FAQs - www.blackwell-immigration.com


Blackwell Law Group S.C.


Keeping Families Together

Proudly serving families in Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha, Waukesha, Appleton, Oshkosh, Green Bay, Manitowoc and nearby towns since 2006.

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131 W. Layton Ave, Ste 201

Milwaukee, WI 53207


Do I need an immigration attorney?


People seek assistance from an immigration attorney for two reasons.  First, to give their situation the best chance of a successful outcome.  Second, to give them peace of mind while they go through the immigration process.


Immigration law is deceptive.  The government makes available all the forms for various immigration processes on its website, www.uscis.gov.  A lot of people look at the forms and conclude there is nothing very complicated about filing out the forms: The questions seem simple and straightforward.  So they decide they do not need an attorney to help them.  In some instances, people succeed, but often, they run into difficulties and belatedly realize they need the help of an immigration attorney.  At that point, one of two things happens: either the case has become much more complicated than it originally was and so is more expensive to fix, or the situation becomes impossible to fix and there is nothing any immigration attorney.   Both problems happen because the instructions for the various forms on the USCIS website do not cover every possible interpretation of immigration laws nor do they fully explain the implications of responses to certain questions.  


There is never any requirement that you hire an immigration attorney, but at least give yourself the benefit of a consulation before starting anything by yourself.  Sometimes, that advice at least prevents a worse situation that either is much more expensive to fix or cannot be fixed.  


How do I choose an immigration attorney?


There is lots of choice when it comes to choosing an immigration attorney, especially considering that an immigration attorney licensed in one State can practice in any State.  The following are some factors to take into consideration:


1) How long has the attorney been practicing immigration law?  


More experience increases the chances of a good outcome.  Immigration law is the second most complicated area of law.  Someone who has not practiced immigration law for very long will not know all the complexities.  If the attorney's website does not indicate how many years of experience, then ask.


2) How many other areas of law is the attorney handling?


Immigration law is not only complicated, it is a very large body of law.  If someone is doing 3 or more other areas of law in addition to immigration law, then the chances are good, they may not be up to date on immigration law.  The best immigration attorneys are doing only immigration law.


3) How many times has the attorney handled a situation similiar to yours?


The more times an attorney has handled a situation similar to yours, the more experience and familiarity the attorney has.  This goes in your favor as the attorney will be better able to anticipate potential problems and take action to avoid or overcome the problems.


4) Recommendations


Recommendations from people you know is a good way to choose an attorney.  At Blackwell Law Group, most new clients come to use through friends and family members.  


You may also find recommendations from satisfied clients on the attorney's website or on other third party websites.  


5) How at ease do you feel with the attorney?


You will be working closely with the attorney you choose, possibly for a prolonged period of time.  If you do not feel at ease, this will make for challenging times.  What makes people feel at ease varies.  Some people want to feel like the attorney who seems interested in them and is friendly.  Others place more value on how much effort the attorney puts into explaining legal processes and concepts without relying on jargon.  Some don't care about anything other than how much the attorney charges.


6)  Fees


Some people choose attorney solely based on fees.  While costs are an important consideration, they should not be your only criteria.  Sometimes, low fees reflect lack of experience.   If that lack of experience means your case gets denied, then choosing the cheapest attorney ends up being a false economy.  Other times low fees mean the attorney will have too many cases and not enough time to get the work done, causing delays in your case.  Sometimes delays are not important, but sometimes they are very important.  Know what is important to you.  


When you consider fees, also think about how the attorney expects to be paid.  Does the attorney offer payment plans?  Payment plans help make attorney fees more affordable.  Does the attorney bill on a flat fee basis or an hourly basis?  Flat fee billing means you know exactly what your legal expenses will be and can budget accordingly.  Most immigration attorneys work on a flat fee basis.


Do I need an appointment to see the attorney?


Yes.  This ensures the attorney is in the office and available to meet with you.  You do not need an appointment if you are coming in to drop off a payment or documents, though you still should phone in advance to ensure someone is here in the office to help you.


Do you charge for the first consulation?


Yes. However, if there is nothing the attorney can do to help you, the consulation fee is not collected.  If there is something the attorney can do, you will receive a quote for her services.  If you hire her, then the consulation fee will be applied toward your attorney fees.


Do you do telephone or video conference consultations?


We are willing to offer telephone or video conferencing for the initial consulation only for clients who live more than 50 miles from our office.  If the first consultation is done by phone or video conference, then the consultation fee must be paid in advance.  We use Skype for video conferencing.


After the initial consultation, most interactions with the attorney will be by phone or e-mail.  You do not have to come to the office to sign applications.  We do like to see clients one last time prior to any interview at a government office.


How are the attorney's fees set?


Blackwell Law Group mostly works on a flat fee basis.  After reviewing the facts your facts, the attorney determines what work needs to be done and gives a quote for that work.  The quote covers everything needed to deal with the case, assuming nothing unexpected happens.  If somehting unexpected happens (e.g. the case gets denied and has to be appealled), the attorney will give you a separate quote for the extra work.


The exception to flat fee work is immigration court cases.  These are billed on a per hearing and a per process basis because there is a considerable uncertainty about what might be needed and how long the case will go on.  Often cases go on for 3-5 years and the bulk of the work does not happen until very close to the end.  We will always be able to give at least 12 months notice for processes that will be complex and time-intensive (e.g. trial preparation) and 3 months notice for brief court appearances.


How long is a quote valid?


The quote of attorney fees is valid for one year.  The quote of filing fees is valid until the government increases the filing fees.


When does the attorney start work on my case?


The attorney begins work on your case after receiving your initial payment, as set out in the quote for services that you will get the the initial consultation.  Some clients make that payment at the intial consultation.  Others make it when they are ready to start, which could be a matter of days or sometimes months.


How do I pay my attorney fees?


You can pay with cash or by check, money order, or PayPal.  We do not take credit cards at this time.


How do I pay for government filing fees?


We prefer checks made payable to US Department of Homeland Security.  In some instances, we may direct you to pay a filing fee online.


Do you offer payment plans?


Yes.  Most clients use payment plans for their legal expenses.  The terms of your payment plan will be outlined in the quote you get at your initial consultation.


What happens if I fall behind on my payment plan?


We understand that sometimes clients run into financial difficulties.  We are happy to revise the terms of payment plan.  If we feel that a client is not making a good faith effort to comply even with a revised payment plan, then we we terminate representation.


How long will it take to complete my case?


This depends on what needs to be done.  Some types of cases may complete in as little as 6 months.  Others could take several years.  Your attorney will advise you about likely processing times.