide documents regarding any arrests or convictions in your case.  Certified police and court records of criminal charges, arrests, or convictions are generally required in immigration cases.  Additionally, it is important for your attorney to review these documents closely in order to properly advise you on how or if your criminal history will affect your case.

Also, it is important to understand that even if you were not technically convicted of a crime under criminal law, you may be found to have been convicted of a crime under immigration law.

Since criminal convictions can have a serious impact on the outcome of your case and may even cause you to be placed in removal proceedings, it is critical that you advise your immigration attorney of any arrests or convictions in your case during your initial consultation.

What if I have expunged my criminal record? Do I still need to disclose information about my record in my immigration case?

Yes.  Although an expungement serves to remove an arrest or conviction from your criminal record for most purposes such as when applying for a job or an apartment, your criminal record will continue to exist for immigration purposes.

It is therefore extremely important that you advise your immigration attorney of your complete criminal record, regardless of whether you have expunged your record.

I entered the U.S. on a tourist visa and have remained here beyond the expiration date of my authorized stay. I am married to a U.S. citizen. Can I remain in the U.S. to apply for my residency?

Generally, a foreign national cannot remain in the U.S. to apply for residency (or to apply for the process known as “adjustment of status”) if he or she is in unlawful immigration status on the date of filing the adjustment application.  However, immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (i.e., spouses of U.S. citizens, unmarried children under 21 years of age of a U.S. citizen, or parents of a U.S. citizen if the U.S. citizen is 21 years of age or older) who have entered the U.S. lawfully (such as with a tourist visa) are exempt from this provision in the law and are eligible to apply for adjustment of status.

It is important that you consult an immigration attorney about the specific facts of your case in order to confirm your eligibility for adjustment of status.

I entered the U.S. without being inspected by an immigration official and have remained in the U.S. without legal status since this time. I recently married a U.S. citizen, and I am wondering if I can apply for my residency in the U.S.?

Unfortunately, you will not be able to apply for your residency in the U.S. due to your unlawful entry, but you may be eligible to apply for your residency at a U.S. Department of State Consulate abroad through the process known as “consular processing.”  However, you will also need to apply for a waiver in your case due to your unlawful presence in the U.S., which is a ground of inadmissibility in your case (and you must be admissible to the U.S. in order to apply for lawful permanent residence).  Individuals who have accrued more than 180 days of unlawful presence while in the U.S. must obtain a waiver of inadmissibility to “pardon” their unlawful presence and overcome this ground.  There is a provisional unlawful presence waiver that is available to individuals who are statutorily eligible for an immigrant visa and who only require a waiver due to their unlawful presence.  This waiver allows these individuals to apply for the waiver prior to leaving the country for their immigrant visa interview.

You should speak to an immigration attorney who can evaluate all of the details of your case to determine your eligibility for consular processing and the provisional unlawful presence waiver.

What is the difference between adjustment of status and consular processing?

Adjustment of status refers to the process of obtaining your residency (or your green card) while you are in the U.S.  If you are eligible for adjustment of status, you will not have to return to your home country in order to complete the process.

If you are outside of the U.S., you will need to apply for your residency abroad through consular processing, which involves applying for your green card at a U.S. Department of State consulate abroad so that you can enter the U.S. as a permanent resident.

In some cases, even if you are in the U.S., you will need to obtain your residency through consular processing.

You should speak to an immigration attorney about your case to determine whether you are eligible for adjustment of status or consular processing.

Can I travel outside of the U.S. while my immigration application is pending?

You may be able to travel outside of the U.S. while your immigration application is pending, but you will need to apply for advance parole prior to traveling.  You may apply for advance parole in cases such as when you have a pending application for adjustment of status or Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”).  Advance parole serves to keep your pending application "alive" while you are outside of the country so that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) does not cancel your application due to your travel.  However, it does not guarantee your reentry into the U.S.  It is therefore generally best to remain in the U.S. while your application is pending to avoid any issues upon your reentry.

If you are interested in traveling outside of the U.S. while your immigration application is pending, you should consult an immigration attorney prior to traveling.

I have a friend or family member who I believe has almost the exact same type of case as me. Why is immigration relief available to him or her and not available to me?

It is important to keep in mind that every immigration case is different.  Your friend or family member may have a different criminal or immigration history than you, family members with lawful status through whom he or she may be able to obtain immigration relief, or may have been a victim of a certain crime that makes him or her eligible for relief such as a U visa.  You should therefore consult an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney who will evaluate the specific facts of your case to determine which options, if any, are available in your particular case.