This question reminds me of the old saying: “If you walk into a Barber shop and ask the Barber whether or not you need a haircut, you will leave the Barbershop with a haircut.” Without a doubt, as Immigration Lawyers, we are in the business of selling our services, so we have an obvious interest in being retained. All that aside, my answer to this question is still, “Yes, you should absolutely hire an Immigration Lawyer to prepare and file your forms, and to represent you in connection with the processing of your application for Immigration benefits.”
First of all, I believe that it’s important for clients to understand that they are not just hiring an Immigration Lawyer to prepare and file forms. Filling out and filing forms is just one of the services that an Immigration Lawyer will perform for you. Yes, the forms can be deceptively simple because they appear to simply ask you to provide biographic information, family history, employment history and then check off a few boxes regarding your eligibility.
Understand that before filing any of your forms, an experienced immigration lawyer will analyze all of the facts and circumstances of your particular case to make sure that you qualify for the benefits you are seeking and to make sure that the filing is timed correctly so that it corresponds to any other factors or events in your life, such as circumstances relating to future plans you may have with your family, your employment, your plans to open a business or go to school, or your trip itinerary.
One of the many things that I have learned in my more than 25 year of practice as an Immigration Lawyer is that all Immigration cases and clients are unique. As practitioners, we have to pay special attention to a lot of different factors and keep track of a lot of different moving parts in your life as your case progresses to the point where a decision is made.
Your answers to Questions, such as, for example …
What country are you from?
When, how, and in what immigration status did you enter?
Have you ever applied for immigration benefits in the U.S.?
Do you have any relatives in U.S.?
Have you ever been arrested?
will guide your Immigration Lawyer in fashioning a strategy and a game plan to work toward getting your case approved. Sometimes, we advise our clients that they need to take a step back and hold off on filing until a certain event occurs, a date comes to pass or certain information or documentation is obtained. Other times we may advise our clients that they must file an application immediately in order to lock in eligibility for benefits because a window of opportunity is closing. And sometimes, the facts and circumstances of our client’s particular case might require that applications be filed together; or that they are filed separately because one might need to be approved in order to open up eligibility for another benefit.
Only when all of the facts are on the table and your Immigration Lawyer has completed an in-depth analysis of your case will you Immigration Lawyer prepare and file all of the forms that will be required to apply for your benefits.
New clients should be aware that starting in late 2018, USCIS began implementing a new policy that allows adjudicators to DENY applications WITHOUT EVEN GIVING THE APPLICANT A CHANCE TO CORRECT A DEFECTIVE FILING when required initial evidence was not submitted or the evidence of record fails to establish eligibility. For example, if an applicant is trying to establish eligibility for benefits based upon his marriage to a U.S. citizen, that application could legally be denied if the applicant forgot to include a certificate of marriage with the application. If the application is denied, the filing fees will not be refunded and the applicant will have to start over. This is a major change from a previous policy where USCIS would routinely issue a written Request for Evidence if something was missing in the initial filing, thus giving the applicant a chance to correct the defective filing. A good Immigration Lawyer will make regular use of filing checklists to make sure that your application package is complete in every respect and that all of the required initial evidence is included with each filing.
You should also keep in mind that you will probably have questions and concerns which will arise during the processing of your applications. Your Immigration Lawyer can answer these questions and address your concerns. You may also receive written correspondence or Requests for Evidence from USCIS in which additional documentation will be requested or you will be asked to clarify a fact that relates to your eligibility. Here again, your Immigration Lawyer will assist you in preparing a response and will help you in organizing the required information and documentation that USCIS will need in order to continue processing your application.
Because of the recent increases in processing times, many applications can take a year or longer to be processed from the date of filing to the point that an interview is scheduled or a decision is made. Often times, clients find that they have changes in their particular circumstances, whether it be something relating to their family, their job, or their need to travel outside of the U.S. due to a family emergency. Your Immigration Lawyer will be able to guide you through these new developments and advise you on how to best proceed. There may also be changes in U.S. Immigration law, policy, or enforcement that may affect your case while it is being processed. Here again, an experienced Immigration Lawyer will stay current on these changes and will keep you informed of any that may impact your case so that your chances of obtaining an approval are maximized.
Finally, if an Interview is scheduled on your application, your Immigration Lawyer can prepare you for the Interview and attend it with you. This is something that you will want to clarify up front and make sure that it included in your Retainer Agreement and schedule of services. In my office, preparing for the Interview is something that we devote time and attention to, as it may make the difference between whether a clients case is approved or denied (or whether it’s continued and delayed because the client was unprepared for the Interview). In all cases, I will schedule a mock interview consultation with the client and explain, step-by-step, exactly how the Interview will unfold, and walk the client through the Interview, asking them questions and getting them into the flow of going over their applications, how to present their “story” and how to organize and turn over supporting documentation at the Interview. I also have a list of nearly 100 questions that I have collected at USCIS interviews that I give to my clients to give them a clear idea of what kinds of questions they will be expected to answer. Often, clients will say that they felt so relaxed and confident at the Interview because our preparation session and discussions made them feel as if they had already done the Interview … because it unfolded exactly as I said it would.
Would you rather prepare and file the forms on your own, or hire an Immigration Lawyer who has already prepared and filed hundreds, if not thousands of the same forms that you are getting ready to file? I have been an Immigration Lawyer for over 25 years and during this time have represented and worked with more than 1,000 clients from over 60 countries on immigration cases of all kinds … family-based, employment-based, deportation/removal cases in the U.S. Immigration Court, Asylum cases, and appeals before the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals. When you retain my firm, you are investing in your future. While I cannot guarantee the outcome of your case, what I can promise you is that if you hire my firm to represent you and let me bring my years of experience and knowledge to the table, that I will improve your chances of getting your application or petition approved.
To schedule a consultation with South Florida Immigration Lawyer Sean D. Hummel in order to discuss your applications for U.S. Immigration benefits, call (954) 385-3111 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special Note. The information on this blog is of a general nature and is not intended to answer any individual’s legal questions. Do not rely on the information presented in this blog to address your individual legal concerns. If you have a legal question about your individual facts and circumstances, you should consult an experienced U.S. Immigration Lawyer.