If you are at the beginning of your immigration journey, you might be asking yourself, “Should I do my own immigration case? Is DIY immigration a good idea?”
You do not have to have an immigration attorney assist you with your immigration case. There’s no requirement that you have an immigration attorney.
For those of you who are considering do-it-yourself immigration but it’s a matter of “should I?” not “can I?” Should you do it? What are the risks of doing your own immigration case?
There are a lot of individuals who say, “All of the information is out there. There are all of these blogs and there’s YouTube.” There’s tons of information online but it comes down to, “Should I? What are the risks?”
There’s a lot of individuals who might say, “It would be cheaper to do it myself” or “there are companies that prepare the applications and it looks like I just need to fill out the forms”.
But immigration is very deceptive. It seems that it might just be filling out forms. There’s a rumor that completing an immigration case is similar to applying for a driver’s license. That is inaccurate. When you apply for a driver’s license, there are certain requirements. You have to be of a certain age, you have to have insurance, and you have to pass a driver’s test.
With the immigration case, there are also clear requirements but there’s also something called discretion, especially in couple-based immigration cases. Discretion is what immigration officers have when they’re reviewing your application. Specifically, discretion to decide whether or not you have a real relationship.
They’re not doing that when you’re applying for a driver’s license. Discretion means that that officer is able to look at the case and your relationship evidence and decide, does this seem like they have a real relationship?
That discretion doesn’t exist with a driver’s license application. That makes your case more high stakes. You have something you have to prove to immigration.
Immigration is so much more than just filling out forms. Yes, those forms are important but filling out forms is a tiny part of what we do as immigration attorneys.
It is highly recommended that you consider having an immigration attorney assist you with your case. Why? Because we have seen the risks that exist when you’re doing your immigration case.
The first one is that sometimes couples will dive in and start filing an application and they’re not even eligible. It’s very sad to see couples who seem like they were eligible but there’s one small nuance in immigration law that actually makes them not eligible for that benefit. They get to the end or they find out months later and they realize they have to start over. This leads to lost time and money.
Another thing we’ve seen is that couples weren’t aware of an important deadline. For the most part, deadlines are clear but there are deadlines in cases that aren’t always clear. There are certain requirements that you have to meet with immigration and if you would miss a deadline, then there’s lost time and money and starting over.
There are also couples who jump in and they apply for an immigration benefit but there was actually a better option available. It is really important to understand all of your options because there could be a better option.
The other thing that we’ve seen is children aging out on fiancé visa cases and also on individuals who are petitioning for their children. There are certain age requirements that the child has to actually immigrate. They have to come to the United States before they turn a certain age.
Immigration doesn’t always keep track of that. They’re not always going to send you a notice that you’re getting close to aging out and you should ask for an expedite. Because once the child turns a certain age, then they can’t immigrate to the United States with their family.
Once that happens, there isn’t anything that can be done but that child will have to wait in a very long line. In some countries like Mexico and the Philippines, there is more than a decade-long wait and that’s painful for a family to be separated.
The other risk that exists is deportation. For individuals who are here in the United States, if you’re completing an application for adjustment of status to receive your green card, some individuals make a mistake like not providing the right birth certificate or the right divorce decree.
There are so many things that could have been prevented at the beginning. Once they get that denial, depending on their status in the US, they could actually be referred to immigration court for deportation proceedings.
The stakes are very high. There’s a lot of risks involved in doing your own immigration case. Something else that is extremely important to mention in doing your own immigration case is the importance of your time, energy, and mental health.
Yes, you could read the Immigration and Nationality Act and the immigration websites and teach yourself how to do your immigration case, but you probably are very busy. You might have a career or other obligations and also you want to be able to focus on your relationship.
If you spend your time and energy focused on learning how to do your immigration case, that’s a question of whether or not that’s the best use of your time. If that’s really what you want to do.
For the most part, all of our clients tell us, “I just feel better having you do the case.” For our firm, we’ve done hundreds of cases. For you, this is your first immigration case.
If you were to hire an immigration attorney, you want to find someone who focuses on immigration, specifically couple-based immigration. That way, you can invest money in hiring an attorney. That’s an investment in making sure that you are taking care of your relationship. That you have your time and you can avoid all of those risks discussed.