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After some research and a couple of free consultations, my fiancée and I have decided that we will apply for a K-1 visa for me (Italian wanting to emigrate to the USA). We were mostly set on hiring an immigration lawyer, but a common friend who has gone through the process suggested that it's not necessary and we should maybe save that money.

We do have the money to pay for both the Visa and a lawyer, but saving $2000+ is still not something we would be fully opposed to. I have read the step by step guide for the application process multiple times and it doesn't seem impossible. On the other hand I have been known not to be the best person to work my way through bureaucracy and we have heard some less than happy stories of mistakes or imprecisions, that led to relevant amounts of extra money spent to fix the issue, or even to the revocation of immigrant status.

Is the lawyer's fee - flat fee by the way, which helps at least - worth it, or are we being overly cautions? I would ideally like to hear from people who have gone through the same process without assistance from a lawyer, but anyone's informed opinion is welcome!

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    You're smart, you're articulate, you're multilingual, you have a longstanding relationship with your US-citizen fiancée, I'd suggest you make the application on your own; save the $2k for the celebration. – Giorgio Mar 17 '17 at 16:30
  • She was already in the US when we became involved so there was no reason for a fiance visa, just the actual green card application. No lawyer, we had some understandable hassles with them thinking the marriage was fraudulent (childfree, she's older than I am) but in the end she got her green card. Admittedly, this was more than a quarter century ago. – Loren Pechtel Mar 18 '17 at 0:02
  • @LorenPetchel were those solved by giving sufficient proof that the relationship was genuine? That part should be easy enough for us, we have 4 and a half years of plane tickets, photos and the like. – Michele C Mar 20 '17 at 8:32
  • @LorenPechtel as someone who occasionally misses pings because of incorrect spelling, I am moved to ping you about the previous comment. – phoog Mar 20 '17 at 19:23
  • You have an awful lot more evidence than we did. I hadn't boarded a plane for 4 years at that point and didn't board a plane with her for about 10 years after that. And I'm almost always the one behind the camera, not in front of it. (This was back in the era of film, also--not the casual photography we do these days.) I understand why they were suspicious, although our initial interviewer sure didn't help--she was a bitter old maid and my wife is exactly her age but looks much younger and caught a younger man. – Loren Pechtel Mar 20 '17 at 22:45
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I have actually used the lawyers myself. I have experienced both the good and bad of it. My frank recommendation is it can go either way. A quick recommendation is to use this site - https://www.avvo.com/ to check the lawyers recommendations to find a good lawyer that can work with you.

  • Is the lawyers fee a flat fee? For an application type thing it usually is, unless you need the lawyer on a retainer basis. That happens in cases which keep going on for many years and you need to keep following up on filings. I would just be upfront with them and ask for the detailed information, how much they would charge, how much time they would take. Just get a complete idea of how they will work your case. If possible do not pay the whole money in advance, spread it out through the process.
  • In terms of immigration I usually like to err on the side of caution. I was advised by others that I was overdoing it by going to the lawyers etc but these were the same people who had done immigration mistakes by not consulting the professionals.
  • I would ask myself how important is it for you to immigrate to the US. if this is something you are ok with that gets delayed due to any filing mistakes or misunderstanding and happy to do endless followups so be it.
  • I have heard of so many cases where a simple mistake drags the case forever.

Thus yes the lawyers do mess it up more often than not, so do your research. If possible get a Board Certified lawyer which is specialized in your field.

Also all the free resources that I came along during my process I added to this blog here so feel free to take a look there.

  • We ended up going with a lawyer, the petition was filed a month ago and now we're mostly just hoping for the quickest possible turnaround! – Michele C Aug 8 '17 at 23:58
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    All the best @MicheleC – pal4life Aug 9 '17 at 0:01

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