For an individual hoping to earn residency or citizenship in the United States, nothing can be more frustrating than rejection. Application denial, getting turned away at the border, or deportation are some of more unfavorable consequences. As one of Cleveland’s most compassionate and empathetic immigration lawyers, I am happy to share 10 tips for those seeking residency or citizenship in America. There are never any guarantees that your application will be accepted—or that the application process can be sped up—but following these ten guidelines can certainly increase your chances:
1. Expect delays. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) is generally running behind schedule. I’ve seen it take 3+ years for some applications to be processed, so be sure to apply to renew your green card or immigration visa well in advance of its expiration. If your immigration documents expire, even if you’ve already applied for renewal, you can still be arrested and deported.
2. Become a citizen. Not only does citizenship protect you against many grounds for deportation, but it also increases the chances of your close relatives successfully establishing citizenship in the US. You should file for citizenship as soon as the law allows.
3. Don’t get turned away at the border. Border officials have the right to turn you away if they believe you are a security risk, or that you lied to acquire your immigration visa. If you’re traveling to the United States as a tourist, don’t pack items that indicate a long-term stay, i.e. a job resume or a wedding dress.
4. Let USCIS know when your address changes. Print, fill out and mail a Form AR-11 for each member of your family who will be moving, and make sure you submit the form within 10-days of your change of address. If you have other applications pending, be sure to alert those offices of your address change, as well.
5. File as many immigration visa petitions as possible. If more than one family member is eligible to petition for you, take advantage of the opportunity and file for multiple petitions.
6. Be prompt. If you arrive late for a meeting with the US embassy, immigration court, or the USCIS, at the worst, you can be deported. At the best, your proceedings will be delayed…and a delay in your proceedings could be the difference between your application being accepted or denied. I cannot stress the importance of timeliness.
7. Don’t break the law. This is so important! If you have earned a green card or immigration visa, learn the immigration laws and adhere to them vigilantly. One misstep is all it takes for you to be deported, for your immigration visa to be canceled, or for you to even be banned from entering the United States again.
8. Keep copies of all immigration documents & applications. Don’t assume that the USCIS will not lose your application. Submit your applications using a trackable form of mail, such as certified mail or FedEx, request a return receipt, and keep copies of absolutely everything you send in.
9. Get the facts. There is a lot of misleading information out there about immigration—even USCIS employees get it wrong sometimes. It’s your responsibility to get the facts. The USCIS website is a reliable source of immigration information, or you can contact a reliable immigration attorney at Choudhury Law, if needed.
10. Solicit help from legislators. When all else fails, and you’re experiencing significant difficulties in the immigration process, contact your local US congressperson. He or she may be able to make inquiries for you, or otherwise get the process going on your application.
Laws about immigration—and how they are enforced—are on shaky ground right now. The best course of action is to understand the immigration process, give yourself plenty of time to apply for residency or citizenship, and be smart in following these ten tips for immigration.
Contact Choudhury Law, LLC
At Choudhury Law, we recognize that every immigration case is different, and is impacted by a unique set of personal circumstances. Whether you’re just looking to gain a better understanding of the law, or are ready to begin the process of applying for residency or citizenship, Choudhury Law is here to help. We are known as one of Cleveland’s most empathetic law firms and look forward to getting you the immigration benefits you need and deserve.