You may have many questions about immigration opportunities, the application process, and changes in the law. Speaking to a DC immigration attorney is the best way to get the answers you are looking for, but we have also provided a number of resources on this site to help explain how immigration works in the USA. However, we believe there are three important things everyone should keep in mind about the immigration system and process.
#1 The Immigration System is Very Complicated
Number one, the immigration system is extremely complicated. Many people refer to it as a broken system, and in many aspects I would agree. There are a lot of problems like extraordinarily long backlogs, and unintended consequences of labyrinthine and multi-layered legislation. One very important thing to understand is that you need to really know your options and to know what obstacles you will have in your case before starting.
A lot of times people are surprised by this. They may have had a friend who applied for some sort of status and think that they qualify as well, or they may get advice from a message board online, a “notario,” or somebody who’s not a full-fledged immigration attorney, and it might be bad advice. In immigration law, applying for something you’re not eligible for or submitting some bad advice can hurt your case. That’s one thing people should know.
#2 The Wait Times Are Very Long
Another thing people should know is that in many cases, unfortunately, the wait times can be extremely long. For instance, if you’re waiting for a certain type of family-based petition, you could be waiting well over a decade after the approval of your initial petition before your priority date becomes current. Another thing that can take a long time is the actual adjudication of cases by USCIS and the immigration courts. Right now, we’re getting initial court dates in Arlington set all the way out in November of 2019 – so it’s a more than four-year wait for people even to get the ball rolling on their case. It’s a shockingly slow-moving bureaucracy and people need to be prepared for that.
#3 Always Know Your Status and The Terms of That Status
One final important thing to remember is that you need to fully understand what status you are in and what the terms of that status are at all times. This is true whether you are in front of the immigration court or whether you’ve never had any issues whatsoever with your legal status. Some very minor things can end up destroying your status in some situations. For instance, if you’re here on a student visa and you’re working more than you’re authorized to work or you have off-campus employment that’s not authorized, or even if you drop a few classes and fall below the class schedule requirement, it can place you in violation of your status and you may be placed into removal proceedings.
If you depart the U.S., it could also lead to your inability to return to the United States. Certain criminal offenses can do the same thing, as well as a variety of other types of behavior like overstaying your allotted time here. So, you really need to understand your status, what’s allowed and not allowed while you’re in it, and be cognizant of that at all times.