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Which id better if i get a lawyer or do it myself? What are the forms in order of their filing? How much is an estimated cost?

Baltimore, MD |

I am an out of status F-1 student. I married my girlfriend of 2 years and this April we will be married for a year. She is an American born citizen. I want to file for my papers but I don't know which one I need to file first or how much will it cost to hire a lawyer for the whole process. I want to hire a lawyer but I have no problem doing it on my own if I get proper advice and list of forms I need to file in order.

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Attorney answers 5


Find an attorney who will give you a list of documents, prepare all of your documents and will guide you through the entire process.

This is not legal advice and a client attorney relationship is not created. For a free consultation call (718)234-5588.


While it can be possible to do an application like this on your own without issues, you cannot always predict what problems could come up throughout the process. An immigration lawyer with experience in these applications will be able to guide you through potential pitfalls and help make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible. My office handles these kinds of applications if you are interested in more information.

The information offered is general in nature and not meant to be relied upon as legal advice. No client-attorney relationship is created through this information. Please consult an attorney prior to making legal decisions.


Consult a lawyer before you file! To answer your question -

You'll need the gov. fee of $1,490, the forms: I-130, I-485, G-325A (you), G-325A (your wife), I-765, and I-864, as well as the following supporting documents:

From the beneficiary:
• 4 photos (2x2 inches or 5x5 centimeters, color, white background);
• Copy of State issued ID or Driver’s License (if you have one);
• Medical Examination; see attached list of doctors or to find one near you -
• Copy of Foreign passport (biographic information page only);
• Copy of I-94 Departure Record (both sides) (this is a small white card stapled to your passport);
• Copies of all U.S. entry visas and pages from passport with U.S. admission stamps;
• Copy of birth certificate (with a certified English translation if not in English);
• Copy of Prior divorce decrees (if any, with certified English translations if not in English);
• IF EVER arrested, cited, detained, charged, received probation, convicted, etc. – certified copies of arrest reports and all court records.
- Also copy of your I-20 and school transcripts to show that you did attend school.

From the petitioner (your wife):
• 2 photos of the petitioner (2x2 inches or 5x5 centimeters, color, white background);
• State issued ID or Driver’s License (if you have one);
• Petitioner’s proof of U.S. Citizenship (U.S. birth certificate or U.S. passport if a U.S. born citizen; if naturalized citizen, provide the Certificate of Naturalization);
• Marriage Certificate;
• Prior divorce decrees (if any, with certified English translations if not in English);
• Federal income tax return statement (IRS Form 1040 or 1040EZ) for the most recent tax year with all applicable schedules;
• W-2(s) (or 1099/1099-R) for the most recent tax year;
• Last pay stub;


It may be possible to do it yourself, but I find that clients are relieved to know there is someone there who is experienced, knowledgeable, and can hold their hand during the stressful process. What people don't realize is how stressful the process is and how many little questions come up. This is where an attorney can really help.

(626) 771-1078 Los Angeles Attorney Theodore Huang, Esq. This is not legal advice. No attorney/client relationship is established. Attorney Huang is licensed in MD; practice limited to federal law.


You could try to do it on your own. But like with every other immigration application, it's always advisable to retain an experienced immigration attorney to advise you and prepare the necessary documentation. Better safe than sorry.

The statement above does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is intended as general information only and it is not a substitute for legal advice. You should consult with a licensed attorney to discuss the specific facts and circumstances of your case.