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Congratulations on your decision to move forward with legal permanent residency in the United States. It is no secret how valuable it is to obtain a green card to live permanently in the U.S. for you, your family, or your employer. You are taking a step that will forever change your life and will allow you to take advantage of a number of opportunities that might not be readily available in your home country.
Depending on your path to residency, you will have to overcome a number of technical and potentially difficult legal barriers before obtaining your green card. Our office not only specializes in immigration law but also in legal permanent residency. We have lots of experience helping clients overcome problems and obstacles that other legal providers say cannot be resolved. Although there are legal issues that can prevent a successful approval, most problems are fixable with the right knowledge and assistance. Since we have dealt with most green card problems, we are well equipped to help clients successfully navigate this process and get their approval.
Preparation, Preparation, Preparation! Assuming you filed your green card process completely and accurately, the last hurdle to overcome is the big interview. I cannot overstate the importance of being prepared for this interview since it can mean the difference between success and failure or opening yourself up to a number of different problems that will lead to additional delay, expense, or even deportation. So, what can you do to prepare for your interview and for the best chances of success?
First, the interview notice is the most important document you will need for your interview since you will quite literally not make it through the door without it. This notice provides the time and place for the interview and includes a very generic (and unhelpful) list of boilerplate language about the interview and a list of recommended documents to take that may or may not apply to your situation. Because this notice is very poorly written, we always conduct a pre-interview appointment with our clients and provide them with the complete set of documents they will need for their specific case so they can avoid making guesses and can confidently appear at the designated location ready to go.
Second, depending on your green card process, you may be required to take another person with you to the interview. Marriage-based green card applicants are always required to have both the husband and wife present to allow immigration to question both people about their relationship, immigration history as well as specifics like the financial situation in the household. Although immigration might decide to question the couple separately, usually the interview is done at the same time. Some interviews may only require the immigrant to be present, so it is important to make sure you read the notice very carefully before heading to the interview site or immigration office.
Third, it is important to remember that the green card process does not require fluency in English (unlike the naturalization process), so you will be required to have an interpreter present or available by phone if you are not able to speak English. It is very important to note that usually, your interpreter cannot be the person who sponsored you (for example, spouse or child). It is a must that the interpreter is competent to speak both languages fluently. The information communicated at an interview is critically important and communicating something incorrectly can destroy your chances of success. Often, the agent won’t even let you continue with the interview if they believe there is not 100% communication on all sides.
Finally, since immigration is so technical and confusing, I always very clearly communicate the following bit of advice to all my clients: you have the right to stop the interview if it feels like you need legal advice. This is especially true for those who filed their own process without the assistance of an attorney. I don’t often have a client actually request an interview be placed on hold, but it has happened unexpectedly when immigration starts asking questions that are either not related to the application already submitted, if the agent is new or unprepared, when the government is trying to limit immigrants coming into the U.S. or if the agent tries to trip someone up and then get them to withdraw their filing. It happens! It is much better to have the final green card approval delayed by months to allow you to speak with an attorney rather than getting denied or having your case referred to the immigration court for a deportation hearing.
If you are just starting your green card journey or if you have already started the process and realize you are not comfortable moving forward without expert immigration assistance, we can definitely help you. The best advice we can provide to you is to not risk it. You have worked too hard and spent too much money to risk getting a denial or opening yourself up to more problems because you were unprepared. Please let us help you succeed by calling today to schedule an appointment at 616-805-3435.