The Role of an Immigration Attorney
Whether you will need an immigration attorney will be determined by your reasons for entering the United States, and by your background. If you just want to visit the U.S., you may not even need to obtain a visa. Check with a U.S. consulate or embassy in your country to determine the visa requirements.
If you are coming to the United States as a result of a job offer from a U.S. employer, your prospective employer will probably either hire an attorney to do the work, or use someone on staff with specialized training in immigration procedures.
In many instances, you may consult an attorney because you are overwhelmed or frustrated by the process of obtaining a green card, or bringing a family member to the U.S., and have been unable to obtain assistance from the Bureau of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If you fear that there is something in your background that may prohibit you from obtaining a green card or bringing a family member to the U.S., or if you or a loved one have been contacted by the USCIS and threatened with deportation, it is well worth it to seek advice from an attorney. In some cases, failing to obtain the advice of an attorney could mean the difference between permanent residence and deportation. Many immigration attorneys will give you a free consultation, or deduct the cost of the consultation from your total fees.
If any of the following descriptions apply to you, it will be worth your while to seek legal advice from an immigration attorney:
1. If you have committed or been convicted of any crime. Most USCIS forms ask whether you have committed or been convicted of a crime, and remember that you will be fingerprinted if you want to immigrate. While not all crimes create a barrier to immigration, if you make misrepresentations on your immigration forms, you risk deportation.
2. If your prior applications have been denied. An attorney should be able to determine what the problem is, and whether it can be remedied.
3. If you have attempted the process on your own and simply cannot figure out what to do next. The immigration process is notoriously complicated, and many individuals hire attorneys because they have reached the limits of their patience. In many instances, it is better to hire an attorney rather than improvise and cause unnecessary delay in your immigration process.
4. If you have been deported or otherwise forced to leave the United States. Not all removals from the United States will result in permanent bars to immigration.
5. If you have a communicable disease. Not all diseases are a permanent bar to immigration.
6. If you have filed your immigration forms and have been waiting an unreasonably long time for a response. In many instances, a well-established immigration attorney will have relationships with USCIS personnel that can facilitate a timely determination of the status of your application.
7. If you divorced your first U.S. spouse before the condition was removed from your permanent residence and you are now seeking to adjust status based on a marriage to another U.S. citizen. In many instances it will be difficult to prove that your first marriage was not a sham.
8. If your marriage to a U.S. citizen failed before you were able to file your petition to have the condition removed on your residency, and you will have to file alone. The procedure for waiving the joint petition requirement can be extremely difficult, particularly when your former spouse and his or her family won't provide you with any evidence that the marriage was not a sham.
9. If you are immigrating with your family and you have a child that could reach age twenty-one before your permanent residence status is granted.. For example, if you are obtaining a green card through employment, your spouse and your children under the age of twenty-one will also be eligible for green cards. In such a case, you will want to consult an attorney to determine the most expeditious method of processing your paperwork.
10. If you are obtaining a visa or green card based on an employment offer, but your prospective employer has not offered to handle the immigration process. The process of obtaining a visa or green card based on employment offers is complicated. Failure to follow procedures correctly can result in lengthy delays.