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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Candor and Thoroughness in the Immigration Process

The most important thing to remember when filing an immigration petition or application is candor and thoroughness. Failure to do so may result in delay or the ultimate denial of your application. It is crucial that you disclose ALL of the information, that USCIS is asking for. Besides simple disclosure, it is also important to explain as thoroughly as possible. For example, if they USCIS asks about your criminal history, it is critical that you disclose EVERY arrest or incident, no matter what the outcome of the incident was. If your case was dismissed, sealed, expunged, etc., be sure to include that in your explaination. It is also advisable that you attach applicable documents to your application, which provides proof to the statements you are making.

A major critieria in the immigration process is the USCIS's "perception" of the truthfulness of the applicant. Whether this preception is true or not, it is what they will be basing thier decision on. If you provide them any reason to believe that you are less than truthful in your application, they can deny it solely based on on that. Although most ommissions of information are not intentional, having to explain those mistakes later can be quite burdensome.

It is imperative that an applicant thoroughly reviews his/her application before submission. Once it is submitted, can retractions or oral modifications (at interviews) can be construed as not be truthful.

James C. Tai

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Top Ten Tips for Avoiding Trouble With U.S. Immigration

From by Ilona Bray

Keep your status secure and your visa and green card applications moving along smoothly.Â

1. Plan for delays. If you are in the United States and your work permit or status needs to be renewed, realize that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS, formerly called the INS) is extremely backed up. Cope by turning in your application far in advance. This is particularly important if your legal status has an expiration date on it. If you fall out of status, the immigration authorities could arrest you.

2. Consider U.S. citizenship. If you have a green card, file for U.S. citizenship as soon as legally possible. This will not only protect you from deportation, but will also help you get a more secure status for your close family members. Most people have to wait five years after their green card approval before applying, but some people can apply sooner. For more information, see the USCIS website or the book Becoming a U.S. Citizen: A Guide to the Law, Exam & Interview (Nolo).

3. Avoid summary removal. When arriving in the U.S. from overseas, be ready to convince the border official that you deserve your entry visa. These officials have a lot of power and they can send you back if they think you are a security risk or that you lied in order to get the visa. Tourists should be careful not to pack anything that looks like they're planning a permanent stay, such as a résumé or a wedding dress.

4. Notify USCIS of address changes. If you're spending more than 30 days in the U.S., you must notify USCIS of your changes of address, within ten days. You and every member of your family must send separate notifications. You can do so either by mailing in Form AR-11 (available on the USCIS website), or better yet, through USCIS's online change of address service. Also, be sure to send written word of your new address to every USCIS office that's handling an application of yours -- otherwise, the office might not hear of the change.

5. File multiple visa petitions. If you plan to get a green card through a family member, see if more than one member of your family is eligible to submit the visa petition for you. For example, a brother and a sister who are U.S. citizens could both file for you. That way if the waiting list in one category gets especially long, or if one person dies, you'll have another option.

6. Don't be late. Be extremely careful to arrive on time for any scheduled appointment with the USCIS, a U.S. embassy or consulate, or the U.S. immigration court. Arriving late -- or not at all -- can result in months of delays at best, and deportation from the U.S. at worst.

7. Avoid visa violations. Make sure you understand the fine print surrounding your visa, work permit, or green card, and follow the rules carefully. Violating even minor terms of your visa or green card -- for example, working while you're here as a tourist or helping to smuggle a family member over the border -- can result in your visas being canceled or your being deported. For more information on the various visas and green cards available, see U.S. Immigration Made Easy (Nolo).

8. Copy and track paperwork. USCIS is famous for losing paperwork. Send all applications and other material by certified mail, with a return receipt, and keep a copy. They're not only your proof of filing, but may become the main copies in the USCIS files if the original is never found.

9. Do your research. Be careful who you accept advice from. Rumors and friends can't be relied on -- everyone's legal situation is different. Even USCIS employees sometimes give out wrong advice, for which you pay the consequences. Do your own research where possible, and if necessary take your unanswered questions to an immigration attorney or accredited representative whose reputation you've checked out.

10. Get help from above. If nothing else is working, contact your U.S. congressperson. They can usually make an inquiry for you, which often encourages the USCIS or consulate into taking appropriate action.


Monday, June 8, 2009

When Do You Need an Immigration Attorney?

1. If you have committed or been convicted of any crime.

2. If your prior applications have been denied.

3. If you have attempted the process on your own and simply cannot figure out what to do next.

4. If you have been deported or otherwise forced to leave the United States.

5. If you have a communicable disease.

6. If you have filed your immigration forms and have been waiting an unreasonably long time for a response.

7. If you divorced your first U.S. spouse before the condition was removed from your permanent residence and you are now seeking to adjust status based on a marriage to another U.S. citizen.

8. If your marriage to a U.S. citizen failed before you were able to file your petition to have the condition removed on your residency, and you will have to file alone.

9. If you are immigrating with your family and you have a child that could reach age twenty-one before your permanent residence status is granted.

10. If you are obtaining a visa or green card based on an employment offer, but your prospective employer has not offered to handle the immigration process.

For a more detailed discussion for these issues, please see the FIND LAW article.


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