Dealing with an immigration case is about as enjoyable as dealing with the DMV. From the long processing times, to the abundance of red tape, seeking immigration status in the United States can be a daunting task. Add to that the unfamiliarity with complex immigration and naturalization laws, and you’re in for a bumpy ride.
In any legal situation where the stakes are high and the process is difficult, our recommendation is to seek the advice of an experienced immigration attorney. Immigration matters certainly fall within this category. However, for those of you who are feeling brave and wish to apply for an immigration benefit on your own, we recommend reading the application instructions and some self-help books for guidance. Learning the basics of immigration law and procedure will go a long way.
Yet, going beyond the basics is what really takes your case to the next level. Attention to detail can speed up your case and increase your chances of approval.
As an introduction to the subtleties of the immigration world, below we list 4 seemingly inconsequential actions that can actually make a big difference in your immigration case.
Reclassification letters. If you are a preference category relative (as opposed to an immediate relative) with a pending case, has your marital status changed? Has your petitioner’s immigration status changed? A divorce or change in petitioner status from lawful permanent resident to U.S. Citizen can greatly reduce the wait time of an intending immigrant; however, it is up to the immigrant to notify the National Visa Center (or, in some cases, USCIS or the Department of State). Notice to immigration authorities of a change in status should be provided in the form of a reclassification letter. Reclassification means that the intending immigrant’s eligibility category has changed due to a new life development such as a divorce or a petitioner naturalizing. The reclassification letter should contain the name and date of birth of the petitioner, name and date of birth of the beneficiary, NVC case number (if applicable), USCIS case number, information about the change in marital or immigration status, and a request to change eligibility category. With the reclassification letter, the immigrant should enclose the civil document (with certified translation to English) reflecting the status change (divorce certificate, naturalization certificate, etc.)
Case status inquiry. Have you been waiting unreasonably long for a decision on your immigration case? You should consider submitting a case inquiry to the appropriate immigration agency. Both USCIS and the National Visa Center now have convenient online forms for the purpose of contacting immigration regarding case status. USCIS requires you to refrain from checking in until the normal listed processing time has passed (estimates of processing times can be found in the USCIS website for each type of application). A case status inquiry may alert immigration officers to the delay and remind them to continue processing your case. If a regular case status inquiry is unsuccessful and you believe you are getting the runaround from immigration authorities, you may consider escalating the matter to a congressional inquiry.
Interview prep. Most immigration cases require an in-person interview prior to their conclusion. Whether you are applying for citizenship, resident status, or asylum/refugee status, you will most likely receive an interview appointment in the USA or overseas. Many applicants assume the interview will simply go over the basics of the application. While a review of your application is certainly part of your interview, an immigration officer may ask for additional information or documents. This is particularly true for the N400 Application for Naturalization, where immigration authorities must conduct tests on English proficiency and Civics. Study your application, study English and civics (if you applied for citizenship), and bring any updated information or documents you should provide. Arriving at your immigration interview prepared shows immigration officers that you are serious about your case and respectful of their time.
Cover letter and Index. By the time you finish preparing your immigration application packet, you may realize it is over a hundred pages. Can you imagine reading through a stack of papers without any direction? Neither can immigration officers! Make it easier for USCIS, NVC and DOS to sift through your application packet. A simple way to do this is by preparing a cover letter and index which carefully describe the documents you are submitting and the order you are submitting them. An application that is easy on the eyes motivates officials to process it.
You need everything in your favor when it comes to immigration. The process is difficult enough without added complications. Simple, common sense actions such as organization, preparation, checking in, and providing updates can make your immigration experience a little smoother.
For more guidance on navigating your immigration case, you should contact our Lake Worth immigration law firm. We are ready to make your life easier by using our legal knowledge and practical experience to fight for your status in the USA.
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