Many people file immigration paperwork on their own. Like filing an I-130 petition for a family member – that seems easy enough. In fact, the I-130 petition that one has to file for a family member is only two pages long. How can you mess that up? The truth of the matter though is that it’s easy to mess up immigration paperwork, file the wrong thing or put in the incorrect fee and send it off to the wrong location. What does this mean for your case? It usually means delay and/or denial. Sometimes the delay can adversely affect a case. A denial definitely does.
Recently, I’ve seen some messed up cases in my offices that people started on their own and needed us to help them fix. Here are just a few examples:
1. U.S. Citizen files a petition for his sons, living outside of the U.S. Because the dad was not married to his sons’ mother, he needed to put in documentation to show that he supported them growing up as a father would. He didn’t do that – the petition was denied. The really bad thing about this case is that one of the sons is about to age-out (or turn 21). Thus, that almost 21-year old son goes into a different visa preference category, which takes years and years and years (did I say years?) longer. A two-page application has turned into a nightmare for this dad, because he didn’t know the requirements.
2. A U.S. Citizen is about to file a petition for his brother as well as the green card applicaton because his brother is visiting on a tourist visa. He is excited because he believes the brother can wait in the U.S. for the green card. I have to break the bad news that the visa for the sibling of a U.S. Citizen is currently taking more than 13 years to become available. The brother cannot wait here of course, and he needs to return back to his country since he is visiting on a tourist visa (or apply for something else).
3. A U.S. Citizen files for his wife living abroad. He submits all of the documentation to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in addition to the documentation required at the National Visa Center (NVC) stage of his case. His petition for his wife is approved but he does nothing at the NVC stage because he believes he has submitted everything. He in fact has submitted everything like his wife’s original police certificate, their joint sponsor’s tax returns, etc., but as mentioned, to the wrong place. When NVC requests that they submit documents, they do not submit documents with the incorrect belief that USCIS would forward these documents to the NVC. Months and months go by with nothing happening with their case while the wife waits abroad, separated from her husband.
I could give you many more examples – this is just what I’ve seen over the past couple of weeks. Immigration law is complicated, even if the forms seem simple. I promise you – immigration law is not just about “filling out forms”. So many people think this, and they end up in my office – frustrated and sad because their family members are not here with them. Be careful, and let an immigration lawyer guide you through a complicated process.