Price-wise, I do not see much of a problem. Information-wise, you might be misunderstanding some of what he says. My general approach is very pragmatic - you find an attorney you feel comfortable with. That should include some research, recommendations, credentials, reviews and personal interview with the attorney. View it as a job interview. You are hiring someone to work for you. Once you chose, stick to the lawyer and do not second guess his decisions. It is very difficult environment -...
The two offices that serve NYC arrea had some difficult times. as a result some people ended up in a limbo and are waiting longer than usually. Hiring an immigration attorney would be a good idea. But then, it is a must if you are t have a chance in getting a positive result on an asylum claim.
The three years starts on the date you became a lawful permanent resident and includes any time as a conditional resident. You calculate the three-year period using the resident since date on your green card. The 18 months is total during the past 3 years. It does not need to be consecutive. However, absences of six months do cause a problem.
You must count your husband's income since the household income is what counts. Your mother's income can be used only if she worked for six months or more legally. I completely disagree with my colleague. You can use the house if the value of the house minus the loan amount rises up to the 5X of the statutory income required for the household of your size. Reference USCIS form I864P for more specific guidance on the required income.