When you marry a United States citizen, you may become eligible for a marriage-based green card. Marriage and green cards have complex rules and regulations. Depending on the citizen status at the time of marriage, you may or may not qualify for the green card. Moreover, it also matters if the person has entered the United States legally.
If you want to get immigration benefits similar to your spouse, you must have a legal marriage. Let’s say that you have overstayed a visa or have an unlawful presence in the United States. Gladly, you can still apply for a marriage green card.
However, the process is complex and may require professional help. You may be confused about whether you need to hire an immigration lawyer or not. In this article, we will guide you if you need a lawyer for your marriage green card application. Moreover, we will help you with how to find the best marriage green card lawyer.
Do I Need an Immigration Lawyer?
When it comes to applying for immigration, this is a serious business. This is something you don’t want to food around with!
Many websites show that a marriage green card application is as simple as filling out a form, printing it, and dropping it at an immigration office. However, it is not that simple.
Going without a lawyer may result in a small mistake, which may not be a big deal for you. However, these small mistakes can result in serious complications. Green card application is a sensitive matter that must be handled professionally. Not only does it affect you but may also affect your spouse and children.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services shared a press release in 2015. They revealed that the new form I-485 (permanent residence) takes an average of 6.5 hours to fill completely. In addition, you need to attach more documents with the application, which will require more time.
Many people believe that they can fill out the form until they start the process. Now, they realize that it’s not a walk in the park. Ultimately, they reach out to a professional lawyer to submit their application.
What Does an Immigration Lawyer Do?
While hiring an immigration lawyer, it is important to understand their job. When you are familiar with their responsibilities, you can get the most out of your hiring. An immigration lawyer can perform a number of tasks. From preparing a visa application to applying for political asylum, they can handle many things for you. The United States doesn’t offer separate licenses for various legal areas with few exceptions. Hence, an immigration lawyer can work in any area of the law.
Some responsibilities of immigration lawyers are the following, among others:
- Handle deportation disputes initiated against their customers
- Represent their customers before immigration courts in a range of matters
- Assist the United States employers in hiring or retaining foreign workers
- Prepare permanent residency, visa, citizenship petitions, and adjustment of statuses
- Get immigration benefits for friends and relatives of US permanent residents and citizens such as a spouse
- Apply for humanitarian benefits and political asylum for their clients
How Do I Find an Immigration Lawyer?
Now, you are familiar with the job description of an immigration lawyer. It is time to discuss how to find the best immigration lawyer.
Word of Mouth
First of all, you need to talk to your friends and relatives who have used an immigration lawyer. Ask them to share their experience and try to learn as much as possible. It will help you create a list of attorneys who can assist you. Moreover, you can expand this list but doing some online research.
Check Client Reviews
When you visit your potential lawyers, make sure you ask them for references. A lawyer with a good reputation would be more than happy to give you references. Talk to their clients and get their feedback on the lawyer. It will be a deciding factor when choosing an immigration lawyer.
Trust Your Intuition
When you meet a person, your mind gives you hints about whether they will be able to give you any benefit or not. Never ignore your intuition. If your mind is telling you that there is something wrong, move on to the next client. Simple as that!
How One Become an Immigration Lawyer?
An immigration lawyer is a practicing lawyer who chooses to focus on immigration law. Before you can practice, you need to meet a number of requirements. Do you want to know how long it takes to become an immigration lawyer? Let’s find out.
First of all, you need to obtain a bachelor’s degree. And then you need to move to a law school to get the Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. Most law school programs are three years. However, some online programs can take up to 4 years.
Usually, students who want to become immigration lawyers choose a specialization in immigration law. It is not q requirement but helps you in the future. Moreover, it makes it easy to get your law license.
During the studies and afterward, it is important to get firsthand experience. Make sure that you take every internship offered and volunteer wherever possible. In addition, you can look for part-time jobs to get experience. Remember that clients want to hire a lawyer who has experience with immigration law.
Last but not the least, immigration lawyers develop their skills and try to get a few additional certifications. These certifications are required but increase the chances of getting new clients. For instance, Texas and North California offer specifications in immigration law through their bar associations. When you get these certifications, it shows your competence.
The Bottom Line
A marriage green card application is not as easy as you may think. There are many areas where you can make a mistake that may result in delay or disapproval of your application. Your immigration defines your ability to work in the United States along with your family. Hence, it is recommended that you hire a professional immigration lawyer who has the experience to handle marriage green card applications.
Richard Herman is a nationally renowned immigration lawyer, author and activist. He has dedicated his life to advocating for immigrants and helping change the conversation on immigration. He is the founder of the Herman Legal Group, an immigration law firm launched in 1995 and recognized in U.S. World News & Report’s “Best Law Firms in America.” He is the co-author of the acclaimed book, Immigrant, Inc. —Why Immigrant Entrepreneurs Are Driving the New Economy (John Wiley & Sons, 2009). Richard’s poignant commentary has been sought out by many national media outlets, including TheNew York Times, USA Today, BusinessWeek, Forbes, FOX News (The O’Reilly Factor), National Public Radio, Inc., National Lawyers Weekly, PC World, Computerworld, CIO, TechCrunch, Washington Times, San Francisco Chronicle and InformationWeek.