Why An Immigration Consultation WON'T Help You

I'd rather chat on the phone for a few minutes--AT NO CHARGE--than charge money for generic advice.
Have you even seen Monty Python's The Holy Grail? No? Go to Netflix and watch it, and then come back to this post.

Back already? Great! 

So recall the scene where King Arthur must answer three meaningless questions to cross the Bridge of Death. What if King Arther was given the privilege of paying the bridge keeper $360 for the the privilege of telling him his favorite color? Well, that's what some immigration consultations can feel like.  Believe it or not, they can feel like it for the attorney too.

Recently, I did a one-hour, paid consultation for a recently-married couple considering a marriage green card.

I would not do it again. 

Believing that one hour would cover simple issues and "review forms," I encountered process questions that intersected with complicated questions about the noncitizen's current status, and ability to work.  All important questions mind you, but the yarn of issues quickly unraveled.  In 1.25 hour consult, I had also promised to review forms, and make sure they met central issue of eligibility, which is of course the legal standard of a "bona fide marital relationship."  What I discovered was simply not enough time to provide complete and accurate answers.  This couple also had one or two wrinkles in their life together that would surely lead to delay or denial.  At the end, the time went far beyond what I promised, and I still found myself finally advising them to hire an attorney to do their green card for them. 

So, before you spend your money on bullocks (incomplete and general advice), that is my advice to you too, for many immigration circumstances.  

HERE'S WHY:  A consultation has many benefits, as I discussed in this posting a while back: Consultation: Your Immigration Road Map.  However, a some consultations may not benefit some situations the way people might suppose.  

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1) First, an hour or so of advice is not enough time go through all of the issues particular to your situation to ensure approval of an actual application.  It is best used to determine what kind of immigration process would best benefit a noncitizen, what options are NOT available, whether a lawyer's help would be necessary or advisable, AND certain types of social and financial direction that can impact one's immigration down the road.

2) A marriage green card’s approval, for example, is of paramount importance.  It’s the link between a noncitizen's temporary life in the United States and their permanent life as an American. Nothing is more important to noncitizens at that point.

3) The smoothest of approval cases are currently taking 13 to 14 months, affecting many aspects of a noncitizen's day to day life.  And that is only if there are no delays due to RFE’s. Even if a applicant is confident of their situation, my consultation yesterday proved that more often than not there are issues people never realized they needed to address. 

4) The basic question is this:  On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is your immigration approval?  If the answer is not “10,” then I would suggest a thorough reading of the form instructions on your own.  This is adequate, given the risk you’re willing to take, if just minimal.  Why spend a single dime if you'll take any risk with approval.  If your answer is indeed 10, then the permanent residency of one’s spouse is worth at least the cost of a wedding ring if not more.  After all, is the goal to spend your lives together, or to prove you don’t need a lawyer?

A consultation from an attorney could range from $50 on up. My rate for 2018, for example, is $360 for 1.25 hours.  But I would much rather talk to someone on the phone for 10 or 15 minutes---AT NO CHARGE--and determine if an attorney is really necessary, than waste one dime on general advice one could get from the form instructions anyway.

That way, if you want to tell me your favorite color or the air speed velocity of a laden swallow, it costs you nothing.


In any case, that is just my take given my experience. As of January 2019, I have a 100% percent green card approval record, because I am careful and thorough with every case.  My ideal clients put value in that. Similarly, you must decide what value you put on it.

If you would like to chat on the phone for a few minutes to discuss your situation, you can call me on my cell at 612-206-3721.  I would love the chance to work with you in earnest!

ALSO, in case you cheated and didn't watch the movie, it's ok.  Here's that hallowed scene from movie history!


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