Immigrating to the US: Five Pitfalls to Avoid

The process of legally immigrating to the United States is often long and complex. And there are many pitfalls which can trip you up along the way. In this blog entry, we identify five of these common mistakes to avoid:

Don’t depend on the government to keep track of your paperwork. Lost and misfiled paperwork is a common problem during the immigration process, so be sure to keep duplicates of everything. Send important paperwork by certified mail. If you need to renew anything, turn in your paperwork well ahead of time.

Don’t forget to notify USCIS of address changes. Failing to report an address change is a simple mistake that can create major problems. All address changes must be reported within 10 days, and failure to report an address change can potentially result in removal from the U.S. As with all paperwork, it’s wise to make copies and return the forms by certified mail.

Beware of scams. Sadly, there are thousands of green card and visa scams out there preying on innocent victims. There are scams that claim you can increase your chances of getting a lottery green card by paying a fee, but no organization can increase your chance of being selected. There are websites that charge fees for government forms, but government forms are always available for free from the issuing agency. There are many websites that offer a green card for a fee, but green cards are only available through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. Most of these scams are simply attempting to steal your money, but some also intend to steal your identity. Only pay fees to the proper government entities, and don’t reveal personal information if you’re not certain you’re dealing with an official U.S. government agency.

Be careful not to violate the terms of your visa. If you’re in the U.S. on a student visa, it’s important to keep going to classes and to get approval before changing your course of study. If you’re here on a work visa, you must be careful to work only in the area and at the position listed on your visa. If you are in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident or as a visa holder, be certain you understand the regulations if you plan to leave the U.S. and then return. A lawful permanent resident, for instance, needs to apply for a reentry permit if he or she resides outside the U.S. for longer than a year.

Be on time for every appointment. This is another one of those seemingly minor items that can have big repercussions. Missing an appointment with the USCIS or a consulate can mean delays in your application or even–in extreme cases–deportation.

If you’re facing an immigration matter, we want to assist. Please contact us today to learn more!

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