By Atty. Paul Choi

Paul Choi is an immigration attorney practicing in Encino, California. As a public service, he will answer all questions regarding immigration and naturalization for free either by mail, email at, on the phone, or in person or you may contact his administrator, Philip Abramowitz at 818 714-2226, or The following is one such question and the answer by Mr. Choi.

Question: I am married to a U.S. citizen and want to apply for permanent residence now. However, I entered the United States several years ago from the Philippines using an assumed name. I want to know if this will cause me to be denied by the USCIS. I want to have an attorney review my case with me and answer my questions before I file. I do not know if I even need an attorney or whether I can file this case myself and save the money. I don’t have a very good job now because I don’t have a work permit and I am only earning a little bit of cash working as a care giver. I checked with several attorneys that advertise in the Balita and most ask for a consultation fee of $150. One attorney even asked me to pay $300 up front before I can even see him. I don’t have that kind of money to spend at this time. Will your law firm meet with me or answer my questions through email without charging me? This would be a great service to the Filipino community here.

Answer: Your question is a valid one especially in these tough economic times. We know that many lawyers can be expensive at times but that you should not have to pay a fee just to get some advice. It certainly pays to discuss your case first with a knowledgeable lawyer before deciding to hire him or pay him. But why pay for an attorney if you don’t even know if he is even able to help you?

When I commenced practicing immigration law I pledged to my clients not to charge a fee for consultation or for advice. It did not matter whether I spoke with a client over the phone, on the internet through email or even in person. I want my office to be open to all, even those who just want to ask some questions and get some advice. I understand that this open door policy is unusual these days and that most of the immigration attorneys in Los Angeles charge a substantial fee just to consult for the first time. However, most of my clients come from the Filipino community in Southern California and I am grateful for their support and for the support of Philip Abramowitz who works with me in my office. To give back to that community, I freely give consultations in my office every day without any charge or obligation whatsoever. Want to know if you can qualify for permanent residence even if you entered illegally? I can give you answers to your questions without charge. Want to know if you, your wife, your family or your friends qualify for immigration benefits, a working visa, or naturalization? Feel free to call me on the phone, email me or visit me in my office. There is no charge for my advice.

Secondly, I have heard from the clients that I see that they are hesitant to see immigration attorneys because they are illegal, have committed a crime, or have done some act that they are ashamed of and they worry about confidentiality. Rest assured that whatever you tell me is kept secret and confidential. I do not share your private information with anyone that includes the authorities, the government or anyone outside my office. Moreover, I have been told that I am friendly, approachable and a good listener. If I can help you, I will tell you up front what can be done on your case, how long it will take, the chances of success, and the total costs. There are never any surprises. I don’t raise my fees later on and I give you a written contract that I sign confirming what I will do for you, how much the fee will be, as well as the total amount of USCIS filing fees and costs. Unlike other law offices, I don’t have hidden fees and I don’t raise my fees after we start your case. What I write in your written contract is what your obligation will be. There are no hidden extras or surprise fees down the road. I don’t ever want to be treated that way so I don’t treat my clients that way.

How about if you don’t have a case or there is a very good chance your application or petition will be denied? Guess what? I tell you the bad news as well as the good. If I don’t believe you will succeed from our initial consultation, I will tell you so and I will not take your case. Honesty sometimes may be tough to handle but it is always the best policy. I would rather have you take your case to some other anxious attorney than charge a client for fees when I feel strongly your case will not succeed. However, just by bringing your questions to my office and discussing your case, you will have your case analyzed and you will receive a recommendation on how to proceed. I will also tell you if I believe you need to have an attorney to represent you because of the difficulty or risks involved in your case or if I believe you can do the work by yourself safely. Sometimes, I even give clients the forms they need and they file by themselves after receiving my advice. That is fine with me. I am just happy to help. I know that by providing a service to the community I am also building trust and a loyal client base for the future.

So, the answer to your question is: Yes, there is a place you can go to get free immigration advice day or night. Email me at and I will personally answer your questions. Want to visit me in my office for a free consultation?. Phone me at 818 714-2226 and I will be happy to speak with you over the phone or make an appointment to meet with you. Again, at no charge. And by the way, you meet with me, not some secretary, paralegal or salesperson. I look forward to seeing you!


Atty Paul Choi will answer all questions regarding immigration, naturalization and deportation defense for FREE. Contact him at or at 818 714-2226. He is located at 16000 Ventura Blvd, Ste. 1201, Encino, California 91436.