Tips On Avoiding Immigration Pitfalls
Let’s face it, the process of immigration is not as easy as it may seem on paper. While it may be easy to access the required paperwork for your specific case just by heading over to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website, things could go from easy to extremely difficult if you do not file these forms correctly.
Quite understandably, many immigrants struggle with immigration paperwork. First of all, given that this process may be completely new to them, the chances of making mistakes when filling out immigration paperwork are high. Also, not every immigrant is able to speak and understand English properly, but this does not mean that they are ineligible for immigration into the United States. As a result, this article discusses some of the most important reasons for immigration pitfalls, and how such setbacks can be avoided prior to submitting immigration applications.
Before filing an immigration petition, it is important to find out if you are eligible to immigrate or attain certain benefits (if you are already living in the United States) based on the chosen category. For example, if you are applying for a green card, you need to ensure that you meet the minimum requirements as per U.S. immigration laws. The USCIS website contains a list of eligibility requirements for immigrants who wish to apply for a green card from within or outside of the United States. Checking the eligibility categories will help you narrow down to the exact category that suits your immigration status. The same case applies if you are seeking U.S. citizenship through naturalization, or simply requesting employment authorization after arriving in the U.S.
Choosing The Correct Forms
The USCIS website has so many forms, each serving a specific purpose. To avoid immigration issues with the USCIS, it is always good to ensure that you have selected the correct form for your specific application. The Forms section of the USCIS website is a great place to start when looking for the correct form to file a petition. However, if you are unsure about where your case falls, it is always good to consult an immigration attorney for professional legal advice.
Even after choosing the correct forms, your application is incomplete if you do not attach the required supporting documents. These documents usually provide extra information about your application, thus speeding up the processing times for your case. By talking to an immigration lawyer, you can always benefit from expert legal advice to increase the chance of your immigration petition being approved.
United States Citizenship And Immigration Services Filing Checklist
Another possible way to avoid immigration pitfalls is to refer to a checklist when filing your immigration petition to the USCIS. Let’s take a look at marriage-based green card applications, for example.
Marriage-Based Green Card
When filing for a marriage-based green card, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Did you download the correct form from the USCIS website?
- Did you fill out all required sections of the form?
- Did you provide all required supporting documents?
- Did you pay the correct filing fee?
- Did you sign every form that requires a signature?
- Did you read the form filing tips offered by the USCIS prior to submitting your application?
- Did you mail the form to the correct mailing address?
- If you changed your address, did you notify the USCIS in time?
- Are you keeping track of important deadlines before and after filing your petition?
What To Do If You Make A Mistake On Your Petition
By virtue of being human, it is very possible to make mistakes on your application. For example, if you are applying for a green card, there are so many documents that need to be submitted to the USCIS to prove your eligibility. In the process of applying for the green card, you may realize that you made a mistake. This is what you need to do if that happens:
Identifying The Nature Of The Mistake
Some mistakes may not be that serious; for example, if you forgot to provide the correct zip code for your previous address, you should not be too worried about it.
Contacting The USCIS
On the other hand, if you misspelled your name, provided the wrong birthday or any other information that identifies you, it is necessary to contact USCIS right away. Remember to have your filing receipt with you for reference. The USCIS officer should be able to help you make the required changes.
However, if the USCIS has already started working on your application, you may receive a Request For Evidence. This gives you a chance to correct the mistake by following the recommendations of the USCIS. Alternatively, if the mistake is serious and risks your chance of getting a green card or being approved for your specific petition, you may need to consult an attorney.
When To Hire An Immigration Attorney
When it comes to immigration issues, it is always a great idea to involve an immigration lawyer. Here are some of the most common signs that it is time to hire an immigration lawyer.
You’re New To The U.S. Citizenship And Immigration Process
The process of immigrating to the United States can be quite overwhelming. There is a bunch of paperwork involved and eligibility requirements that must be met. If you are having a rough time trying to understand everything, the best bet is to seek legal advice from a professional immigration attorney.
You Have Immigration Court Proceedings
Certain immigration cases may require the intervention of a judge. If you ever find yourself in such a situation, you may need to hire an immigration attorney. Such attorneys have extensive knowledge of the U.S. immigration system and its relation to your petition.
You Are Inadmissible
There are different reasons why you may be considered inadmissible. For example, if you previously lied to the U.S. government to obtain a visa or you committed a serious crime, your immigration petition may be at risk of being thrown out. If you are in the United States already, you may also face the risk of deportation.
You Are Encountering Unusual Delays
It is quite common to experience delays after filing an petition with the USCIS. Factors such as the Covid 19 pandemic, for instance, could influence the processing times in certain applications, including one-one-one interviews with USCIS officers. As a result, the USCIS website comes with a Processing Times tool to help you check the estimated waiting time for your petition. However, if you are experiencing unexpected delays, you may need to consult an immigration law firm to look into your case.
What To Look For In An Immigration Attorney
Not every law firm out there that claims to offer legal advice for immigrants actually delivers the promise. The type of lawyer that you select for your petition could influence the outcome of your case. The following tips should guide you when looking for the right attorney.
You need a lawyer who has experience in handling various immigration cases. Make sure you check the credentials and work history of the potential candidate, and decide if you can trust them with your petition.
As strange as it sounds, there are some unprofessional lawyers out there. Avoid lawyers who may ask to you lie in your petition, including those that make illegal offers. Lying in your petition will make things worse for you than for the lawyer involve. If you do not have a green card, you may never get a chance to apply for one and if you already have one, you may lose it permanently.
It is possible to find some great lawyers through the word of mouth or by surfing the internet. If you know of a friend or family member who became a permanent resident of the United States or acquired a visa through a certain lawyer, you may contact them for referrals.
Now that you know how to avoid such problems and what to do when they occur, you will always have peace of mind as you wait for a decision from the USCIS. Remember, hiring a lawyer may be expensive but the decision itself can be the turning point for your petition. This is especially important if you have serious problems with your application and you do not know what to do. For example, if you are facing a legal challenge that could risk your green card, an attorney stands a higher chance of helping you out before your court date, than after. In most cases, when green cards get revoked, your chances of getting another one are almost zero. Therefore, whichever way you look at it, hiring an immigration attorney is always a wise decision.