Should I hire a lawyer, an agent, or process the visa myself?
Only you can answer that question. I will explain the differences to help you come to your own conclusion.
Hiring a lawyer. Most lawyers will charge anywhere from $2000 to $7000+ to process a simple fiancé or spousal visa, even more if there are complications involved, such as children, multiple petitions, co-sponsors, etc. We get many inquiries from people who have hired lawyers, wanting information on the interview process. This is because these lawyers will often only FILE the petition for $2000, they know very little about the process at the individual embassy interview level. Each embassy has slightly different requirements. What is worse, usually these lawyers never even look at your petition, they have their paralegals do it for them. So while you may be paying the lawyer $300+ per hour, he is paying someone $10/hr to actually submit your petition. Once it leaves the NVC, you are dropped cold, that is where their assistance ends. However, the filing of the visa is the easy part, preparing proper documentation and preparing for the interview is more complicated, and more important. Some of the biggest errors, and the simplest errors to prevent, were done by people who had hired lawyers, and by doing so thought they would be taken care of to the end. A lawyer cannot “speed up” the process any more than someone who has done proper research, nor can a lawyer “guarantee” you a visa. So unless your case is very complicated, hiring a lawyer may create problems for you that you might not have had doing it yourself.
Can I do it myself?
Again, only you can answer that question. I would like to tell you that you that you need hire us. However, truthfully speaking almost anyone can do this process and get through it on their own, The only question is this, how many times do you want to do this and how much time and money do you want to spend trying to do something that you are only going to do once in your life? Do you really want her here with you NOW or can you wait to correct any mistakes that you could make during the process? There is a lot of information available on the internet, much of it is just plain wrong put up by some one that wants to be an expert that may have done his own paperwork and gotten it done successfully. Did this supposed expert tell you that he spent many dollars and it took him 2 or three years to get it done? There is a lot of bad info out there, so expect to spend considerable time doing your research. Keep in mind that each small error or omission will cost many months of additional time.
Should I use an agent?
While hiring a lawyer is very expensive and can cause problems of it’s own, hiring the right agent can remove most of the stress from the process, and assure you the least amount of problems along the way. What should you look for in an agent? You should look for an agent that specializes in the type of visa you are applying for, and from the country you want to immigrate from. Immigration laws can be very complex, and someone who specializes can stay abreast of all the current changes and requirements for specific visas from specific countries. Beware of agents that tell you they have a proven track record in dealing with the U.S. Embassy in Manila and have built a strong, professional relationship with the U.S. Embassy staff. By saying this they are trying to imply that they have connections at the embassy, let me make this one point perfectly clear when someone tells you this, they are lying as no one has any pull with the embassy. Beware of agents who process many types of visas and/or visas from many countries, as there is way too much information for an individual or a small company to stay abreast of. Beware of agents who have little track record, or those that advertise they can guarantee a visa (Nobody can guarantee you a visa). Beware of those whose prices seem too low, or use pushy sales tactics. Stay away from those who claim to be “high volume”, high volume generally can be translated into little personal service. Also beware of trick pricing, many agents will quote you a fee for filing the visa, and like many lawyers will leave you hanging after that, or charge separate fees for each additional stage of the process. So be sure you are comparing apples to apples, not comparing one agent’s quote for full service start to finish against another agent’s fee for filing of the petition only. Ask if the price includes adjustment of status after arrival in the US. Ask if the price includes interview preparation.
So look for an agent that specializes in the types of visa you are applying for, and processes only visas from the country you are immigrating from, preferably an agent who lives in the country you are immigrating from and has native language capabilities, to be close at hand when it comes interview time, as that is when you are going to need help the most.