When applying for an immigrant visa to the United States or a green card, you do not need an immigration lawyer if you have a straightforward case; that is, no criminal record or previous run-ins with authorities. You can potentially progress all through the process of obtaining a visa or green card without needing a lawyer. If you are simply visiting and will be returning in about 90 days, depending on the country you are from, you might not even need a visa as you can travel on the visa waiver program.
Attorneys may be allowed to prepare your paperwork for you and have follow-up communications with the embassy but they cannot attend interviews with you.
That been said, there are countless situations where you will need the help of a lawyer as this will save you time, money, and stress. Immigration law in the United State is quite complicated and in situations where you are stuck, you will need people who are knowledgeable and experienced to help you out.
Before considering situations where you will need a lawyer, let us see who an immigration lawyer is.
What does an Immigration Attorney do?
These are independent lawyers who specialize in helping their clients deal with a variety of issues that are related to green cards, visa, United State citizenship as well as other benefits of immigration. They are not affiliated with the U.S immigration authorities in any way.
You can get an immigration lawyer from any state in the U.S even if you are abroad as the laws guiding immigration are federal laws.
When Do You Need An Attorney?
The U.S experiences a constant influx of people who hope to live, work, or study in the country. Immigration attorneys can easily help any individual or family that is stuck or having trouble with the authorities in any way, whether the person is abroad or already resident in the country.
Though some of the situations in which they can be of help can be found here, we will go ahead to list a few below.
When You Are Inadmissible
One of the most common issues encountered by immigrants hoping to enter the United States is an inadmissible claim by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). This could be down to many different reasons which can include cases where the applicant is suspected of being:
- A prostitute
- A spy
- Someone with communicable diseases
- A drug addict and abuser
- Drug trafficker
- A person without proper vaccinations
- A convicted persons and so on.
While some of these have waivers, there are now waivers for terrorists, spies, Nazis, or those dealing in drugs.
In any of these cases, it is recommended that you engage the services of an attorney before beginning the application process. This will save you the embarrassment of denial as well as the loss of time and resources.
When You Don’t Know the Best Options to Choose
As an employer of labor or a skilled worker seeking employment, you potentially qualify for multiple types of visas or green cards. It may be difficult to know which the best is for you or which is the fastest to obtain. By engaging an immigration lawyer, they can help you figure out which of the visas will best suit the applicant with the status of an employer and which will be best for the worker.
For engaged persons who intend to marry, it is possible to get a k-1 fiancé visa that will grant them entry into the U.S so that they can get married. Another option is to get married first outside of the U.S to a U.S citizen and enter the country with an immigrant visa. The first option will require that a person first goes through a process called adjustment of status while the latter grants immediate rights to a green card. The attorney will be able to advice in these different situations what the best option is based on processing times, procedure, and fees.
When You are Encountering a Delay
Sometimes the USCIS or the consulate may not approve or act on a visa application in time. This can, a lot of times, be due to bureaucratic hiccups rather than legal issues. In this sort of situation, an attorney may not have a lot of power. They may however be able to help via their access and connections to inquiry lines and get information on what is causing the delay and what may need to be done.
An Employer Looking to Hire Foreign Workers
As a business owner or employer, you may need foreign workers to work on your business and can therefore sponsor them for a green card. This however requires that you complete the labor certification process which is called PERM. You can check it out here: https://www.employerlawreport.com/2012/10/articles/immigration/what-is-perm/.
To do this, it is expected that you place adverts for the job. Only a certain type of this advert is admissible and they must contain specific language and may even involve deadlines. The specificity of guideline makes it quite easy for one to get it all wrong.
Much like the immigration bureaucracy, filling the PERM form 9089 can be difficult to understand any mistake may result in a denial. Immigration lawyers through knowledge and years of experience can easily help you fill out the form. Much more than that, they are available to help you every step of the way through the PERM process.
When You are Inundated with Paperwork
Virtually all application to the U.S immigration requires filling forms and gathering necessary documents. This is to serve as proof of eligibility. There are detailed instructions that you need to follow to be able to successfully fill such forms. A mistake can cause your application to be rejected or delayed.
As attorneys involved in the process, immigration lawyers have filled the forms many times over and possess the ability as well as tools to help you prepare the forms and documents that are needed.
Hiring an Attorney
In order to find an immigration attorney in the Van Nuys area of California, ensure you research and get a real lawyer. Avoid those who give unethical and illegal advice or those who approach you at the immigration office. You should also avoid those who refer to themselves as visa consultants, petition preparers, and the likes. You can easily check online or ask around for good attorneys. Usually, an attorney will charge a flat fee before consultation while some may offer a free first session.
Another way you may recognize a good lawyer is that they are a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). You can also ask for references and talk to several other lawyers if still in doubt.
Not every visa or green card applicant needs the services of lawyers to help with their application. There are some situations where hiring one is your best bet and some of these you have seen above.
The resultant effect of this, amongst other things, is a potentially successful application, peace of mind as well as saved time and money.
It’s now up to you to ensure you take the time to find the right attorney to help you with your case.