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Is Getting My Green Card Like Visiting the DMV?

The United States used to be considered a global leader in terms of general efficiency. This is the image that comes to mind because of the military victories of World War II, the rebuilding of European alliances after the war, the Apollo space program, the establishment of Detroit as the automaking capital of the world, the rise of Wall Street, and the miraculous profits generated by Silicon Valley. It would be easy to think the underlying efficiency and streamlined bureaucratic processes that resulted in these successes would apply to other aspects of American life, but those who have to deal with their states’ departments of motor vehicles and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will tell you this isn’t the case.

To a certain extent, the process of getting a driver’s license or a state-issued identification card from a DMV office is similar to applying for a green card. In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001, these processes have become mired in complexities and bureaucratic obstacles largely stemming from the passage of the Patriot Act. For immigrants seeking legal residence in the U.S., the problems are exacerbated by a prodigious backlog, limits on the number of visas granted each year, and the immigration policies enacted by the Trump administration since 2017.

When you arrive at the DMV office, you can expect to be issued a number that indicates your place in line. You have to wait for this number to be called, and you may also expect to be placed in a certain queue according to the service you’re seeking. For example, the vision-testing queue may move more slowly than the one for renewing a state ID card or making a change of address. The USCIS issues case numbers when petitions or forms are filed, and there’s a priority attached to each case.

Depending on the service you need to get from the DMV, you may have to wait several hours. One of the reasons DMV procedures are taking longer now compared to the pre-9/11 era is because of enhanced identification and documentation requirements. This also applies when seeking USCIS benefits such as permanent residence, but in a far more restrictive and bureaucratic fashion. Immigrants must also wait for USCIS to notify them when their cases are moving to the next stage of the process, but in recent years, this is something San Diego immigration lawyers and law firms across the country have been handling for their clients because USCIS has been a mess.

The USCIS process for getting a green card is exponentially more complicated than going through the DMV. You seldom hear about having to retain legal counsel to get a driver’s license. In the case of USCIS procedures, your best bet is to always be represented by a law firm. There’s still hope that the next U.S. presidential administration will undo all the immigration disarray caused during the Trump era, but the matter of complete immigration reform still needs to be discussed.

When they need assistance with any issues relating to U.S. citizenship and immigration services, San Diego immigrants should reach out to the experienced attorneys at KS Visa Law. From green cards to family immigration to naturalization, we can address all your immigration-related needs. Call us today at 858-874-0711 to schedule an appointment.

January 2021
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