Do I need an immigration lawyer for a green card?
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Getting a green card may seem like a straightforward process. After all, the application calls for general information, such as your name, date, and country of birth. However, the complexities of immigration law mask themselves inside basic questions and can have far-reaching consequences. If you are inside the United States, what may have once looked like a straightforward path to a green card can land you in immigration court. Or, if you are outside the United States and waiting to reunite with your family, any error can delay your case or lead to a denial.
There is no requirement to have a lawyer to get a green card. However, having a knowledgeable immigration lawyer can make a difference in your case. Immigration lawyers can analyze your specific circumstances and advise the best path to a green card. They can discover any negative factors that could lead to a denial or, even worse, place you in deportation proceedings.
Immigration lawyers can determine if you qualify for a green card
U.S. immigration laws provide for many paths to a green card. An immigration lawyer can help you decipher which category you fall under. Each category will have different requirements you need to fulfill to get a green card. Therefore knowing which immigrant category you fall under will help you prepare your application, obtain the necessary documentation, and even determine whether your family members are eligible to apply with you.
The following immigrant categories include:
- Special Immigrant
- Refugee or Asylee Status
- Human Trafficking and Crime Victims
- Victims of Abuse
- Certain other categories, such as the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF), the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, and the Cuban Adjustment Act.
Immigration lawyers can prepare an immigrant petition for you
Anyone who becomes a green card holder must have an immigrant petition. This means that you will need to complete at least two forms. Usually, someone else must file a petition for you. That person is often referred to as sponsoring or petitioning for you. Once an immigration attorney identifies which category you fall under, they can fill out the required forms.
Many people might be tempted to do it themselves or use companies that can fill out the forms at cheaper rates. While these may work for some, it comes with significant risk. All information you provide on an application for a government benefit will be memorialized. If any information is incorrect, it could provide the basis for denial. In some cases, false information could prevent you from ever obtaining legal status in the U.S.
If any piece of the application is incomplete, you risk a denial. When the government requests additional evidence, it will give you a timeframe to submit it. Your case can be denied if it doesn’t receive the requested evidence within the allotted time. Once you have a denial, you can also be placed into deportation proceedings. While a judge would ultimately review your claim, the entire process can take about three to five years. In the end, not using a lawyer can cost you thousands of dollars and lengthy wait times.
The best time to see whether you qualify for a green card is before you file your application. A lawyer knows what questions to ask before you file your application and make yourself known to immigration authorities. Usually, when green card applications are denied, they are then referred to immigration enforcement. The last thing you want is to apply for a green card, unaware of a criminal record or unresolved arrest that could put you into deportation proceedings.
An immigration lawyer can file your green card application
“Adjustment of status” refers to the change in your status to a lawful permanet resident (green card holder). When you seek to adjust your status, you can get a green card without leaving the United States and returning to your home country. This application will have its own set of requirements that must be fulfilled including an interview with USCIS. A lawyer will know those requirements and ensure that your application meets them.
Consular processing allows you to apply for a green card at a U.S. Department of State consulate abroad. If you are outside the U.S. and consular process, you will come into America as a green card holder. Having an immigration lawyer can navigate this complicated process with you.
Prepare you for an Interview
Not all immigrant categories require an interview. However, you want to ensure you know whether your specific category will need one. Interviews can be difficult when part of the green card process. Not only will you and your sponsor be required to know everything you answered on your application, but the government will also have information about you. An immigration attorney can prepare you for the questions you will be asked.
Having an experienced immigration attorney will help present your strongest case at the beginning. Lawyers can ensure that the process runs smoothly and shorten wait times. While there is no requirement to have an immigration attorney, it undoubtedly minimizes mistakes and maximizes your chance for approval.
Contact an Experienced Immigration Attorney
Immigration law is complicated, but our immigration attorneys at Castillo & Associates can speak with you about how to file a petition for your loved ones. They have close to 25 years of experience in Immigration Law. We also have four offices throughout Southern California to serve many people. To schedule a free consultation, call 1 800-497-9774.
Attorney Domingo Castillo is a workers’ compensation & personal injury lawyer who serve Southern California from our 5 offices: Indio, Pomona, Riverside, San Diego & Calexico.