U.S. Visas & Immigration
Copyright & Trademark
Copyright Claims Board
Frequently Asked Questions
General Service Questions
I just have a quick legal question to ask. How do I get an answer?
We are happy to address your quick legal questions via a “Quick Question Consult.” This is an up to
30-minute phone call or video chat for a fee of $80, or a 1-hour phone call or video chat for $150,
where you can get your quick questions answered.
Why pay for a consultation to have an attorney answer my questions when I can google the answers?
Great question. A couple of reasons:
First, if you are reading this far, there is a good chance you think you need a lawyer’s expertise. Google may not be giving you the clear or correct answers you need.
Second, searching the internet or crowdsourcing legal advice in Facebook groups or on your personal Facebook feed, via tweet or any other social media avenue is a good way to be led astray and even create more issues for you if you follow bad advice. This type of advice is untrustworthy and can create more expensive problems down the road if you take such advice and need to hire an attorney to fix it later. It is important to keep in mind that frequently, advice that may apply to one person’s situation may be very different for your own.
I say this from personal observation in numerous Facebook groups where bad legal advice is handed out by non-lawyers. Immigration-related “bad” advice can have very real and life-long consequences for the person who uses it. Copyright and Trademark can have expensive consequences, including a resulting lawsuit against you or your business that often times can be prevented.
Would you rather pay a bit now for a consultation to make sure you’re on the right track, even to confirm what you’ve heard from others or found on Google, or pay a lot more later to fix a situation worsened by bad legal advice?
Okay, but once I have the consultation, you’re going to tell me it will be really expensive to hire you, so what’s the point?
Nope. No further engagement required. If all you want is your questions answered, we can do that. If you want to consider hiring the Firm to help you with your legal matter, we will definitely provide you with a quote for our services after our consultation, if we determine we can help you (we are a business after all, and like you, we like making money). What you will not get is pressure or high hourly rates that will nickel and dime you.
Our goal is to give you transparency in our pricing, so you know what you will pay before you incur fees, and keep our fees as affordable as possible. That being said, our fees reflect the expertise, time, and tasks that go into dealing with the kinds of legal matters we handle.
Why can’t I get a free consultation first?
For attorneys to provide legal advice, there needs to be an attorney-client relationship. This is part of our ethical duties to be allowed to practice law. Such a relationship is formed when an agreement to take on a case occurs, in the form of a written agreement + payment for services.
In addition, our time is valuable. The unfortunate truth is that a lot of people shop for free legal advice until they find the answer that suits them, or schedule a "free" consultation and do not show up or call to cancel. This takes away time we have committed to the legal issues of our clients who have engaged us to take on their issues.
We are always happy to answer questions about our attorney's background, the types of services we offer or any other general service-related questions prior to scheduling a consultation.
This is why we charge a fee for our consultations, and are happy to apply this fee to any legal fee balance for services you do hire us for in relationship to your case on which we consulted, within 60 days of the initial consultation.
A lawyer’s service is to advise, guide and advocate for our clients to attain certain outcomes. The doctor doesn't do a free consult, the therapist doesn't do free therapy, the plumber and AC repair man charge a call out fee and then charge you for the actual service.
Why are Immigration fees higher than other consultation fees for other practice areas?
Immigration consultations required a deep dive into any number of factors in a noncitizens specific situation before an experienced immigration attorney can decide to take on a case. Business immigration can involve discussions with an employer and the employee. There are critical details an attorney needs during the consultation to provide competent advice. This takes time to have this discussion. We also want to make sure a potential immigration client is comfortable in disclosing any information necessary and that an attorney-client relationship is formed for confidentiality purposes.
We are happy to apply this fee to any legal fee balance for services you do hire us for in relationship to your case on which we consulted, within 60 days of the initial consultation.
How do you determine what fees to charge?
Our fees reflect the expertise, time, and tasks that go into dealing with the kinds of legal matters we handle. What might seem like “just filling out a form” or “writing a letter” to you, is much more involved if you want it handled right.
Our formula in determining a flat fee involves starting with our hourly billable rate, considering how many hours the average case type takes (this is based on experience), and factor in any circumstances that would make the scope of work take longer or be more complex than the average case. We also factor in all communications with the attorney, shipping and printing costs, and any other fees a law firm might typically incur on behalf of a client. We arrive at one flat fee so we can tell you up front what the service you need will cost. And if there are uncertainties in the process, we will let you know how we will deal with those.
For example, when filing employment-based or artist-based (or any other) immigration filing, the forms are often the easiest part of the process to prepare an application. These filings usually end up being approximately 500, 1000, 2000 pages when the evidence is fully assembled. There is lengthy brief/cover letter writing that requires the attorney to address the elements of the law. In other words, how the beneficiary meets the numerous criteria under the law. There are recommendation letters, job descriptions, research, spreadsheets, experts, business plans, and even math (gasp!) that has to be done. These require painting a certain picture of qualifications for USCIS to give you the best chance at approval. This is all in addition to keeping up with ever-changing immigration laws so we can provide you the most competent service.
A demand letter or response to a demand letter involves discussions with the client, possibly opposing counsel to negotiate, legal research and document review, possibly an accounting of lost profits or other damages.
Do you offer payment plans?
We will always require some amount of payment upfront for your matter. We generally ask for payment in full. At minimum, 50% of the total flat fee is due up front, with the other 50% due before we file an immigration petition or other milestone that will be provided.
For immigration matters, we currently offer payment plans via a third party. It is very similar to Affirm or Afterpay or Quadpay or Klarna, where a third party will provide you a loan for your legal fees. This is up to the client to apply for this type of payment plan, review the terms, and accept it. By doing so, the client will be obligated to the lender to repay the funds. No one is required to use this service. It is offered as a convenient options for immigration clients where fees can sometimes be cost prohibitive.
Do you work on contingency, or offer refunds if my immigration petition is denied?
No. The bottom line is no one likes to work for free. If I go to the doctor, the doctor gets paid. If I ask an architect for a quote to remodel my house, I will pay for the work the architect puts into the quote. And attorneys do work for clients, providing a service and taking up their time and expertise, resulting in the desire to be paid for that work and expertise.
Contingency is where the attorney gets a percentage of a settlement or amount of money recovered in certain types of lawsuits or legal matters. Generally, this occurs in personal injury or similar types of suits. The reason those attorneys work on contingency is because the payouts are expected to be significant enough (and likely enough) to be worth the amount of legal work and time they will spend on your matter.
In Immigration and Copyright/Entertainment work, there are no large payouts at the end by another party to justify committing resources and time free on the front end. At Your Virtual Advocate, the types of copyright matters we work on tend to be smaller in nature. We make every effort to keep our flat fees affordable.
Immigration is an area of law that entirely relies on the whims of the US government after much of the legal work is finished. This is also why we offer no refunds and no guarantees on outcomes of your immigration case. We commit to putting together the most compelling case possible with the most likely chance of success and offer the highest level of competence we can provide in knowing and advising you on the ever-changing laws. Beyond that, it would be unethical to guarantee a certain outcome in your immigration matter.
We are proud of our 99% approval rating to date, but approval ratings have little value with each case dependent on the highly fact-specific nature of the individual's situation.
What types of Immigration Cases do you take?
At Your Virtual Advocate, we handle "business" or "employment" immigration cases. On occasion we will handle a marriage-based green card or family-related case. We mostly handle O-visas, P-visas, H-1Bs and employment based green cards 1st and 2nd preference, with a particular focus on national interest waivers (NIW). Our clients are extraordinary ability clients, most often in the film & TV industries, musicians, poets, experiential designers, & other creatives, entrepreneurs, and artificial intelligence engineers & other STEM-related fields.
We do not handle asylum, deportation, fiance visas, and most family cases. We will occasionally do pro bono work where world events call us to action like the war in Ukraine.
What is your approval rate on immigration cases?
We get asked this quite a bit and are happy to share that number (we have a 99% approval rate to date), but also remind our potential clients this number means very little. The very best immigration lawyer could have a low approval rate because that attorney takes on challenging cases with facts working against her and with little chance of success at the beginning, but because of that client's particular situation taking that case made sense, just as much as someone with a high approval rate might only take on the kinds of cases that are slam-dunks.
Each case relies on the facts of that specific situation. Things like the foreign nationals previous immigration history to the US, criminal record, resume, particulars about their education or employment history, and any number of other factors considered in the process can make an approval more or less likely. Another big factor is the current presidential administration and who is running the immigration agencies at the time. Some lawyers are more confident working on more challenging cases; others stick to the ones they know will be approved.
Our key to success is transparency with our clients. We talk openly about the likely outcomes, the challenges in the process we see, and if we do not think there is a path to success based on each potential client's set of facts. This is also why we change for consultations - It takes time to get to know the facts to provide transparent feedback.
Can I fill out the forms and hire you to "review" them before I submit to USCIS?
Generally, no. The immigration process is complex. Some believe it is simply "filling out forms." This is not the case, especially in employment-based immigration cases. We provide full-service representation before USCIS, an administrative agency. When an attorney signs a form representing a client and submits it to USCIS, we are taking on certain professional obligations that, if not met, can put us at risk of losing our law license. Additionally, the law requires an attorney to sign his or her name as a preparer, even when simply "reviewing" a form, which triggers our professional obligations. This is why many immigration attorneys will provide full-service representation only to ensure we are representing you, our clients, to the best of our abilities and with the highest level of professional responsibility.
Can we negotiate your legal fees?
Our fees are our fees. We set the fees based on our expertise, experience, and average number of hours a case similar to yours takes, and the quality and level of service we provide to our clients.
When deciding which attorney to hire to navigate you through your immigration process, it is essential you hire someone you feel is competent, will communicate with you about your case, who will be handling your case, and to look at whether the firm is an "immigration petition mill". While cost is important, and we understand this process can get expensive, this is an important part of your life, and cost should be a factor - but not necessarily the deciding factor.
A lesser legal fee does not always equal the same quality of service. Sometimes attorneys offer such low fees because they have paralegals handling your case. Other times it's because they churn out high volume. Do you want personal attention, an attorney working on your case, communication, and the best chance of success at your immigration filing? These are questions to ask and if you believe the lowest bidder also is the best attorney for you, that is the choice you should make. Only you can decide what is most important to you in this process. We stand ready to help should you choose us.
Why register my work with the U.S. Copyright Office if I have rights as soon as I create the work?
You do have a copyright ownership in your work as soon as it is fixed in a tangible medium. Registration provides 1) notice to the world at large that you are the owner of that copyright and 2) additional options to recover against infringement. Without registration, you also limit the time frame in which you can recover statutory damages for your work.
The new small claims tribunal, the CCB, requires your work to be registered to pursue an infringer or pursue rights under your copyright. They do, however, offer an expedited registration process that can be done at the time of filing a claim.
If there is something you created that you hope to one day publish, make money from, use for commercial purposes, or otherwise has value to you or others, registering it with the copyright office is recommended.
I used someone else’s copyright-protected work (photo, music, written work, etc.) without permission. I took it down. I am no longer liable for infringement?
Incorrect. While it is a positive factor you took down any creative works used without permission, it only stops the infringing act. It does not erase the fact you infringed a copyright during the time period you used the image, music, writing, or whatever it is you used. If the copyright owner wished to pursue a claim of infringement against you for the time you used the work, they still can for that period of unauthorized use. Taking it down puts an end point on the infringing conduct.
I can ignore a demand letter from Higbee, Picsart, or another entity or attorney claiming I infringed someone’s copyright and demanding payment to settle the infringement claim, right?
If you receive a letter accusing you of copyright infringement and demanding a sum of money to settle the claim, with threats of a lawsuit or further legal action, it is never a good idea to simply ignore it. It is a good idea to consult an attorney with copyright expertise who can look at your specific situation and advise you on how best to deal with the case at hand. If you did use an image or other creative work that you did not create and did not get permission to use, settling such a claim during the demand-letter stage is going to be less costly than if the claimant follows through on a federal lawsuit or a claim before the Copyright Claims Board. Additionally, with the proper legal guidance, there may be ways to reduce your liability and to pay a sum less than what is being demanded.
I hear there are scam emails and text messages from Instagram or Facebook, attorneys, and others saying I'm infringing someone's copyright, and I should just ignore these.
Scams, yes, sometimes. Ignore, never a great idea. There are "articles" going around the internet that suggest that "many" of these are scams. While "some" of these are definitely scams, "many" could also be legitimate and lead to worse consequences if you choose to ignore them.
These scams come in the form of emails from Facebook or Instagram saying you have images on your account that are infringing someone else's copyright, and if you do not take action, your account will be shut down. By all appearances, these emails look like they come from Facebook or Instagram. Some of these come from attorneys as well. Some even come via text.
Rather than ignore these, the best practice is to do some sleuth work on the validity. First, and most importantly, do not click on links or open attachments until you've done your detective work. Then, check on the source. If it comes from an attorney, email the attorney, advise you are not comfortable opening unknown attachments, and ask them to send the demand and any attachments via mail. You can also google search the attorney to see if they exists, or if there are scams attached. Most attorneys, if not all attorneys, will never send a demand letter via text.
Check the email address it came from - is it a real facebook address? Sometimes the email addresses are the dead giveaways to scams. If it looks potentially legitimate, go to your Facebook or Instagram accounts and check the history of emails sent to you by the company. There is an option under your settings that will give you a history of any emails these companies have sent about your account to cross-reference validity. If the emails don't appear, ignore and delete. If the email shows up, don't ignore.
Always be careful with the information you find in a google search. As with bad legal advice via google, you can similarly find people calling something a scam that might not be.
Bottom line is do your homework before ignoring. Demand letters for copyright infringement can be costly to ignore, if real. Results can include larger monetary demands and getting sued in federal court.
Copyright Claims Board
If I receive a notice that a claim has been filed against me via the Copyright Claims Board (CCB), is it okay to ignore this?
No. While participation in a CCB proceeding is voluntary, it requires action on the part of the person being accused of copyright infringement to opt out of the proceeding. If you receive a notice of claim, and choose to ignore it, the claim will move forward due to a failure to opt out. If you then fail to participate in the proceeding, a default judgment can be entered against you. This is a risky avenue and can make the problems more complex to resolve.
If I opt out of a CCB proceeding, the claimant can no longer come after me for infringement, right?
Incorrect. By opting out of a CCB proceeding, you are simply stating you do not wish to settle the claim via the small claims tribunal established by the U.S. Copyright Office. This does not make any infringement claim against you go away. The claimant may still choose to pursue the claim by suing you in federal court, or attempting to settle the matter via other legal means available.
Why should I consider working with an attorney on a Copyright Claims Board (CCB) claim, or defense of a claim against me?
The CCB is intended to be a streamlined and efficient process for copyright holders to represent themselves, or for those with claims against them to defend such a claim on their own. Despite this, some might prefer to have an attorney on their side to make sure the process goes smoothly. What is streamlined and easy-to-understand to one person may not be as easy to someone else. Proceedings have specific processes and deadlines, that, if missed, could end your claim. There are specific elements and details which must be included in a claim or response that, if left out, may also end your claim or lead to an unsatisfactory outcome.
In addition, copyright law and legal proceedings can get complex. An experienced copyright lawyer will help you navigate these things to save you time and frustration. Whether it is a little bit of advice and counsel while you represent yourself, full service representation through the process, or picking up during the process if you decide you need a hand, we are here to help. [Link to services].
How do I know if I should opt out of a proceeding before CCB or go ahead with the proceeding?
The CCB is subject-specific to copyright disputes and involves limited discovery. More complex cases that involve complicated facts or evidence beyond the limits of the CCB in defenses or counterclaims may mean CCB is not the right avenue for you. This is a something to consider by claimants as well.
Where can I find more information about the process to file a copyright claim with the CCB or to find information about a claim filed against me?
The U.S. copyright office has set up a user-friendly website at