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Common Mistakes People Make When Filing An Immigrant Petition

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Immigration law is a complicated area filled with unique issues and complexities. Having an experienced attorney guide you along the way can help ease the anxieties that you as a petitioner or a beneficiary can expect to experience.

By relying on their experience to file the petition, you increase your chances of getting a positive result and the opportunity to start a fresh new life in the United States of America.

Trying to obtain U.S. citizenship yourself can be quite a challenge, and your chances of failing are much higher than the chances of sending in a successful petition. While doing so, petitioners and beneficiaries often commit significant errors that could lead to a failed application.

If you’re planning on submitting an immigrant petition, avoid these common mistakes to improve your chances of approval:

1. Failure to provide the supporting documentation that is required as part of the immigrant petition filing with the USCIS.

Applicants may mistakenly think that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) either does not need or already has certain documents in its file. Maybe there was a past filing by either the petitioner or the beneficiary, and therefore, the assumption by the petitioner is that the USCIS will not need the same documents again. However, that is a mistaken assumption, because USCIS receives a lot of filings each day, and they have no way of knowing whether specific documents may be already in the USCIS’s possession or not.

USCIS is also required to review each petition as a new case and adjudicate each petition based on existing and available documents that are contained in the file in front of the adjudicator. So, if the adjudicator does not have the paperwork in front of him/her, then the adjudicator will presume that it was not submitted by the petitioner and issue a request for further evidence (RFE) notice, if applicable. In the worst case scenario, the USCIS can even deny the petition outright for failure to submit the proper documents.

USCIS also needs properly translated (into English) supporting documents. By submitting documents in the native language (non-English), it will result in the issuance of a ‘Request for Further Evidence’ notice by the USCIS, which can unnecessarily delay the adjudication process as well.

That is why it is prudent to have an experienced attorney assist with the document gathering and preparation, to review the documents first so that the attorney can advise the petitioner during the course of the petition preparation, and even have the attorney submit the petition on behalf of the petitioner to the USCIS.

2. Not disclosing relevant information (or providing incomplete information) in the immigrant petition regarding either the petitioner or the applicant.

Sometimes the petitioner and/or the beneficiary fail to complete the requisite USCIS forms properly, and that includes basic biographic information. This is a matter of checking the forms for typographical and clerical errors before submitting the petition to the USCIS. Incomplete information may affect the overall eligibility of the petitioner to sponsor, or the beneficiary’s eligibility to receive immigration benefits, i.e., legal status; marital status; prior criminal record/arrests; prior immigration violations and/or removal proceedings.

An experienced attorney at LAW IMM will counsel and advise the petitioner and/or beneficiary about being upfront with any prior conditions and will advise on the best course of action before even proceeding with the actual petition submission.

3. Delaying or waiting until the last minute to either file the petition or responding to request for further evidence issued by the USCIS after the initial filing.

Some immigration benefits are time-sensitive (i.e., the beneficiary ages out by reaching twenty-one years of age), and the petitioner and/or beneficiary either is not aware of such deadlines; or the petitioner may assume that the deadline does not apply in their situation; or they believe that have more time than actually allowed to submit a particular immigrant petition and/or benefit to the USCIS. Sometimes the petitioner is waiting to submit the petition because he/she is not sure about how to proceed. Mostly, the petitioner and/or beneficiary simply may be unaware of time constraints.

At times like these, an experienced attorney is needed. The attorney can review the case history, facts and circumstances of the case and ask relevant questions of the case with the petitioner and/or beneficiary and can advise on timing and deadline issues.

4. Not being properly prepared for the USCIS field office interview (i.e., failure to discuss in specificity with the beneficiary spouse and/or family member about the basics of the immigrant petition.

If an in-person interview is required at the local USCIS field office (and now both the family-based as well as employment-based immigrant petitions all require this step), both the petitioner and the beneficiary need to know the contents of what they had previously prepared/completed and submitted to the USCIS. This may seem self-explanatory, but this is not always followed up. This extends to the petitioner and the beneficiary’s responsibilities to each other to be able to discuss their relationship and biographical history with the USCIS interviewer.

At the time of the interview, the USCIS officer is not just looking to review the filed immigration paperwork. He/she is also observing the petitioner and the beneficiary’s level of interaction and how they relate to each other up close. This is crucial because the USCIS officer has full discretion to grant or deny immigrant benefits based on how he/she perceives as the genuineness, or lack thereof, of the direct interaction between the petitioner and the beneficiary. Petitions have been approved and/or denied based on such in-person observations by the USCIS officer.

Therefore, it is important that the petitioner and the beneficiary be fully prepared for such an interview. And this is where an experienced attorney can help the petitioner and the beneficiary by giving pointers about what kinds of questions could be raised by the USCIS officer, and how to best prepare for such types of questions, by anticipating how to answer them. Without such legal help, the petitioner and the beneficiary would face a great deal of uncertainty about the interview process itself, as well as face difficulties about the approval of the petition itself.

5. Being overly optimistic about how the USCIS adjudication unit or officer will treat the applicant’s answers and/or supporting documentation.

Whether the petitioner filed the immigrant petition him/herself, or with the assistance of legal counsel, it is best to be reasonable and practical about the outcome of the petition. It is not reasonable to expect an approval of the petition just because the petitioner believes that the minimal supporting documents and/or information were submitted to the USCIS.

It usually helps to have an expert attorney review the case file and perhaps even help with the actual petition preparation and submission to the USCIS, so that the risk of any issues arising from the petition can be minimized or managed with proper preparation. Having an attorney guide the petitioner and the beneficiary and setting realistic goals and expectations about the immigration process as a whole can help the petitioner and/or beneficiary with their anxiety levels, which is understandably high.

6. Not hiring an immigration attorney.

By securing the services of an experienced immigration attorney, the petitioner and/or beneficiary can minimize the risks of:

a. Submitting the immigrant petition with incorrect information, typographical /data entry mistakes, or providing inconsistent information on the application forms;

b. Making sure that the petition contains complete answers and information, along with including the necessary supporting and/or explanatory documentation;

c. Completing the wrong forms (i.e., maybe even using an outdated form) during the course of the immigrant petition process;

d. Filing for benefits that the petitioner and/or beneficiary may not be eligible in the first place;

e. Mailing the immigrant petition to the wrong mailing address as provided by the USCIS (and its related issue: submitting the wrong filing fee amounts).

If you're considering immigrating to the U.S., reach out to the experts atPasricha & Patel, LLC. As expert U.S. immigration attorneys, we have been helping individuals fulfill their United States immigration needs since 1995. For a complete list of our services, please click here. If you have any questions about immigration law, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact us here.