Budgeting for a Green Card
The dream of obtaining a green card is one that brings many immigrants to America, and has for hundreds of years. Lawful permanent residency combined with the ability to become naturalized, which is to say to become a full and legal American citizen, is something that few countries in the world offer. However, many people who think about the work involved in obtaining a green card only think about the work they will need to put into processing, revising, and preparing their applications. Many forget that when filing most legal documents in America, many fees apply at every stage of the process. The dream of obtaining a green card may be more expensive than the applicant has previously believed, and being prepared for all fees in advance will help to ensure that there are no unexpected hiccups on the way to becoming a legal permanent resident of the USA.
One of the first and largest fees that is necessary to pay is the consular application fee. This varies greatly according to the status and application status of the applicant, but in general this fee runs between $200 and $500. If the applicant is intending to apply for a green card and has a family member already living in the country that will vouch for and apply with the applicant, the fee is a much more manageable $230. If, however, the applicant is being sponsored for a green card by an employer with no relationship to the applicant, the fee could be as high as $480. Be aware that these fees will be assessed in advance to prepare yourself for any surprises.
Another commonly overlooked fee is that of the attorney’s fee. First of all, it is not necessary to hire an attorney in order to facilitate the acceptance of your permanent resident status. However, an attorney may be able to expedite the process and correct any errors before they get too far into the process. This can save you a great deal of money in the long run. If you apply several times and your application is continually rejected, you’ll still be charged consular fees every time. Many attorneys specialize in green card cases, and are willing to quote a flat fee. Others simply charge an hourly rate. Be aware that a lawyer’s fees generally start at about $150 an hour. If you want to know what a lawyer can do for you, check out a legal review site, such as LegalZoom reviews, which deals with many subjects relating to law and immigration. You can also call around to see who offers free consultations. Not all lawyers will offer a free consultation – most of which usually last about an hour. Those who do, though, can provide valuable insight.
While consular fees and attorney’s fees are two of the largest fees that you may wind up paying, don’t count on escaping other fees along the way as well. Other miscellaneous fees you may encounter include the fees to obtain police and legal certificates from your home country.