Tips for Avoiding U.S. Immigration Trouble: Part 1

Immigration into the U.S. can be a complicated procedure. Here are 4 tips to help keep the process going smoothly, and prevent any future trouble.

Delays happen, plan for them. If you are currently in the United States and your work permit is in need of renewing, be aware that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS, previously called the INS) has an extremely large back-log to work with. Compensate for this by turning your application in well ahead of schedule. Do not wait until the last minute. This is especially relevant if your current legal status has an expiration date. You can be arrested by immigration authorities if you are out of status.

Consider citizenship. If you are in possession of a green card, go ahead and file for U.S. citizenship as soon as you legally can. Not only will this protect you from deportation, but it will also help get a more secure status for all your close family members. The general rule is that after getting a green card, most people have to wait 5 years before applying for citizenship, but some people can apply sooner.

If your address changes, notify the USCIS immediately. If you are spending more than a month in the U.S., you are required to notify USCIS of address changes within 10 days. Every single family member must send address change notifications separately. You can either mail in a Form AR-11, or fill out the USCIS’s online change of address form, both available on the USCIS.gov website. Also, if you have multiple USCIS offices handling your application, make sure to let them know separately too. Otherwise, they may not hear of the address change at all.

File more than one visa petition. If you are planning to get a green card through a family member, check and see if more than one family member is able to submit the visa petition for you. For example, a brother and sister could both submit separate filings for you, as could their spouse or parent. That way, just in case particular categories have longer waits, you already have a different option in the works.

Please stay tuned to future entries for more tips on U.S. immigration.

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