Wednesday, July 11, 2018

A Few Immigration Preps

It's no surprise to anyone that our immigration system is a hot mess.  The latest news is that some American citizens may have been separated from their families(!) and that other immigrants who were promised citizenship if they joined the military are now being discharged without any notice (or chance at citizenship apparently).  Here are a few immigration preps to consider:

  • First off, if you overstay your visa or otherwise try to sneak into the country to stay I have no sympathy for the mess you end up in.  Most Americans prefer that people be on the up and up legally before garnering any sort of support for their cause.
  • If you are coming to the US legally (with a tourist visa, education visa, H1b employment visa, spouse/fiance visa, etc), for the love of all that's holy, follow the rules.  There are many rules that come with each type of visa which are spelled out (if you can or can't work, when you must leave/time limits for staying, etc) which need to be followed to the letter to stay in status and avoid legal issues.
  • Don't commit a crime.  Committing a crime while in the US on any sort of visa or even if you have a permanent resident card ("green card"), can be grounds for deportation.
  • If you have a conditional permanent resident card, have the conditions lifted as soon as possible.
  • Renew your visa or permanent resident card prior to it's expiration date (not doing so can lead to deportation and a three or ten year ban from re-entering the country in some cases).
  • Don't try to scam the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services).  Sham marriages, fake paperwork, making a slight change to your personal data so past problems in your home country don't show up on a background check...they've seen it all and are not amused.
  • Become a citizen as soon as possible.  One problem with staying a permanent resident forever is that any legal issues one has could become grounds for deportation (which is not true once a person becomes a citizen barring fraud or other very rare circumstances).
  • Get a US passport as soon as you become a citizen.  This is definitive proof of your citizenship and more practical to carry around than your naturalization paperwork.
  • Keep all of your immigration documents together in one place.  This should include copies of applications you have submitted, copies of all supporting documentation, any letters received from USCIS, your naturalization certificate, etc.  Be sure to make digital copies of all of these things and leave back-ups of these files on your computer.
  • Take photos of your immigration certificate and passport and keep these photos on your cell phone as well as your computer for use in an emergency.
  • For any questions or problems with immigration issues, connect with a well-regarded immigration attorney for assistance (not friends, not faceless strangers on the internet, not need definitive answers from someone who actually knows immigration law).

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