Immigration procedure to the US can seem simple just like filling up some forms, but it is not like that at all. You can try filling an immigration form on your own or with a notary or form filling agency, but because of the wrong information filled or the wrong box checked, it can cost you your life or your future in the US. If you do not correctly and accurately complete the form that could be the reason to be denied or worse that could be the reason why you end up in deportation proceedings.
Immigration is fact-intensive and involves a thorough analysis of your personal, criminal, immigration history that clients may oversee while filling their immigration law. From a financial perspective, it may seem that it is easier, and cheaper to go with an agency who fills out forms in front of a notary or high volume attorney that is not experienced in immigration laws that are cheaper and offer a free consultation to charge a few hundred dollars to help you fill out your form. However, this can be very dangerous. It is important to remember that these agencies are not attorneys and therefore they can’t represent you or give you legal advice because it is actually against the law.
Notaries or form filler agencies do not get copies of notices that USCIS or the National Visa Center, immigration court, or various other government institutions send, whereas attorneys do. They do not take legal responsibility for the work they have done. They may put some incorrect information in your application form and all of the small mistakes and other misinformation, which will become your mistakes in the process. If the officers make some mistake applying the law or they are trying to mislead you, they will not be there for you, or even if any inappropriate question is being asked you don’t have an advocate with you, to ask for supervisory review of your case because the USCIS officer has overstepped their boundaries of the law. Simply put, you are on your own.
“It is crucial to seek competent legal advice from an experienced attorney for your case and not someone that just fills out a form for a few hundred dollars.” As Pegah Rahgozar, an immigration lawyer in Texas points out in her video pitfalls of filing immigration forms on your own or with notaries (The need to have immigration lawyer) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDudz0C4Ia8&t=27s [Transcription of Some important and relevant parts of the video].
Furthermore, every case is special and every situation needs a different approach. In this article, we will say more about the basics of the most common types of student and family visas.
Different Types of Visa
An experienced attorney can help you with the application process for the Student Visa at the US embassy or to change your status to F1 if you are in the US, as well one can prepare you for the visa interview at the embassy and advise you on your other immigration options. The Immigration and Nationality Act gives two nonimmigrant visa types for persons wishing to study in the US. The “F” visa is reserved for non-immigrants wishing to pursue academic studies and/or language training programs, and the “M” visa is for those wishing to pursue nonacademic or vocational studies. For a family visa type, there is the commonly known term “Green Card” requiring sponsorship by a parent, son or daughter, or spouse. The process begins with the filing of a family petition with CIS, typically followed by an adjustment of status application. However, if the sponsored family member is abroad, consular processing may be required. After holding Lawful Permanent Residence for the required number of years, a good law firm can assist you in obtaining U.S Citizenship. According to Mahsa Khanbabai an experienced business immigration attorney, basic information about the most common visa types (student and family – visit services on her website).
It is crucial to follow the law and to be up to date with all the changes in the area.
COVID-19 and Immigration
Nowadays, there are a lot of changes regarding immigration apparatus, altering daily operations and disrupting the lives of all the applicants. In a very short period in the US, there have been changes from postponing immigration hearings to pausing deportation flights to certain countries and suspending refugee admissions CNN states.
Most of the changes were urged because of the coronavirus outbreak. Firstly, the US and Mexico announced that they’re limiting the nonessential travel across the border to cut movement during the pandemic. The Department of Homeland Security will take serious measures to the people traveling across the border without proper travel documentation. But, that is not all, the US and Canada suspended most of the cross-border travel between the two countries. The Immigrations and Customs Enforcement announced that changes will be made in immigration enforcement operations related to medical care. The Justice Department from the other side closed an additional 10 immigration courts across the country and postponed all the hearings of cases of immigrants that are not in detention. The US paused refugee admissions as well, respecting the International Organization for Migration argument, that it could increase the exposure of refugees to the virus. Other measures were taken as well. ICE suspended some deportation flights to Italy, China and South Korea. USCIS suspended in-person services, including all interviews and naturalization ceremonies to stop spreading the coronavirus. ICE reschedules in-person appointments of immigrants who are not in detention and announced a temporary end to a social visitation at detention facilities.
Other countries made necessary restrictions so the spreading of coronavirus will be voided. On that purpose Guatemala suspended asylum agreements with the US and the US extended the travel restrictions to the UK and Ireland, implementing travel restrictions to the whole of Europe as well. Migrant children were not left out of these changes, the Office of Refugee Resettlement, temporarily stopped placing kids that arrive in the US in shelters in California and Washington state, unless in limited circumstances. The children, according to the announcement, are turned over to HHS after being taken into custody by the Department of Homeland Security.
Because of all of the changes referring to immigration proceedings mentioned above, a coalition of immigration groups is suing the Trump administration in a bid to shut down immigration courts until the coronavirus crisis comes to an end – The hill press reported. The plaintiffs claim that the Department of Justice Executive Officer for Immigration Review’s decision not to suspend immigration hearings puts everyone involved in proceedings at risk for infecting with COVID-19. The real danger is not only for the immigrants, but also to attorneys, judges, and other government personnel. As “LegalReader” reported last week, ICE has been sued across at least a half-dozen states for its failure to mitigate coronavirus in its facilities. Other activist groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, have demanded the agency release elderly or otherwise vulnerable migrants for the foreseeable future – because COVID-19, while extremely contagious, tends to present significantly more serious symptoms in older adults as well as those with pre-existing health conditions, like diabetes or asthma. Federal courts across the country and the Supreme Court have closed down, but immigration courts have continued to operate with significantly less disruption. Policies enacted to suspend in-person hearings apply only to migrants who are not currently detained.