There are many reasons to start over in a new country, and each situation comes with a unique set of circumstances. This is true not only in your personal life, but in the application process as well. For example, there are different regulations for student VISAs, permanent resident status (green cards), and full citizenship. Furthermore, there are additional considerations to take into account if you’re married or have children. Sometimes, the nuances between these numerous classifications lead to easily avoidable errors. Below, I will discuss some of the most common immigration mistakes.
One of the biggest errors I encounter is failure to submit all of the necessary paperwork. Each classification requires you to submit at least one government form, but you’re often encouraged — or even required — to submit additional supporting documents. Supporting documents, like utility bills, marriage licenses, and arrival and departure records prove further details about you, such as your address, the validity of your marriage, and proof that you traveled legally. The supporting evidence you need varies depending upon the type of documentation you’re seeking (a student VISA, a green card, permanent citizenship, etc.), but an attorney can tell you which documents you need and how to go about obtaining them.
Unfortunately, there are people who take advantage of vulnerable immigrants who are unfamiliar with the laws and systems of our country. If someone other than an attorney offers to help you through the immigration process, beware. Notary publics (sometimes referred to as a “notarios”) frequently offer their services for hundreds — or even thousands — of dollars to unsuspecting immigrants. Although notaries are qualified to prepare immigration documents, they are not trained in immigration law itself. Only an attorney can advise you on how to answer questions, how to get a friend or relative legal status, and how to dispute an unfair denial or late application.