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Top 10 Immigration Tips

When Title 42 expired, the immigration system reverted to Title 8 processing. It has caused upheaval in the U.S. immigration system, specifically related to border crossings. As the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) noted on June 1, “the United States will continue to face challenges at the Southwest Border."

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has reverted to the more-expedited form of processing and removal that occurred before the pandemic. As a result, border crossings have become more chaotic for those attempting to cross.

Although DHS mentioned continuing "to face challenges," remember that the challenges have grown. Administrative backlogs, for example, have emerged as U.S. immigration services adjust in meaningful ways. There may be longer application wait times and fewer visas issued. You can keep up-to-date with immigration law and changes in visa availability by reviewing the U.S. visa bulletin.

Tips to Help Your Immigration Process Go Smoothly

While many immigration issues extend well beyond matters related only to border crossings, it's important to know as much as possible about the system. Keep in mind that naturalization processes can take far longer than usual. Noncitizens: Be extra attentive to deadlines in visa applications or U.S. citizenship.

To ensure you get all the rights of residency or U.S. citizens, follow these immigration tips.

1. Plan for Delays in Application and Renewal Processes

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is constantly behind schedule. It may be even more behind after the end of Title 42. Some applications can take up to three years or longer to process.

If your green card has expired, don't worry too much. While you'd think immigration authorities (or law enforcement officials working with such authorities) can arrest and even deport you for staying in the United States with an expired green card, that is not the case.

A green card is proof of permanent residency. It is not the status itself. Even someone with an expired card for ten years is still a legal permanent resident. They just don't have proof of their lawful permanent residence. Once they file to renew the card, they receive a letter extending their status. This is extendable until they receive the new card.

As for visa holders, the situation depends on the reason for the change of status. If they apply for a green card, they can legally remain in the U.S. until USCIS adjudicates the case. If applying for a change of status from one non-immigrant visa to another, they can still wait in the U.S. for the decision.

2. Consider Establishing Citizenship in the United States

If you already have a green card and are considering staying in the United States, file to become a U.S. citizen as soon as the laws allow you. Most people can apply for citizenship five years after their green card is issued or three years or less if they have a citizen spouse or obtained their green card through marriage.

Being a U.S. citizen protects you against certain grounds for deportation, which you would be subject to with a green card. Having citizenship also makes your close relatives more likely to secure legal status in the U.S. For more information, see the USCIS website.

3. Avoid Summary Removal

Summary removal refers to border officials' power to turn you away from entering the United States. You can avoid this by preparing yourself to convince border officials that you deserve an immigration visa. They can turn you away if they think you are a security risk or believe you lied to get your immigration visa.

If you are only coming to the United States as a tourist, be sure not to pack anything that would imply you intend to stay, such as a wedding dress or job resume. Particularly after the end of Title 42, you must be careful of the impression you give border officials.

4. Notify USCIS of Address Changes

All immigrants who stay longer than 30 days must notify USCIS of address changes. This notification must be given within 10 days of your change of address. A separate notice must be given for each family member, including children.

You can print, fill out, and mail Form AR-11 or go through USCIS's online change of address service. If you have any applications pending, do not forget to send written notice of your new address to every USCIS office handling your application.

5. File Multiple Immigration Visa Petitions

If you are applying for a green card or immigration visa through the petition of a family member, check if more than one of your family members is eligible to petition for you.

6. Be on Time for Every Appointment With USCIS

Do not ever arrive late for any scheduled appointments with a U.S. consulate or embassy, immigration court, or the USCIS. Being late can result in your deportation or delays to your processing or proceedings.

Since status applications are so time-sensitive, you want to avoid delays at all costs. Timeliness is one of the most important immigration tips.

7. Do Not Violate Any Immigration Visa Provisions or Laws

This is probably the most important immigration tip because the consequences here can be catastrophic. Learn all the requirements of your immigration visa, work permit, or green card, and follow all laws and provisions with extreme care.

The slightest violation can cause your deportation, your immigration visa to be canceled, or even permanently ban you from the U.S. For more information on the laws of various immigration visas and green cards, see U.S. Immigration Basics or the USCIS website.

8. Keep Copies and Stay Current on the Status of Your Application

The USCIS is notorious for habitually losing paperwork. Always send your applications and paperwork to the USCIS via certified mail with a return receipt. Keep a copy.

9. Conduct Research From Reliable Sources

There are common myths, rumors, and beliefs about immigration that are misleading or flat-out wrong, so be careful about who you get your advice from. Your legal situation is unique and may differ entirely from your friends or family. Even USCIS employees sometimes give out wrong and misleading immigration tips and information.

Even if you make a mistake based on something a USCIS employee told you, you, not them, are responsible and will pay the consequences. Do your own research. The information available on the USCIS website is all accurate and reliable. When necessary, consult an immigration lawyer.

10. Get Help From Legislators

If you are having problems, contact your U.S. congressperson. They are usually able to make inquiries for you and can even encourage the appropriate agency to take action or get your application process moving for you.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

The end of Title 42 has not affected DACA. DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Its purpose is to prevent eligible young adults from deportation after they were brought to the United States as children. It also provides such young adults with work authorization for limited periods. Those periods of work authorization are renewable.

For more information about DACA, review FindLaw's What is DACA: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals? You may also learn more about DACA by reviewing USCIS's FAQ page on the program.

Has the U Visa Program Been Affected?

U visas remain an option. If you're the victim of certain crimes, you and other family members may be eligible for a U visa. Noncitizen victims of various crimes, including mental, physical, or sexual abuse, can get a U visa.

Review FindLaw's page on this visa type for more information about U visas. Victims of human trafficking are also eligible.

Need More Help? Contact an Attorney Today

Each immigration case is unique. You'll need a thorough understanding of immigration law and how it applies to your circumstances to know how to proceed. Contact a local immigration law attorney to discuss your situation and hear how they can help you get the immigration benefits you need.

If you are in the midst of any immigration process, it's always a good idea to consult an attorney. If you're amid proceedings under the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), an attorney is an indispensable resource for legal advice. The EOIR is the government agency that adjudicates immigration cases. Immigration attorneys can help you in any proceeding before the EOIR.

For more information and resources on finding an attorney for any of these purposes, review FindLaw's attorney search resource page. Securing the legal services of an attorney is an invaluable resource in any immigration process.

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