The Myth of “I’ll Save Money” – Why Should You Retain an Attorney?

Why saving money now may cost you in the long run.

It is a familiar, recurring scenario. A company or individual facing an immigration issue must ask: “Should I hire an Immigration attorney?” After all, there are many methods to handle immigration issues, many which cost less than hiring an attorney. In this article, two of the most popular methods will be examined: (1) self-Filing and (2) unlicensed immigration consultants. The pros and cons of each option will be discussed. We will then see not just “should” a company retain an attorney to handle their immigration cases, but more importantly, “why”. There are many questions an individual faces at this stage, but perhaps none bigger than whether he or she should retain an attorney. The individual likely wants what anyone would – the most economical and efficient way of handling the immigration issue.


If an individual takes a cursory glance at their case, he or she may be convinced that “I can do this. I do not need to hire an attorney.” This may especially be true of companies attempting to procure employment visas for their employees. Can an individual or corporation research their own immigration issues and complete their own applications? Yes, of course. Therefore, why would anybody pay an attorney to handle their immigration case? A simple analogy helps here. Every year, people must file tax returns. Some people choose to study tax codes, or purchase tax software that allows them to file taxes by themselves. However, many people choose to hire accountants to prepare and file their taxes. Why? These people realize that although they are hiring a professional to complete a task they could theoretically complete on their own, a professional would maximize a person’s chances of owing the least amount of taxes and receiving the largest return. The tax codes are infamously intricate and difficult to navigate, so many people see accountants as a smart investment. Although an individual could prepare and file taxes by his or her self, there is always a chance that the individual may miss an important deduction, or miscalculate their amount owed, and et cetera. Similarly, although an individual could handle their own immigration matters, the individual subjects his or her self to the same potential pitfalls.

Additionally, other problems may arise such as:

· Time: Many immigrant and nonimmigrant visas have yearly quotas. Though a person can take the time to become thoroughly educated with the USCIS process, by the time he or she becomes familiar, there may be no more visas available! A dedicated immigration attorney could expedite this process to insure that a company’s visa applications are timely and properly filed.

· Mistakes: As previously mentioned, a company may save some money by completing and filing their own immigration cases, but there is always the risk of committing a mistake – such as missing a crucial element in an application. The company then faces two immediate problems. One, the company will probably have to consult outside help, such as an attorney, to fix the mistake. In such an event, the case becomes needlessly complicated because this problem could have been averted by hiring by retaining an attorney from the beginning. This will also cost the company additional money to remedy the mistake, which defeats a company’s main goal of handling their immigration matters in-house. Two, because of the mistake the company may have severely harmed its chances of timely receiving its visas – or even worse; the company may have completely lost its chance of receiving its needed visas. Even if an attorney is retained during this stage, the attorney may only be able to offer limited relief if the company has unknowingly filed the wrong form, or if the company has missed the deadline. These are only two possible problems; many more may potentially hamper a company’s immigration needs. Therefore, although a company could complete and file their own immigration cases, it may be a wise investment to retain an attorney to ensure that all proper procedures are followed.

2.Unlicensed Consultants

Alternatively, a company may consider hiring unlicensed consultants instead of an attorney. The company realizes that it may be too much of a gamble to handle its own immigration cases, so it decides to hire a professional. The question then becomes, “Why hire an attorney when I can simply hire an immigration consultant?” For simple jobs, unlicensed consultants are more than adequate. A consultant can file a form I-90 requesting a green card renewal just as well as an attorney. But of course, companies rarely ever have “simple” immigration issues. Just as in real life, even the simplest thing can suddenly experience unexpected complications. Some, but not all, unlicensed consultants may be able to handle unexpected problems that arise. But if the unlicensed consultant cannot, then the unlicensed consultant may have to consult an immigration attorney for advice, which in turn, costs time and money. This scenario illustrates the key difference between unlicensed consultants and immigration attorneys: An unlicensed consultant may seek advice regarding legal immigration issues from an attorney, but an attorney never seeks immigration advice from an unlicensed consultant regarding legal immigration issues. The simple truth is, even the best immigration consultant cannot provide all the services and representation that an attorney can provide to a client. For example: despite a company’s timely filing of multiple visas, the USCIS has neither adjudicated the files, nor has the USCIS given any reason or rationale why the files are still pending. With an unlicensed consultant, a company has very few, if any options. However, an attorney could compose a writ of mandamus, and ask the court to compel the USCIS to adjudicate the company’s files. Analogously, an attorney may be invaluable if family immigration issues arise, or if the company needs an attorney to represent them in immigration court. Again, a company may save money by signing with an unlicensed consultant, but the company will be limiting itself of its available options, and there is no guarantee the consultant can adequately handle all of the company’s needs. When a consultant is unable to help the consultant’s client, the client then faces the same problems as if the client had decided to self-file. This illustrates why a company does not necessarily save money by hiring a consultant instead of an attorney

. 3. Immigration Attorneys

Therefore, after weighing all the pros and cons of each option, many companies opt to hire an immigration attorney to handle their cases. Through experience, these companies realize that retaining an attorney makes good business sense because there are simply too many possible mistakes a company may make if they complete their applications themselves, and unlicensed consultants are inadequate for all of a company’s needs. Ultimately, what every company must decide is what is the most economical, efficient, and effective way to handle their immigration needs and concerns. This article has already debunked the belief that it is always better for a company to handle immigration issues themselves, or to hire unlicensed consultants. But aside from the reasons mentioned above, there are many other reasons why it would be in a company’s best interest to hire an attorney, including:

· Confidentiality: Every lawyer is sworn to protect his client’s privacy and confidentiality. Companies know that whatever they tell their lawyer is protected, and except for very limited circumstances, a lawyer cannot be compelled to reveal his client’s information to outside parties.

· Professional, Ethical Service: All attorneys must follow both the American Bar Association Rules of Professional Responsibility and the CA Code of Professional Responsibility. This protects clients from unscrupulous lawyers, and it also guarantees that clients receive quality representation.

· Strenuous Certification Process: Attorneys must successfully complete law school to attain their Juris Doctorate. Then the attorney must pass the California Bar Exam, a 3-day test, to certify that they are competent in a variety of legal matters before he or she is allowed to practice.


The old maxim “you get what you pay for” certainly holds true in this case. Dealing with the USCIS can become incredibly complicated, and this is why it is essential to have someone on your side that is intimately familiar with the way the USCISC operates. Here at the Shah Peerally Law Group PC, we pride ourselves on providing our clients with an unparalleled level of personal attention and representation. This is why we insist on conducting a consultation with every potential client. There, we listen to the client’s story, and then we list possible options available to them, and the likelihood of success. We realize that hiring an attorney is an investment, and we want to ensure that our clients are happy with their decision. The immigration field is more than a job for us, it is a profession. Please feel free to contact us at anytime.

Important: Information provided in this article is for educational purposes only. You should not act or refrain to act solely on the information provided. Consult an attorney before you make a decision on your case. For more information call us at 510 742 5887