People often ask this – people are used to processing immigration through lawyers because the process seems complex and lawyers are “trained experts” – right? So you can improve your chances by using a lawyer when you won the DV lottery – right?
Well in DV lottery cases, the answer is almost always NO. Allow me to explain.
Hopefully you have read my post on the difference between Consular Processing (CP) and Adjustment of Status (AoS). So let me explain why I think you should not be using a lawyer in each of those cases.
CP cases – processing at a US embassy outside of the USA
Biggest reason to not use a lawyer – because the forms and process are both VERY simple. The DS260 is the application for the visa and people all around the world have managed to fill that in with limited English skills and so on. Honestly, a lawyer is not needed to fill in the forms.
Perhaps a lawyer can pull some strings to make the case go faster or make my case more likely to be approved? No absolutely not! The cases are processed according to a predetermined order (the case number) and then scheduled by KCC. You lawyer in London/Paris/Nairobi or wherever has no connections at KCC. None.
So – if you can fill in the simple paperwork, and if you meet the requirements and so on you do not need a lawyer. If you have lied on your forms, or proceed with a fake marriage, then yes – having a lawyer would then be a good idea – to defend you against the charges of immigration fraud.
AoS cases – processing within the USA at a Field Office
Well, it is true that AoS cases can be slightly more complex to process. The forms are slightly more complicated (not difficult, just a bit more detailed) and the process is more daunting. Also, many people that are already In the USA may have used a lawyer to get their temporary visa. So – people are predisposed to hiring a lawyer to get expert help.
However, the vast majority of immigration lawyers in the USA will have never seen a DV lottery based case. Never. How can that be?
Well let’s do some math.
There are around 1 million new immigrants every year. Of those, 50,000 are DV cases. Of the 50,000, AoS cases are around 2000 of those cases – that is around 0.2% of the total. The majority of those are handled without a lawyer, so I would guess that lawyers are involved in maybe 100 to 200 cases a year – perhaps 3000 cases over the whole 20+ years that the DV lottery has been running. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has around 12,000 members, so it is obvious that the majority of lawyers would never have seen a DV case. So – if you want to pay a lawyer $300 per hour to learn on the job, that is your choice, but I have better ways to spend my money.
Oh, and do they help. Well in the majority of DV cases I have known where a lawyer was involved they have not only not improved the process timing, they have actually made things worse. Their lack of DV specific knowledge means they do not understand things such as the early filing policy, or the DV requirements, or the importance of adhering to the DV timelines.
Seriously. If you are considering hiring a lawyer to help on your case, please just go outside and tip a bucket of cold water on your head and send the money you will save to charity.
My blog, and other great resources on the internet are all you need to process your case – don’t waste your money.
won the DV lottery