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Common Immigration Mistakes To Avoid: Tips For A Smooth Application Process

Apr 29, 2024 | Immigration

Navigating the immigration process can be legally complex and emotionally taxing. No matter what your reasons for wanting to immigrate to the United States are, whether it be reuniting with family, pursuing better career opportunities, seeking refuge, or something else, the hurdles you have to overcome can be daunting, especially if you are completely unfamiliar with the process. In order to ensure a smooth application, there are a few common mistakes to avoid!

1. Lack of Understanding Immigration Requirements

There are a variety of immigration processes in America that allow immigrants from other countries to obtain permanent residency. The U.S. provides for immigrant visas based on family ties, employment, adoption, special immigrant categories (which includes those who worked with the U.S. Armed Forces or under Chief of Mission authority as a translator or interpreter in Iraq or Afghanistan) and the diversity visa, which is an annual program for immigration to the United States.

With each of these immigration processes comes a myriad of requirements that can be difficult to understand and meet. This lack of understanding is a mistake you want to avoid as it can lead to delays, denials, or legal complications with the immigration process. It’s important to do thorough research regarding the steps and eligibility criteria you have to meet. You can find steps from the U.S. Department of State here.

2. Incomplete Documentation

While many visa applications are approved, some are denied, and that’s usually because the application is missing information. Incomplete documentation is a common mistake that can also result in delays and denials. An accurate and complete application is extremely important if you’re hoping to make the United States your home. Otherwise, this mistake can cost you that opportunity, as well as time and money you may not have.

If you have inaccurate or incomplete documentation and your application is denied, you can reapply, but you will have to pay the processing fee for your application again. The application processing fees are as follows:

Immigrant Visa Application Processing Fees (non-refundable, per person) 

Immediate relative and family preference applications (processed on the basis of an approved I-130, I-600 or I-800 petition)$325.00
Employment-based applications (processed on the basis of an approved I-140 or I-526 petition)$345.00
Other immigrant visa applications (including approved I-360 self-petitioners, special immigrant visa applicants, returning resident (SB-1) applicants, and all others, except DV program selectees)$205.00
Certain Iraqi and Afghan special immigrant visa applicationsNo Fee

3. Missed Deadlines

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) there is a limited number of immigrant visas that the U.S. The Department of State (DOS) can issue to noncitizens looking to become lawful permanent residents each year. For the following groups, immigrant visas are always available: 

  • The spouses of U.S. citizens;
  • The children (unmarried and under 21 years of age) of U.S. citizens;
  • The parents of U.S. citizens at least 21 years old; and
  • Widows or widowers of U.S. citizens if the U.S. citizen filed a petition before they died, or if the widow(er) files a petition within two years of the citizen’s death.

However, family-sponsored immigrant visas are limited to 226,000 a year, and employment-based immigrant visas are limited to 140,000 a year. Once you’ve determined which category you fall under, and to ensure you’re one of the 226,000 or 140,000 you have to determine your priority date. A priority date is the date that the USCIS considers an individual to have officially declared their intent to apply for permanent residency.

For family sponsored visas, you can find that date on Form l-130. For employment-based visas, priority dates can vary depending on your individual situation. You can find more information here, or all priority dates can be found on the Visa Bulletin.

Once you’ve determined your priority date, it’s imperative that you don’t miss it. You have one year after your priority date becomes current in the “Application Final Action Dates” chart to obtain your visa or green card. If you don’t, the government assumes you’ve abandoned it, and they’ll pass your visa number to the next person in line.

Failure to Seek Professional Legal Advice

Another common immigration mistake is failing to seek professional legal advice. An immigration attorney is someone who can not only clarify the steps of your specific immigration process, but assist with things like helping you understand which visa application you need to apply for in the first place, and how to avoid having your application denied, putting inaccurate or incomplete documentation in your application, and missing important deadlines.

While you might feel you have the immigration process under control, having an attorney in your corner can make the difference between gaining lawful permanent residency and facing a lengthy delay and having to pay another application processing fee, among other inconveniences.

Tips For Avoiding These Mistakes

1. Research and Understand Eligibility Criteria

Be sure to research thoroughly the type of visa you’re applying for, as well as the requirements attached to the application process.

2. Gather Accurate and Complete Documentation

Ensure all necessary documentation and required information is provided on your application to avoid delays or denials.

3. Stay Organized

Keep documents organized and stay on top of deadlines and important dates, like your priority date. Set reminders to ensure no pertinent details or due dates are overlooked.

4. Work With A Professional

Don’t go through the journey ahead on your own. Enlist the help of an immigration attorney who can help you through every step of the immigration application process, and give you the best chance at obtaining your visa.

How Equal Justice Law Group Can Help You

If you’re an immigrant looking to secure permanent residency in the U.S., Equal Justice Law Group can help! With all of the required forms and legal fees involved in the immigration process, we understand how overwhelming the road ahead can feel. Anyone would be confused! The good news is we can help give you an advantage at reaching your ideal outcome, no matter what your situation is. With the help of our multilingual law clerk and former refugee, Galina Dorris, we can support and empower you to secure your American dream. Call now to request a consultation and learn about your legal options. 

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