It may be your dream to live and work in the U.S., to marry a U.S. citizen, to become a citizen yourself, or to bring your family member(s) from overseas to live with you. But the complex rules and regulations of U.S. immigration law are intimidating, to say the least. Your best bet to achieve the outcome you desire is to work with an experienced immigration lawyer.
Not only can hiring an immigration lawyer save you four to eight weeks in processing time with immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applications, for example, but they also can evaluate the facts and potential success of your case, as well as prepare you for everything from court proceedings to citizenship interviews.
This list is not exhaustive by any means, but it does include common reasons individuals typically seek the counsel and help of an experienced immigration attorney:
- Employment-Based Immigration
- Family-Based Immigration
- Deportation or Removal Has Been Filed Against You
- Application for American Citizenship
Employment-Based Immigration (EB)
Whether a U.S. employer is petitioning for you to be employed with them or you are already residing in the U.S. and desire to work, an immigration attorney will be able to help you determine your eligibility and file for a visa under the appropriate classification. For example, there are both temporary employment-based visas (H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, L-1A, L-1B) and permanent employment-based visas (EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, EB-4, EB-5).
In nearly every case, applying for an EB visa always requires a hefty amount of paperwork. Completing the forms and submitting additional supporting documents requires the utmost accuracy, not to mention hours of work. Plus, making a mistake on a visa application – such as filing for the wrong classification – can result in a denial.
An immigration attorney handles complex cases and paperwork on a daily basis and can relieve your stress and worry about filing an application.
As the relative (or future relative) of a U.S. citizen or a current Green Card holder, you may be eligible to immigrate to the United States through family-based immigration. Or, if you already live in the U.S. with your family member but want to become a permanent resident by applying for an adjustment of status, there are nuances about who is eligible. An immigration lawyer can help navigate these various categories and explain your options.
U.S. citizens, for example, may petition for a family-based immigrant visa (IV) for their immediate relatives (spouse, fiancé, child, parent, sibling) and are not limited as to how many family members they may apply for each year. Lawful permanent residents (Green Card holders), on the other hand, may only file for an IV for their spouse or unmarried child. Family preference visas are also available for more distant relatives of U.S. citizens or LPRs, but these exceptions are limited.
Deportation or Removal Has Been Filed Against You
A removal proceeding (also known as deportation) occurs when an employer or the government believes that you do not have valid immigration status, or that you have done something to end your immigration status. This can be the result of a workplace raid, a failed application for a Green Card or U.S. citizenship, or a criminal conviction. You may be notified of the removal after being served with a Notice to Appear (NTA) before an Immigration Judge.
If this has happened to you, you may be eligible to have your removal canceled under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). One scenario and option is to appeal an Immigration Judge’s prior decision in an exclusion proceeding, which would need to be presented to the Board of Immigration Appeals. You may also file an application for Cancellation of Removal and Adjustment of Status for Certain Nonpermanent Residents and establish a hearing before an Immigration Judge. Finally, if you are inadmissible under the INA, you may apply for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the U.S. After Deportation or Removal (I-212).
In all three scenarios, being represented by an immigration attorney will be invaluable to your case.
Application for American Citizenship
Naturalization (N-400) is the process to become a U.S. citizen if you were born outside the States. In fact, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers an eligibility tool questionnaire that can help you determine if you are currently eligible to apply for citizenship.
The application process to become a U.S. citizen requires extensive paperwork, biometrics appointments, a USCIS interview, and an English and civics test. It is incredibly helpful to have an immigration attorney file your paperwork, to answer your questions, and walk with you through each step of the overall process. Finally, when all of these requirements are satisfied, you will be required to take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States, and a judge or USCIS administrator will present you with your Certificate of Naturalization. Then, we celebrate!