Better Safe Than Sorry
Plan ahead and DON’T BE LATE: If you are living in the United States through a work permit or any other status that needs to be renewed, know that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is extremely backed up due to high demand. Be safe and file any applications needed far in advance from your legal status expiration date to avoid any arrest. If you are scheduled for an appointment with the USCIS, a U.S. embassy or the U.S. immigration court, make sure to arrive to your appointment on time. If you miss any appointments or even arriving late can result in a delay to your immigration process for months and deportation.
File more than one visa petition: If you are seeking a green card through a family member who is a U.S. citizen, see if another family member is eligible to also submit a visa petition for you. This is a way to have various venues open in case the waiting list for one visa category is especially long or if the person dies – this way there is another petition in the works already.
Consider applying for U.S. citizenship: If you are living in the U.S. and have a green card, take the opportunity to file for U.S. citizenship as soon as you possibly can. By doing so you can relinquish the fear of deportation and citizenship can help secure the status of your close family members. Although most green card holders have to wait five years after their approval to apply for citizenship, there are a few who can apply sooner. To learn more about immigration and citizenship visit the USCIS website.
Keep copies of paperwork and keep track: Unfortunately due to high volume of applicants, USCIS is known for losing paperwork. Always make copies of any applications and paperwork. When mailing the applications out, make sure to send by certified mail with a tracking number and a return receipt, that way you know if they received it. All of this will be your proof if USCIS claims they never got the paperwork.
Research: Make sure you do your research. Be cautious of you accept advice from, sometimes friends provide you with unreliable and incorrect information that can affect your immigration process. Remember, everyone’s legal situation is different so what may work for one person might not work for another. When you DO find an accredited immigration lawyer, make sure to ask all the questions you have to truly understand your situation.
Norma Lorenzo, Esq., is the managing partner at Hermanni & Lorenzo Law Group, an Immigration law firm established in Miami since 2008. Ms. Lorenzo has helped hundreds of immigrants with a variety of cases obtain legal status in the United States. She also teaches at Florida International University School of Law.