As we all know, we are living in a time of change. Each day that I research news on immigration visa laws, the predictions seem to change while retaining a tone of uncertainty. I find that articles written in Feb 2017 already differ drastically from articles published in August 2017 concerning visa conditions. According to Business Insider, the rate of green card holders applying for citizenship has more than doubled in the past year in Los Angeles because everyone doubts the future of their ability to safely stay in the United States. No one seems to know what the future will hold for those seeking asylum, refugees, those on work visas, or anyone holding a green card for that matter.
The number of refugees allowed into the U.S. has officially been cut down to 50,000, meaning at least one group of immigrants has started to face a large legal change. Change does seem to be coming, so in times like these, it’s important to remember that the most powerful weapon is knowledge. Accurate legal knowledge and preparation comes from seeking legal counsel or hiring a lawyer, making sure you and those you love know your options and are best prepared for the future. Making mistakes or misunderstanding the terms of your visa or visa application process can cost you your legal right to live in the United States.
This past year I myself have applied for a residency visa in a foreign country and my partner has had to do the same in the United States. Beyond the complexities of the application process (and the fees) there is the issue of notarization and translation, which I had never before previously considered. Many documents require a certified translation and cannot be done by ones’ self or friends. Also, the interview process can be quite extensive, which can be a big obstacle for those that don’t speak English fluently. In late August, the USCIS, or United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, announced that interviews will now be longer and more thorough than before, helping to weed out potential terrorists or threats to the US. Just another reason to be prepared.
Preparing with Immigration Attorneys
A good immigration lawyer can help make every step of obtaining a visa easier. Immigration lawyers have the experience and expertise to help you maneuver through all the application regulations. As we stated in our previous article What Are the Most Common Mistakes for U.S. Immigration Applications, simple mistakes can cause your application and/or visa to be rejected. Especially when English is not the applicant’s first language, small details can be overlooked or documents asked for may not be sent in the correct manner and hence the visa process could be denied or prolonged. In some countries, legal requirements are not taken as seriously as they are in the United States, so an unofficial translation or submitting a copy of a legal document instead of the original wouldn’t be a deal breaker. In the U.S., it definitely is. An immigration lawyer will save money and time in the long term, helping to ensure a successful application process and they will also help you choose a certified translation company to ensure you receive all the benefits of a high quality translation for your immigration documents.
What documents the USCIS requires and how to prepare for the interview
You will need numerous biographical documents and their translations (if they are in another language besides English) ready to apply for your visa. If you are applying for a work related visa, you will additionally need specific documents proving experience and skill. A thorough explanation of what is usually expected by USCIS can be found in our blog article here, but be prepared to at least have your birth certificate, passport, applicable marriage/divorce certificate, school transcripts or diplomas, and criminal history records ready. Once everything is translated, all foreign documents must then be accompanied by affidavits to be notarized. Please note that it’s also extremely important to trust that your information has been kept confident, meaning the third parties that assisted you should be professional and trust worthy. For more information about how to safely and professionally get your documents translated, refer to this article which holds detailed information on what should be considered.
After all the paperwork is filed, you then wait to be called in for an interview with the USCIS. As is the case when you first began your visa application, preparation is key. How comfortable are you answering legal questions in an interview setting in English? USCIS does not provide interpreters, so if one is needed, it’s best to plan ahead of time. Also, make sure you have anything you may need with you, ready to go. Any documents and translations that were needed for your visa should be with you in case they need to be referenced during the interview. Review all of this documentation beforehand to best truthfully answer what is asked of you. The immigration attorney will help you prepare all your documents but you too must be knowledgeable of the information you are presenting. The last but potentially most important thing to do is to make sure you arrive at your interview on time. On time means you should strive to arrive half an hour early. Don’t take any chances, this is your last step in proving you are deserving of a U.S. visa or green card.
What to Expect in the Future
If I held a crystal ball in this changing political environment, I’d love to tell everyone what was soon to come for all of us in the United States in terms of immigration law. As someone currently involved with a green card application myself, I can assure you that the best thing to do at this point is to just be prepared. Research your options. Get lawyer consultations. Have everything you need ready. Avoid mistakes by hiring reputable lawyers and translators like iTi. Also don’t be afraid to reach out with questions! Stay informed and remember, especially in a time when things seem uncertain, accurate knowledge is power.