It may be the land of the free and home of the brave, but the world at large is certainly not free to come live in the United States. And while this country was built by immigrants, becoming a tried-and-true American isn’t as simple as knowing all the words to Yankee Doodle.
If you’re starting the process – or right in the thick of it – here’s a head’s up: talk to an experienced immigration attorney (like those working at our firm). An attorney can help you navigate these confusing and unknown waters. Of course, these tips of ours won’t hurt either.
Government agencies aren’t exactly known for running ahead of schedule, and the USCIS (formerly the INS) is no different. What does that mean for you? You should always, always, always plan for delays in the process. That’s why it’s imperative to get your work permit or other paperwork turned in long before it’s actually due.
Are you beginning to see a pattern here? If you have a green card, it’s advisable that you go ahead and apply for U.S. citizenship as soon as you’re able to by law. Not only will your application status help protect you from deportation, but citizenship can really benefit you in the long run – not least of all by getting you closer to your friends and family. Depending on your situation, you may not even be required to wait a full five years after your green card approval to apply. Talk to your immigration attorney for further clarification.
Always report address changes.
Moving is always a hassle, filled with all kinds of errands and tasks. But one task you should never, ever overlook is notifying the USCIS of your change of address. It’s required that you do so within ten days of moving, and if your family members aren’t citizens, keep in mind that every member of the family must send separate notifications. The notification forms are available on the USCIS website, where you can also submit your notification electronically (finally, something easy about immigration!).
Keep the visa petitions coming.
Do you have a family member helping you get a green card? Great! Know what’s even better than that? Having several family members petitioning for your visa. So if your brother has already filed a petition, turn to your sister and solicit her help too. It’s never a bad idea to have multiple petitions in varying categories or on alternate lists.
Don’t break the rules.
A visa is not citizenship, and it certainly doesn’t come with the same freedoms and privileges. In fact, there are strict rules around what you can and cannot do on a work permit, green card or visa. If you violate these terms, you could put your status in jeopardy and possibly face deportation. If you have any questions regarding the terms of your green card or visa, talk to your immigration attorney.
Do some research.
The immigration process is confusing and involved. Don’t trust what you hear from friends and family or stories that start with, “a friend of mine…” Instead of sorting out heresy, just talk to your immigration attorney about your specific situation. He or she can tell you exactly what steps to take in the process.
Keep your paperwork.
We live in a digital age, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep copies of all your immigration paperwork. When you’re sending in paperwork, do so by certified mail and keep records of their receipt. Of course, when you work with an immigration attorney, he or she will keep track of everything for you. Easy!
Got a question about your immigration status or looking for some help getting citizenship? We’ve got your covered. Our experienced immigration attorneys will simplify the process and help you on your path to citizenship.