Filing for adjustment of status, also known as the “green card” is a lot more than simply filling out a few forms. I have gone through the process personally as well as with my clients for over 16 years. Below are some of the mistakes people have made when filing on their own.
Mistake #1 – Not understanding the alien’s current immigration status.
Adjustment only works if the alien can prove that he or she entered the US with permission (what USCIS calls “with inspection”) meaning that the alien talked to immigration officers at the border or airport and was allowed into the country. If the alien entered without permission, then we need to look at waivers and if the alien is eligible for special programs.
Mistake #2 – Not Filling out all of the required forms.
A simple application takes seven to nine different forms to be completed. According to the Office of Management and Budget of the White House, it takes a little over 21 hours and a half hours to complete the forms and gather the supporting documents.
Mistake #3 – Not having the supporting documents.
You have to prove that the marriage is real and not just for immigration reasons. You have to prove that any prior marriages have ended. You have to prove that you are not “inadmissible” because of past actions. You have to prove that there is enough financial support available for the alien. You have to prove each aspect of the application.
Mistake #4 – Not having the Affidavit of Support.
The affidavit of support is a critical part of the application and one that most people do not understand. The requirements of the Affidavit of Support both for filing the application as well as after the application is approved are substantial.
Mistake # 5 – Not sending your packet to the right location.
Each application for benefits goes to a different location. Even the same forms, based upon why you are applying go to different locations. It is important to know the correct location or immigration, after a few weeks, will reject the application and tell you to send it to the right location.
Mistake # 6 – Not telling the whole truth.
The biggest mistake you can make is to lie or fail to disclose something on the documents you submit or in your adjustment interview. If your case is approved, the USCIS will forgive the fact that you overstayed your visa, the fact that you worked without permission, and even some minor criminal issues. But if you lie or fail to disclose something, the USCIS will deny your application. For the alien, that may mean removal from the US. Even the US citizen spouse is in jeopardy because lying to the USCIS is a crime.
Mistake # 7 – Moving.
If you do not have a lawyer, the USCIS will send all notices to the address you give when you file. If you move during the application process, you have to notify USCIS. But in my experience, the USCIS has a terrible track record with address changes – they often continue to send notices and information requests to your old address – even if you file the required papers to change your address. If they send an interview notice or information request and you don’t respond – they deny your case.
Mistake # 8 – Leaving the US.
The 10 year ban kicks in when the alien leaves the US. Filing your adjustment papers does not change your immigration status or give you the right to re-enter the US. Many aliens are understandably eager to visit their home country after years away from home. Even though the USCIS has a way for aliens to get reentry permission while the adjustment case is pending, if you leave before you have the proper papers your application will be deemed abandoned and denied.
Mistake # 9 – Not being prepared for your interview.
Your interview is like your final exam in school. You may have done everything right up to this point, but if you flunk the interview you will not get your “green card”. At the interview the officer will ask you questions from your applications and supporting documents. The officer will also ask you questions about how you met and your marriage. Many of the offices separate the spouses and compare their answers to see if the marriage is real.
Mistake # 10 – Trusting that the USCIS will help you.
They won’t. The focus of many governmental agencies is to help people, but the USCIS is different. The USCIS will grant your adjustment of status application if you qualify and do everything right, but it is not there to help you along. It is nearly impossible to even ask them a question.
Geygan & Geygan, Ltd. Offers a Free Consultation to Discuss Your Immigration Needs
Applying for adjustment of status based on marriage entails filling out what seems to be an endless amount of paperwork. It is very important to ensure you are filling out the forms correctly the first time you apply for adjustment of status based on marriage. Part of the process for obtaining adjustment of status is seeking to work while your application is pending. At Geygan & Geygan, Ltd., our skilled immigration attorneys will provide you with one-on-one attention and explain to you how the adjustment of status process works. Our office will review your case with a free consultation and answer any questions you may have. To schedule your free consultation, contact Geygan & Geygan, Ltd. today by calling 513-791-1673.