Jamaica Magazine

Common Mistakes to Avoid when Applying for Immigration Benefits

Written by Safiya Byars, Esq

The Immigration laws of the United States are governed by complex statutes, internal Immigration memorandums and case law. Consequently, it can be quite daunting for a non-citizen to maneuver his or her way through the entire immigration process. This article will address some common mistakes that clients usually make in applying to Immigration for benefits. I will also offer some easy solutions for those individuals who feel compelled to go through the process by themselves.

The most common mistake that non-citizens make is that he or she assumes that he or she qualifies for a certain benefit because friends or family have acquired an immigration benefit. The key to applying and receiving immigration benefits is knowledge. You and/or your attorney or your family members must take some time to find out the requirements to acquire a certain immigration benefit.  If you are unable to hire an attorney then you may need to at least schedule a consultation with an attorney to find out if you qualify for a benefit.  It is important to visit the Immigration website at www.uscis.gov to try and get some general information. Also, if all else fails, you may need to contact Catholic Social Services or get assistance from a pro bono (free) immigration attorney. It is never a good idea to submit an application if you are unsure if you qualify for benefits. Also, it is never advisable to submit an application to Immigration with false information. The reason for my warning is that immigration forms are not just forms. Each question on an immigration form is based on the law and it is designed to determine if you are eligible for a benefit or if you are deportable. Furthermore, once you have completed the immigration form and signed it you have just sworn under oath that all the information is correct. Hence, in the event that the information is false the U.S government will deny your application and can choose to prosecute you for submitting fraudulent information to the U.S Government. In addition, Immigration’s new policy is to automatically place individuals in removal proceedings once their immigration petitions have been denied. The lesson is that immigration forms are serious business. You need to know the law before you apply. If you don’t know the law you need to hire a professional to represent you.

The second most common mistake that non-citizens make is twofold. The typical scenario involves a non-citizen that submits his or her application in one state and then promptly moves to another state. The non-citizen is then concerned because he or she has not received any confirmation from Immigration that the application is being processed. Please note that the postal service does not forward mail from Immigration to you even if you have submitted a change of address to the postal service. Under the Immigration laws all non-citizens who apply for immigration benefits must notify Immigration within 10 days if they change their address. Non-citizens must submit a change of address form to Immigration. The change of address form is an AR-11 form and it can be found and downloaded at the Immigration website at www.uscis.gov. The other mistake that most non-citizens make is that they send important documents and filing fees to Immigration without first making a copy of the documents. Also, to make matters worse they send their important documents to Immigration via regular mail. In this scenario, the non-citizen does not have a copy of his or her documents. Consequently, if Immigration or the postal services misplaces the documents, the non-citizen will have no recourse but to begin the application process again.
Finally, the most common mistake to avoid is that the non-citizen believes that Immigration will assist him or her with his or her applications. It is important to remember that whenever you personally apply to Immigration for any benefits, by law, it is your responsibility to prove that you meet all the requirements to receive your benefits. Immigration officials do not work for the non-citizen. Immigration works for the United States government and therefore Immigration has no obligation to assist you or provide you with legal advice. Therefore it is important to know the law before you apply.  In addition, it is important to know what documents are needed to prove you eligibility for benefits. and make multiple inquires as to the status of your petition.

In closing, the above-referenced mistakes are easily avoided if you invest in adequate preparation. Always remember that your immigration case is your responsibility. Therefore, you must know the eligibly requirements, organize your documents and make copies of all documents that you send to immigration. In addition, do not trust the postal service or Immigration with your documents. Always send your documents to Immigration via certified mail with return receipt or express mail with delivery confirmation. Finally, once Immigration has received your petition and your case is pending, never assume that your job is complete. You must make sure that Immigration has your correct address at all times. In addition, if Immigration sends you a request for additional documents or requests additional information you must respond. Finally, if you believe that your petition is outside of the usual processing time, you must contact Immigration via customer service at 1-800-375-5283

About the Writer:
Safiya Byars is a senior immigration attorney in Norcross, Georgia. She is a native of Jamaica and has personal experience with the difficulties of maneuvering the Immigration system. Safiya Byars has served as the senior immigration attorney with boutique immigration firms in both Alabama and Georgia. There is a $150.00 consultation fee to discuss your case with attorney Byars. The consultation fee must be paid before discussing your case. To discuss your case, please contact Attorney Byars at  404-992-6506  or via email.

About the author

Safiya Byars, Esq

Safiya Byars is the founder and senior partner of the Byars Firm. Attorney Byars serves as the Chair of the Family Immigration Continuing Learning Education and the Vice-Chair of the Immigration Law Section of the State Bar of Georgia. She is a native of Kingston, Jamaica. The Byars firm is located at 3720 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Suite D2, Chamblee, Georgia 30341. The Byars Firm handles Immigration, Family, and Estate Planning matters. We can be reached at 678-736-5600 and email: [email protected]