Immigration laws are most complex, and they’re constantly evolving; so are the administrative procedures that support them. One reason for this is the simple fact that immigration has become politicized to the point where the criteria for who is allowed in this country, and who isn’t, is itself becoming a topic of heated debate. Add to that the fact that some Presidential Executive Orders on the subject are called into legal dispute, and it’s not difficult to see that the foundation for some of our current U.S. immigration policies is far from bedrock-solid.
In the face of such current disorder, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) tries to make its administrative procedures and priority changes as consistent as possible, relative to this political upheaval. These changes often result in modified processing and approval standards.
An experienced immigration attorney helps you navigate the numerous, and sometimes contradictory, steps you must negotiate when applying for any immigration adjustment, including permanent residency, citizenship and naturalization. Bar-certified immigration lawyers help clients deal with a variety of questions regarding the many available types of visas, green card issues, U.S. citizenship, and other immigration benefits. U.S. immigration law is subject to federal enforcement, not that of any individual state.
More often than not, most petitions for family-based immigration adjustments are often subjected to several years’ worth of processing, approval (and sometimes denial), appeal, and finally approval. Application errors can negatively impact and delay these processes and certainly impact your petition’s ultimate outcome.
When do you need an immigration lawyer?
Not every immigration issue requires legal services. But some of those which might include the following:
- There is uncertainty about your green card or other immigration benefit eligibility.
- You seek discretionary relief, such as political asylum or wish to persuade immigration authorities to make an eligibility exception that might not ordinarily pertain to your situation.
- It is difficult for you to obtain a USCIS green card, citizenship, or another immigration benefit.
- You receive USCIS notification that deportation or removal proceedings have been launched against you.
- You have been deported from the U.S. and wish to return.
- Your immigration application has been refused or denied.
- You have been convicted of – or committed – a criminal offense and wish to enter the U.S., or you must protect yourself from being deported from the U.S.
- You are planning to move to the U.S. to work for an American employer; but that employer is not properly assisting you with the immigration process.
- You realize that you need legal assistance to deal with the numerous forms and documentation that must be prepared for submission, because they’re too complicated or time-consuming to deal with.
- You wish to apply for an investment-based visa.
U.S. immigration law can be intricate and quite complex. Many times, hiring an attorney saves you time, frustration, and, of course, money. Immigration lawyers understand the administrative process and time-saving measures that produce results as soon as feasible. But we also help to aggressively defend you if USCIS has initiated removal proceedings against you.
One final thought about the difference between a certified U.S. immigration attorney and a well-intentioned “notario,” or “immigration expert.” The USCIS says, “Only attorneys or accredited representatives can give you legal advice about which forms to submit, explain immigration options you may have, and communicate with USCIS about your case.”
The USCIS has also published a number of useful articles about a number of immigration scams and how to avoid them, including notarios, web sites that promise quick and easy immigration solutions, and hoax job offer and lottery scheme websites.
The American Bar Association has recently published a brief article about How to Fight Notario Fraud, which we are sad to say is all too common.
Attorney Kirby J. Fullerton
Mr. Fullerton’s practice is focused on immigration law. He speaks Spanish, and represents clients in cases before the immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals. He began his career practicing criminal defense, and understands how matters in criminal courts can affect a client’s immigration status. [Attorney Bio]