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The Cost of Do-It-Yourself Immigration Mistakes

As much as the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) wishes to streamline and simplify its processes for the sake of applicants, the reality suggests that the path to legal status in the U.S. is still a bureaucratic affair that confounds many immigrants. 

Many of the USCIS application forms are accompanied by detailed instructions for immigrants who choose to take the do-it-yourself approach to filing. The premise is that the applicant does not need to be a lawyer to complete the forms or to follow instructions, which are often available in several languages other than English.

While the USCIS instructions underscore the need for applicants to be careful and to pay close attention when they are completing application forms like the H1-B or J-1 visa and gathering supporting documentation, little is mentioned about the potential consequences of making mistakes.

Not all immigration forms that are incorrectly completed can be amended without consequence. Filling out the incorrect forms can result in the loss of filing fees, but this is not the costliest mistake. If the USCIS misunderstands an immigration lapse for an attempt at defrauding the system, removal proceedings may follow.

Immigrants awaiting permanent residency may incorrectly assume that they can leave the country for a few months and return to pick up their green cards. This may result in resetting the application process to the beginning. Engaged couples may become separated if the immigrant fails to disclose a discharged or dismissed criminal offense in their countries. In asylum cases, an immigration blunder can result in being denied a chance at living with freedom and dignity.

One of the major goals of the immigration reform proposed by the U.S. Senate a few years ago is to streamline the application processes so that the margin of error can be reduced. Unfortunately, reform has no clear date for approval and implementation.

A do-it-yourself approach to immigration is a flawed concept because each case is unique. After all, unique lives are found behind all the application packets reviewed by USCIS officers on a daily basis. The best approach is to allow a seasoned San Diego immigration lawyer review each case for the purpose of determining the right course of action.

For more information or to find a trusted immigration lawyer, reach out to Kazmi and Sakata Attorneys at Law. Our trusted and experienced lawyers would be happy to schedule a free immigration consultation in San Diego and learn more about your particular case. Call (858) 874-0711.

July 2024