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L1A to GC - Do I need an Immigration lawyer?

L1A to GC - Do I need an Immigration lawyer?

Old May 2nd 2012, 11:20 pm
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Default L1A to GC - Do I need an Immigration lawyer?

Hi all,

I have been trying to figure out if I need to employ an immigration lawyer when applying for a GC from an L1A visa. My company is happy to sponsor me for the application itself, but will not pay for the cost of the lawyer. Whilst I don't mind paying a reasonable price, I was quoted $10,000 as the cost of my application by one of the better known immigration law firms.

Having done some research (thank you British Expats.com), I don't see the reason for such a large fee, given a) that the application fees themselves are only ~ $1600, and b) there appears to be only two forms to fill out, the I-140and the I-485. Having looked at both forms, neither appears to be overly complicated?!? Am I missing something, or is this some sort of Kafkaesque area of the law that you are simply required to have a lawyer? As my company paid the lawyers for the L1A application, I did not really care but it must be said that they did not appear to have to do a lot of work for the L1A filing.

As way of quick background, I was granted L1A in March 2011, and have been living in the US since then. I want to transfer to a GC as I don't want to be forced to move if my company goes out of business.

I would be extremely grateful if anyone knows anywhere that lists the exact steps that needs to be taken (sorry if this has already been discussed in the forum - I did search but could not find it anywhere) to apply for the GC.

Failing that, I would also happily take recommendations for reasonably priced immigration lawyers.

Any help or advice is welcome!

Thanks

Tom
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Old May 2nd 2012, 11:34 pm
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Default Re: L1A to GC - Do I need an Immigration lawyer?

All depends how much money you want to invest in yourself and how much value you put being able to live in USA.

Switching from L1A to Green Card is not an automatic. There are subtle differences. The powers that be are a little more stricter as a Green Card is permanent whereas the visa renewals have a time limit and when they come around you need to go home.

Not being an experienced immigration lawyer I decided to hire one to do my Green card. However I am sure people have tried to do it themselves.

Good luck
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Old May 3rd 2012, 1:46 am
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Default Re: L1A to GC - Do I need an Immigration lawyer?

You can try asking some immigration attorneys for their input and get a quote from them, I'm sure you will find a range of prices, then you can make a decision:

www.ailalawyer.com

Rene
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Old May 3rd 2012, 2:19 pm
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Default Re: L1A to GC - Do I need an Immigration lawyer?

Thanks for the list, this is useful.

I guess I am still somewhat puzzled at the need for a lawyer to file the forms. Given that I am not time constrained, I may make an attempt at filing the forms myself.
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Old May 3rd 2012, 2:52 pm
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Default Re: L1A to GC - Do I need an Immigration lawyer?

Originally Posted by Duke Leto View Post
I guess I am still somewhat puzzled at the need for a lawyer to file the forms. Given that I am not time constrained, I may make an attempt at filing the forms myself.
I have known people IRL who maintain that a "good" lawyer can deploy magical powers (I paraphrase, but only slightly) to get your case processed faster, which I think is nonsense. However, the apparent simplicity of the forms you mention is deceptive: things can go wrong, and I would say that an experienced lawyer is worth every cent.

Personally, I paid about $5k (including application fee) for the I-485 process for me and my wife. But do shop around. Are you self-petitioning in EB1, or something? (I ask because if your employer "owns" the I-140 I would've thought they'd have a lawyer in mind...)
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Old May 3rd 2012, 3:59 pm
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Default Re: L1A to GC - Do I need an Immigration lawyer?

Originally Posted by Duke Leto View Post
I guess I am still somewhat puzzled at the need for a lawyer to file the forms. Given that I am not time constrained, I may make an attempt at filing the forms myself.
In another thread in which you posted, I alluded to the lawyer's experience! So, what's your risk tolerance for failure?

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Old May 3rd 2012, 4:04 pm
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Default Re: L1A to GC - Do I need an Immigration lawyer?

Are you self-petitioning in EB1, or something? (I ask because if your employer "owns" the I-140 I would've thought they'd have a lawyer in mind...)
No, the company is happy to support my application, but just unwilling to pay for the cost of the legal fees. That said, I think once I tell them that I will be filling out the form on their behalf, they may take a different view.

Is it possible to get a lawyer to help with only the filing of the I-485?

Last edited by Noorah101; May 3rd 2012 at 4:39 pm. Reason: fixed quotes
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Old May 3rd 2012, 4:06 pm
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Default Re: L1A to GC - Do I need an Immigration lawyer?

Originally Posted by Duke Leto View Post
Is it possible to get a lawyer to help with only the filing of the I-485?
Yes.

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Old May 3rd 2012, 4:27 pm
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Default Re: L1A to GC - Do I need an Immigration lawyer?

Originally Posted by ian-mstm View Post
In another thread in which you posted, I alluded to the lawyer's experience! So, what's your risk tolerance for failure?

Ian
Let's put it this way, if the application takes a one year or a year and half, that's fine. I still don't see how having a lawyer should affect the actual outcome, I can see how it would speed up the process, but I guess I am struggling to understand where the ambiguity lies. More of a principle point really, I can pay the lawyer, but I don’t like paying for something when it is not clear what I benefits I am for.
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Old May 3rd 2012, 4:44 pm
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Default Re: L1A to GC - Do I need an Immigration lawyer?

Originally Posted by Duke Leto View Post
Let's put it this way, if the application takes a one year or a year and half, that's fine. I still don't see how having a lawyer should affect the actual outcome, I can see how it would speed up the process, but I guess I am struggling to understand where the ambiguity lies. More of a principle point really, I can pay the lawyer, but I don’t like paying for something when it is not clear what I benefits I am for.
If the company is sponsoring your green card application, will they let you use just any ol' lawyer, though? My guess is that they'd want you to use the company lawyer, and whatever his fee is, you would pay it instead of the company paying it.

We keep saying it's not the "filling out forms" part that's costly. Even if you hire a lawyer, YOU are still the one who will fill out the relevent forms and return them to the lawyer. It's the lawyer's experience and knowledge of the process that you are paying for, and to have him ready to fix any problems that may arise. I don't know what problems may arise, but try doing more research on the topic, to see what snags others might have run into. Then decide if you want to have a lawyer or not.

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Old May 3rd 2012, 6:00 pm
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Default Re: L1A to GC - Do I need an Immigration lawyer?

Originally Posted by Duke Leto View Post
I still don't see how having a lawyer should affect the actual outcome, I can see how it would speed up the process, but I guess I am struggling to understand where the ambiguity lies. More of a principle point really, I can pay the lawyer, but I don’t like paying for something when it is not clear what I benefits I am for.
Actually, I think it's the other way about. Using a lawyer can't really speed up the process because the lawyer can't control USCIS' backlog or the order in which they handle cases. But having a lawyer help prepare the submission certainly can affect the way in which your case is considered once they do get around to considering it.
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Old May 3rd 2012, 6:33 pm
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Default Re: L1A to GC - Do I need an Immigration lawyer?

Originally Posted by zerlesen View Post
Actually, I think it's the other way about. Using a lawyer can't really speed up the process because the lawyer can't control USCIS' backlog or the order in which they handle cases. But having a lawyer help prepare the submission certainly can affect the way in which your case is considered once they do get around to considering it.
+1

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Old May 3rd 2012, 6:59 pm
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Default Re: L1A to GC - Do I need an Immigration lawyer?

Thanks for your comments all, it seems like there is a near 100% consensus towards using a lawyer. I guess I was just trying to make a more general point (probably the wrong forum) that the assumption is always that we need to employ someone to do these kinds of things, e.g. the filing of your taxes. Surely it should be made much more straightforward and less ambiguous so that one does not need to use a lawyer/accountant in the first place.

Anyways, if I do end up going through the process without using a Lawyer I will post a summary of the process.
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Old May 3rd 2012, 7:56 pm
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Default Re: L1A to GC - Do I need an Immigration lawyer?

Originally Posted by Duke Leto View Post
Thanks for your comments all, it seems like there is a near 100% consensus towards using a lawyer. I guess I was just trying to make a more general point (probably the wrong forum) that the assumption is always that we need to employ someone to do these kinds of things, e.g. the filing of your taxes.
For some applications, such as a marriage-based visa, it's quite easy to do it yourself without a lawyer's involvement. Indeed... many of us have successfully navigated the entire immigration process clear through to naturalization without a lawyer. Other people though, prefer a lawyer because it helps them sleep better at night... same thing with respect to taxes, really!

Employment-based visa to GC though... not quite as straightforward, but still doable sans lawyer - but I'm sure it's been done, and successfully so!

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Old May 3rd 2012, 8:16 pm
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Default Re: L1A to GC - Do I need an Immigration lawyer?

Originally Posted by Duke Leto View Post
Thanks for your comments all, it seems like there is a near 100% consensus towards using a lawyer. I guess I was just trying to make a more general point (probably the wrong forum) that the assumption is always that we need to employ someone to do these kinds of things, e.g. the filing of your taxes.
I agree absolutely. In fact - against all common sense - I file my own taxes, for more or less this reason. It's a huge waste of time and effort, but it makes me feel more in control of my existence, and less like a helpless supplicant caught up in a whimsical, incomprehensible, yet all-powerful bureaucracy. Which brings us back to immigration.

AOS is kind of a big deal, and USCIS takes these cases seriously. (After all, an LPR has lots, lots more rights than an L-1 nonimmigrant, and it's possible but not trivial for them to take those rights away again once they're granted.) What's more, approval is discretionary, and the burden of convincing the person reviewing your file rests squarely with you and/or your employer. If they are not convinced, you have very limited recourse. So whereas - given my all-too-modest station in life - the consequences of me ballsing up my taxes are not that severe, an insufficiently convincing submission to USCIS really could have made my life irrevocably more complicated, and not in the good way. It's not that it would've been impossible to fill the forms out, but the nuances of providing decent supporting information in the places where problems can arise are, I think, things that are learned from experience.

So I hope the lawyer recommendations aren't just coming across as deference to authority, or credentialism. Whichever way you end up approaching it, do post updates.
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