Experienced Immigration Lawyers
If you wish to visit, live, or work in the United States, you may have already begun to learn about the process required to obtain an immigrant or non-immigrant visa. Although immigration law is a complex and dynamic system, two basic questions run throughout.
Who is permitted to enter the country and who will be kept out?
In trying to answer the first question, the first legal hurdle you may face concerns whether or not you are "inadmissible." Generally, inadmissibility issues arise when health, criminal, security, immigration violations, or public charge questions emerge in your case. Some people are turned away at the border, while others gain entry but later must go before an immigration judge for a hearing or address these issues in an interview with a U.S. immigration officer. For some individuals, there may be waivers or pardons that would allow them to overcome their inadmissibility problems.
Who does the United States allow to remain here after entry and who can be deported?
The other legal difficulty you may face can occur after you have gained lawful entry; because of some action you have taken, such as allowing your visa to expire, working without authorization, or being convicted of a crime, the government may now wish to "remove" you for violating the law. In addition, individuals who have entered illegally, such as without inspection or by fraud, are also removable. In either of these cases, you have the right to a hearing before an immigration judge to decide whether you will be removed from the country. Sometimes, you can be granted a waiver or the right to seek relief from removal. Many of these waivers will depend on the strength of your ties to the U.S. and/or a showing of hardship to your family members, along with other potential requirements such as evidence of persecution, the amount of time physically present in the U.S., or residency.
Understanding Your Options
You should also realize that completing the steps required to visit, work or study in, or immigrate to the U.S. may be a very long process. Your steps could include:
- Waiting for Your US Family Member or Employer to Complete the Visa Petition
- Waiting for US Authorities to Approve the Petition
- Waiting for the People in Line Ahead of You Get Their Visas if There is a Limited Number of Visas or Green Cards Allowed in Your Category
- Collecting the Documents You Need and Submitting Them
- Making Sure Your Paperwork Does Not Get Lost in the System
- Attending an Interview Either at a Consulate Outside of the U.S. or in a U.S. Immigration Office
- Receiving a Visa or a Green Card to Enter the U.S. or Being Denied and Then Wishing to Reapply
- And Working to Protect Your Status While Waiting for the "Next Step" in Your Case Such as Citizenship
Because your immigration journey may take a very long time, it is important to have guidance from an immigration lawyer that you trust will be there for you during each step of the way. You should decide at the beginning of the immigration process whether or not you need a lawyer; if you go to a lawyer after complications have already come up in your case, you will be at a disadvantage because now you will need to address the negative issues which have arisen. Also, the process will become even slower and probably more costly for you in both time and money.
Therefore, even if you do not use an attorney to file or prepare your application or petition, it is worth it for you to attend a consultation with an experienced attorney. Finally, make sure the lawyer you choose to consult with is really a lawyer! You should ask to see your attorney's identification ("bar card") or call your state bar association for confirmation, as a "notario" lacks the legal training necessary to advise you.