Not using an Immigration Attorney… maybe you should be!

Why is it important to use a licensed immigration attorney? The simple answer- so you are fully informed, applications get filed properly, and most importantly your status in the U.S. is not jeopardized.  This week, Berardi Immigration Law, learned of two cases of how the negative consequences of not hiring a licensed immigration attorney can truly affect a foreign national.

In the first case, our client came to us after using a pre-paid legal service that allows a person to have access to an attorney in their local area for a small monthly fee, instead of the larger fees that a “normal” attorney would charge.  This service filed the application for a green card, but did not tell our client a very important and vital fact…after filing the application, the foreign national could not leave the U.S. until the advance parole request was approved and they had their advance parole document in hand.  Without being advised of this, the foreign national went to Canada with her U.S. citizen husband to visit her relatives for the holidays.  When trying to return to the U.S., the foreign national was refused entry because U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) deemed her green card application abandoned.  Due to lack of knowledge of this key information, our client is now separated from her husband and unable to return to the U.S. to her job.  Managing Partner, Rosanna Berardi has already been in contact with a number of sources at both USCIS and CBP and has laid out a strategy to (1) get the individual back into the U.S.; and (2) get her green card application back on track.  Once she is finally readmitted to the U.S., this client will have to refile the Adjustment of Status portion of her case, thereby incurring additional legal costs and government filing fees.

The second instance comes from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  On January 10, 2013, ICE published a news update warning against the use of immigration consulting businesses.  A man was operating an immigration consulting business in Los Angeles that sought visas on behalf of aspiring foreign actors.  He charged the foreign national approximately $5,000 per case and promised to obtain an O-1 visa for them.  However, he never filed the applications nor return the money when requested by the foreign national.  Because these aspiring foreign national actors did not know that O-1 status could not be obtained unless there is work already pending in the U.S., they fell victim to this consultant’s scheme.

Whether your immigration matter is simple or complex, it is always best practice to seek the counsel of a licensed immigration attorney.  Pre-paid services, immigration consultants, notarios  and even the USCIS website and form instructions do not always provide the type of nuanced information and analysis that may be needed in your individual case.  One little unknown fact can impact your status and future in the U.S.  Therefore, please contact us today to discuss your immigration options.

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