Immigration Legal Tips
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed June 20, 2016
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The majority of immigration processes involve multiple steps, strict deadlines, and plenty of paperwork. This section offers useful tips for navigating the immigration system, identifying potential problems before they arise, and getting a handle on some of the finer points of immigration law. These tips can make the difference between a smooth and easy immigration process and a nightmarish ordeal filled with delays. Articles include a collection of frequently asked questions, a primer on how to avoid immigration fraud, and a list of the top ten immigration tips.
Before applying for immigration benefits, be certain to research carefully. Take the time to consult several different resources and ask questions. There are many common myths, rumors, and beliefs about the immigration system that can be misleading or entirely incorrect. Your legal situation can differ significantly from someone else's and the immigration rules can change very quickly. As such, the personal experience of another applicant may not provide the information you need and others, even USCIS employees, may not always give the right information.
When planning your immigration process it is best to understand that the system tends to move very slowly. Depending on the type of application you are pursing, there can be delays that run into months or years before you are able to claim a benefit (such as a visa or a change in status). The immigration service provides some indication of processing times for different applications on their website. Be aware of how long applications are currently taking and understand that the actual wait may be even longer than their projections suggest so you can plan accordingly.
Documentation is a very important aspect of the immigration process. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) manages a high volume of applications. Each application has strict requirements and must be accompanied by supporting documents. Because of the large number of applications and the wide variety of evidence required, it is wise to maintain accurate copies of all documents you submit to the USCIS. The agency is notorious for losing paperwork and the copies will serve as proof that the documents were submitted, as well as allowing for resubmission of any papers that go missing.
It is also important to update the USCIS if there are any address changes if you move while an application is pending. If there are multiple applications, you should send a change of address notification to every USCIS office that is handling an aspect of your application. If there are other family members in the midst of an application process, separate address change notifications will need to be sent for each person. Failure to update the USCIS about changes of address can result in delay or denial of your application.
Look to secure benefits and keep them by filing multiple petitions (where possible) and applying for citizenship when you are eligible. Be aware of the immigration laws and regulations and avoid violating them. By pursuing benefits as soon as you can and avoiding situations that could complicate an application, you can make your process uncomplicated and more successful.
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