Whether you’re watching your nightly news or scrolling through Facebook on your lunch break, the topic of immigration is at the height of concern at the moment. Ever since the presidential election, immigration has been a hot-button topic with many in favor of stricter border control laws and many against it, as we’ve seen in protests and demonstrations that have been taking place across the United States. Despite the recent surge of conversation, the highly-debated topic of immigration has been a huge part of the United States’ history for quite some time.
In fact, the Department of Homeland Security keeps statistics on immigration dating all the way back to 1820. In that year, 8,385 immigrants obtained lawful permanent resident status in the United States. Overall, that number increased to approximately 1,183,505 in 2016 and has been growing ever since.
Lawful permanent residents are non-citizens who have been granted authorization to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. They are granted a permanent resident card, which is often called a Green Card. They have the ability to accept employment offers without special restrictions, own property, receive financial assistance at public colleges and/or universities, and join the Armed Forces.
On top of lawful permanent residents, immigration to the United States is also composed of refugees and immigrants who became naturalized. In 2017, a total of 54,000 refugees were admitted into the United States, while 703,000 immigrants became naturalized.
It is clear that the numbers support the idea that immigration is a big part of this country’s day-to-day workings. It embodies those coming to the United States to make a living, as well as those in the United States looking to employ people. But with all of the different statuses and options available for immigrants, it can be difficult to know which is best for your situation. This raises an important question: when might someone need an immigration attorney?
When it comes down to it, there are multiple scenarios that could require or be helped by utilizing an immigration attorney. First and foremost is if you simply cannot figure out your options. For example, let’s say you are a worker who is skilled and seeking employment. With a clean criminal record, you might qualify for multiple visas or other types of Green Cards. Some of those might be easier or quicker to obtain than others, while others might be the better option.
The aforementioned scenario would be a perfect fit for an immigration attorney. Most immigration attorneys who pride themselves on that title are well-versed in the available options and how they could be best suited to your needs.
Similar situations can also come up in family situations. You might be a married person looking to enter the United States. For you, one option is to enter on an immigrant visa, which gives you an immediate right to a Green Card. Another option is entering on a K-3 visa, which will give you entry so you can later apply for a Green Card via an adjustment of status. One of these options might be more advantageous for you than the other, and an immigration lawyer can help you figure out which one that is.
Another scenario that will likely require an immigration attorney is if you end up in immigration court proceedings. The proceedings might not be finished or you might be on appeal, but your status is solely in the hands of the court. Having an attorney on your side working through those court proceedings can make all the difference in your current application being accepted or denied.
Other situations end up being associated with the USCIS, which is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. The USCIS mission is to efficiently and fairly adjudicate requests for immigration benefits. This entails keeping immigrants out of the United States if they have committed a crime or previously lied to the United States government, among many other things. Each person who comes through and applies to enter the country or applies for a different status is checked to see if they are eligible. If you are found to be inadmissible, you can be blocked from applying for a Green Card or another immigration status, or they can block you anytime you try to cross the border. You could even already have a Green Card, leave the country and then be deemed ineligible upon your return. It goes without saying that an immigration lawyer would be of great assistance in such a situation.
Another common immigration hurdle is a delay. The USCIS may fail to act on or approve an application, leaving you to the wayside and waiting for no solid reason. These delays can end up being months. While a lawyer does not have the power to push anything along, they might have the access needed to ask about delays or problems with your case.
One simple reason why you might need the assistance of an immigration attorney is to help you with the plethora of paperwork. Even the easiest immigration applications involve the filling out of paperwork, and doing so correctly and accurately is paramount. Mistakes can lead to your application being returned, delayed or rejected. Immigration attorneys know the paperwork front to back and will make sure yours is correct and in proper shape to help your application process move along smoothly.
Now, while it seems immigration lawyers are solely for those coming into the United States, they can even be of help to employers looking to sponsor a worker for a Green Card. This process requires completion of the labor certification process, as well as advertisements for the job. Those ads have to meet certain standards with specific language, all while adhering to time constraints and other deadlines.
Taking care of that process can be difficult for the employer, especially with more than just a new hire on their plate of things to deal with. An immigration lawyer can help with that process and make sure both the employer and the new employee get the best out of the situation.
When it comes down to brass tacks, an immigration attorney is a safe bet in many different immigration scenarios and applications. From marriage visas to child, parent and sibling visas and from employment and business immigration Green Cards to adjusting your status, relying on an immigration attorney only improves your success rate.