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In this week's article, I am presenting a mixture of topics, including some news about immigration increasing their fees on applications, and a more personal piece I call "Election Time: Talk is Cheap".  In my next article, I will most likely return to my usual writing style of covering important law issues and responding to email questions. 


Yes, Immigration may be increasing their fees soon!  Maybe next month! On May 4, 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security published a notice proposing an increase in immigration application fees by an average of 21%. This increase is necessary, they say, in order to cover the costs of providing services and for improving processing and technology. Examples of the increase will include, but not be limited to, raising the fee to apply for a green card up 16% from $985 to $1,140. And for those needing the entire application packet (including $85 biometrics fee and the petition for alien relative), it'll go from $1,490 to at least $1,645!  For those seeking to apply for citizenship, the fee will be raised from $595 to $640, not including a separate, additional $85 biometics fee if necessary (or more if they increase this biometrics fee too!), which would result in the total being $725. This is just a glimpse of what is to come. *Although this fee increase is not yet set in stone, I'm pretty sure this increase will take effect. Immigration has published these types of notices before and have gone through with them. So...for those of you that have been thinking about applying for some type of immigration benefit, be it a green card application, naturalization/citizenship, or something else, I suggest you act now and lock up the price before immigration hikes these fees up!


Election time is fast approaching. The results are very important not only for us, but for future generations. I hope that those of you who are U.S. Citizens, are registered and will go out and cast your vote for President of the United States when the time comes. Like everyone else, I have been watching the Presidential Debates between Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump and Democratic Nominee Hillary Clinton. And as interesting as it is, I can't help but think how they both are making a lot of promises. Take for example, Donald Trump. He was on stage promising to make "America Great Again" once he becomes president. To make America great, he promised this and that, and the other. And while listening to his address to those in attendance, to the national tv viewers, and even viewers in foreign countries who undoubtedly must have been watching, all I could think about was the old saying: "Talk is cheap". I don't know where it originated from, but the phrase itself basically means that people can say anything they want, but when it comes down to it, very little is actually done. By bringing this up, I'm not saying that Donald Trump is the only one doing this, or that he wouldn't live up to his promises (although I doubt he can, given the countless promises he's made and the obstacles he'll undoubtedly face). A lot of people make promises that they hardly ever deliver. The reason why is because talk is cheap. It doesn't cost you any money. Anyone can say anything. For example, and unfortunately, this has happened to many of you readers or to someone you know. You go and see a tanat or an attorney about your immigration issue. They are kind and speak to you nicely. They say something like: "Don't worry...I can get you your green card. No problem. I'll get you your green card, your work permit, your travel permit so you can go visit Thailand and come back.  I'll handle everything."  Sounds good, right? Of course!  ...But try to contact them after you've paid them. See how different you'll be treated, that's even if they will talk to you. And worse yet is if a problem comes up with your case. (Although attorneys are better than tanats at handling problems that arise, its not by much). Why this sudden change in how they treat you? Again, it's because talk is cheap. It doens't take any more effort or time to be nice to you in the beginning, because their motive is to get your money. I know this is true because I've handled a lot of cases that have come to me after a problem comes up and either (a) a tanat doesn't know what to do next and says he's not responsible for it, or (b) a lawyer doesn't know or want to take on the extra work. There's a difference between getting your money, and earning your fee. Unlike the aforementioned, I take my word very seriously. I don't overpromise and's not in my nature nor in my character. Having my last name of Chitmongran, I come from a family of hardworkers, therefore I have a duty to work with focus and determination. I know you can't please everyone, all the time. They'll always be those that feel they didn't get what they wanted. However, with any of my past clients, no one can say that I promised something and then didn't deliever. The reason why is because I'm upfront from the start. If you have a difficult case, I'll tell you that you have a difficult case. I won't sugar coat it and give you a false sense of hope. I'll tell you like it is, give you options, and once you decide, assist you in the best way I can in order to achieve what's in your best interest. So going back to Donald Trump and everyone else out there that makes promises: Please remember what you said and deliver on what you promised. By doing that, you'll help those that relied on your word. After all, your word should mean more than just words.


For those of you facing a legal matter and need to hire a lawyer, you often have a lot of questions. One important question that undoubtedly comes up revolves around the attorney's fee: How will the attorney charge you? To answer this, I will give you a brief overview of the different ways an attorney can structure his fee arrangement, as well as give an example to further illustrate that concept. 

With an attorney, you can have a flat-fee, a retainer, or contingency fee arrangement (And in some circumstances, a combination of those). In addition to any filing fees, or court fees, if your case requires appearances, experts and/or other professional consultants, then these are additional fees and costs you must consider. Please be sure to ask your attorney so that you fully understand the costs of your case.

Flat Fee - With a flat fee, the attorney charges you a stated fee for the work to be done. Nothing more, nothing less. Example: You need to legally change your name. The attorney quotes you a flat-fee of $1,000, including filing fee. This means, that to change your name, it'll cost you a total of $1,000. Nothing more, nothing less.

Retainers - This arrangement requires prepayment of a stated amount, which will be deposited and held in a trust account for your benefit. Whenever the lawyer works on your case, he will then deduct the agreed hourly rate against this trust. This type of arrangement is usually used by the attorney when the services to be performed are not common, and/or when the fees, costs and/or time of the case tends to be difficult to estimate in advance, such as in divorce cases and business negotiations. Example: Let's say in a divorce case, the attorney charges you a $5,000 retainer and his hourly rate is $250/hour. He works 7 hours on your case.  Therefore, he is entitled to $250 X 7 hours = $1,750.  Let's say court costs and other expenses was $850. This brings the total costs of your case to $1,750 + $850 = $2,600.  Because you had given him a $5,000 retainer, the attorney should refund you the remaining $2,400 still left in the trust ($5,000 Retainer - $2,600 Attorney's Fee & Costs).

Contingency Fees - In this type of arrangement, the attorney collects a % of the award if and only when he recovers. This type of fee is generally standard in personal injury cases. Example: You were involved in a car accident and suffered not only damage to your car, but you also suffered a broken leg. Your attorney takes your case under a contingency fee at 30%. The attorney is able to eventually negotiate a settlement in your favor for the total amount of $100,000. Your medical bills were $10,000. Experts cost $5,000. Filing fees and other court costs were $3,000. ...Therefore, expenses in your case totalled $18,000. The attorney advanced this amount on your behalf, therefore this gets deduced from the settlement recovery amount: $100,000 - $18,000 = $82,000. The attorney gets 30% of this remainder amount, or $24,600, you get $57,400

Well...I hope you enjoyed this week's read. It was a little different from my usual style but I hope it was still informative and interesting. Again, for those of you thinking about applying for some type of immigration benefit, I advise you to do it soon. The prices will be going up in the near future. Also, in my next article, I will be covering immigration's policy of coming to your house for an investigation: the "site visit".

If you still have questions, or just want to comment on this article, you can always contact me. Please do not hesitate to contact my office should you need legal assistance at (818) 846-5639 , or to speak to my Thai assistant, "Pat" call (818) 505-4921. If you have any questions that you would like to be answered in future articles, please email me at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or see my revamped website at: WWW.JC4LAW.COM for general information regarding this and many other topics in Business, Property and Family Law.

Disclaimer: The information contained herein have been prepared for informational purposes only and are not to be considered legal advice unless otherwise specified. All opinions expressed are those of the author and in no way shall be associated with Sereechai Newspaper. If you have a specific question regarding your personal case, please contact the Law Offices of Joseph Chitmongran for a full consultation.