Can I afford a lawyer to enforce the Form I-864?
Paying for an experienced lawyer is expensive. And our firm has more experience in I-864 litigation than any other law firm in the United States. But we are able to represent our clients at zero upfront cost. Our clients get the best legal assistance available anywhere in the country without paying a single dollar to begin their case.
Disclaimer: This page is created to help readers understand the general terms on which we offer legal services to clients. The terms of our representation of any specific client are governed by the legal services agreement signed by this firm and the client.
How does Immigration Support Advocates help?
Clients usually come to our law firm at one of the worst times of the life. Usually a marriage has failed. A divorce has been filed. Often there has been violence against our client. Our client has no money, and no where to get help.
We are that help.
If an immigrant separates from the I-864 sponsor, and that sponsor pays the legally required support, that person does not need our help. This law firm exists because sponsors often refuse to pay legally required support. Our clients end up homeless and hungry.
Our law firm is here for clients who need the best legal team in the country to enforce their I-864 sponsorship rights. We will use the full authority of federal law to ensure that our clients are cared for. If a sponsor is willing to talk then we will negotiate the best possible settlement for our client. If the sponsor refuses to talk, that is a mistake. We will use every tool available to enforce our client's rights in court.
What do you charge to represent clients?
Our law firm represents clients who have little or no income. They cannot afford to pay $400 per hour for a lawyer. Instead, we represent most of our clients on what is called a "contingency fee" basis. This means that we are paid only if we recover money from the sponsor/defendant.
If we win case for a client, our firm receives 40% of the damages (support money) that we recover for a client. This 40% figure is the standard for U.S. law firms that represent clients on a contingency basis. Our firm will also recover hourly legal fees, whether through settlement negotiations or court judgment. The hourly fees must be paid in full before our clients are able to recover their financial support.
What are some examples of how this would work?
Example 1: Our firm has incurred hourly fees totaling $20,000 while representing Client. Defendant agrees to settle Client's claim for $30,000, with an additional $20,000 specifically allocated to attorney fees. $20,000 is paid to our firm to cover hourly fees, with the remaining $30,000 being split between Client (who receives $18,000) and our firm (who receives $12,000).
Example 2: Our firm has incurred hourly fees totaling $15,000 while representing Client. Defendant agrees to a lump settlement of $20,000. $15,000 is allocated to our firm's hourly fees, with the remainder split between Client (who receives $3,000) and our firm (who receives $2,000).
Example 3: Our firm has incurred hourly fees totaling $75,000 litigating Client's case in federal court. The Court awards $75,000 in legal fees and enters judgment in the amount of $50,000. Payments or from the Defendant are applied first to our firm's $75,000 fees. Subsequent payments are then apportioned between Client and our firm at a ratio of 6:4 until Client receives $30,000 and our firm receives $20,000.
Isn't my sponsor responsible for my attorney fees?
Yes, an I-864 sponsor is responsible for paying your legal fees if you have to enforce the contract in court. That is why we are able to offer representation at no upfront cost to our clients. But even though our clients are entitled to their attorney fees, there is no guarantee that our law firm will ever be paid, even if we win a case. A defendant can become bankrupt, leave the country, or make it impossible for us to recover money for our client. This s true even if we have successfully litigated a case to a good judgment for our client.
For this reason, our firm takes a standard 40% contingency fee of the award we recover for our clients. Without this additional fee, our firm would not be able to take on these risky cases.
What costs am I responsible for?
Our clients are responsible for paying the out-of-pocket costs of litigation. If we are able to negotiate a settlement of a case before filing a lawsuit then our clients normally have zero out-of-pocket costs. If we are forced to file the lawsuit, the first cost is the federal court filing fee of $400. For some clients, that will be the only cost. The next substantial cost - if a case continues without settlement - is a court reporter cost for a legal interview of the defendant, which can be roughly $1,000-$2,000 dollars. Our law firm may be able to loan some of the costs to our clients based on the law in the State where our client lives.
We will seek to recover the costs of the lawsuit through settlement or through a court order if needed. This means that the client should ultimately be repaid for any costs spent on the lawsuit.
Does this mean I only get 60% of the support that I am owed?
Without a doubt, the best situation is if your I-864 sponsor will simply pay you the support that you are due. But we are here for clients whose I-864 sponsors refuse to pay support. Most of our clients will never receive a single dollar of support unless they receive skilled legal assistance. Likewise, if we never win a support payments for our clients we are not paid for our work. We work to recover the maximum possible support for our clients, who then have that additional money to build their new life.