Q: Do I need to hire a lawyer for my immigration case?
A: Your immigration case may be the most important process you go through in your life. Because of the increasing complexity of U.S. immigration laws and the level of enforcement under the current administration, it is most often beneficial, and sometimes absolutely necessary, to hire an immigration attorney. In certain situations, however, a matter may be somewhat routine and straight-forward, and can be handled without the help of an attorney. These cases are the exception rather than the rule.
A good immigration attorney will be able to advise you on the latest changes in immigration law and help you decide on the best course of action, given the facts in your case. The lawyer will work with you to prepare the case and will represent you in front of the government agency handling your case. Aretz & Chisholm Immigration will discuss your case with you individually and help you to determine if your case requires a lawyer.
BEWARE: See note on Notarios below.
Q: Do I need to live in Colorado to be your client?
A: No, we have clients that live all over the country and all over the world.
Q: What happens at the initial consultation?
A: An initial consultation generally lasts approximately one hour, and is the first meeting between attorney and client. At the meeting, the attorney will gather all of the information from the client that is necessary to understand the facts of the case, as well as review all related documents. Next, the attorney will be able to give personalized advice and recommendations based upon how the U.S. immigration laws and regulations apply to your case. By the end of the consultation, you will know what your options are as related to your immigration case, how much the process will cost, and what the next steps will be. At Aretz & Chisholm Immigration, we offer honest and professional advice regarding the risks and benefits of proceeding forward in your immigration case, so that you may make an informed decision.
Q: Can a lawyer make the government process my case faster?
A: No. Although the time it takes for the government to process a case is not dependent upon whether a person has a lawyer or not, an experienced immigration attorney will know when your case is taking too long, and can investigate the issue and move your case forward. Furthermore, in certain situations, a case is eligible for “fast track.” An attorney knows when this process may be used and how to get your case on it.
Q: I want a guarantee that my case will win – is that possible?
A: No. No ethical attorney will guarantee the outcome of a case. Particularly in the field of immigration law, where decisions are made by immigration officials, Border Patrol Agents, and Immigration Judges, among others, it is impossible to guarantee how a case will turn out. That being said, an experienced and responsible attorney will explain to you the likelihood of your case winning or losing, and should always do so.
Q: How can I check on the status of my case?
A: If you have an application receipt number (usually this is sent in the mail by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services sometime after they have received your application) and your case is pending at an Immigration Service Center, you can check the status of your application online at Case Status Online or by calling USCIS at 1-800-375-5283 and following the automated instructions.
If your case is pending at an Immigration Court or the Board of Immigration Appeals, you may check the status of your case over the telephone by calling: 1-800-898-7180, with your alien number (starts with an A and you will find it in your immigration documentation), and following the automated instructions. There are options to hear your status in Spanish or English.
Q: What is an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) and how do I get one?
A: An Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) is a number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to record any taxes owed by a person who does not have a valid social security number. The benefit of using an ITIN number is that it provides an individual with a way to declare and pay taxes, even if the income earned was reported to an invalid social security number. To obtain a tax ID number you must file application form W-7 with the IRS with evidence of identity like a copy of your passport. You will receive the number in the mail in approximately one or two months.
Q: Do I have to notify immigration if I change my address?
A: Yes. The immigration regulations require that all persons who are not U.S. citizens (including LPRs) inform USCIS of any change in their address within 10 days of moving by completing Form AR-11, Change of Address.
Q: I have received a Notice to Appear (NTA) in immigration court. Do I need a lawyer?
A: It is advisable that you find an attorney or qualified representative to represent you in immigration court. You will be appearing before an Immigration Judge, and there will be an attorney representing the immigration service at every hearing you attend. The laws and procedures are very complex, and even some inexperienced attorneys are not equipped to navigate them. Find an attorney with whom you are comfortable and who appears to be experienced and knowledgeable.
Q: I have received a notice from the immigration service requesting additional documents. How can I make sure I submit the correct paperwork?
A: You should always follow government instructions very carefully. Failing to provide the proper documents can result in lengthy delays, further requests, and even the denial of your application. Consult an attorney to ensure that you are filing the paperwork that the government has requested.
Q: I need to work legally. Do I qualify for a work permit?
A: Many individuals with applications pending with the immigration service or immigration court are entitled to a work permit. Many others are not. Consult an attorney to discuss whether you may apply for work authorization. Note: Frequently notarios tell immigrants that they are eligible for work authorization when they are not. It is very important to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to determine your eligibility.
Q: I have an attorney, but I am not sure my case is being handled correctly. Am I allowed to ask other attorneys for a second opinion on my case?
A: Absolutely. You have the right to the attorney of your choice, and you may change attorneys at any time even if you have signed a contract with a particular attorney. Keep in mind that you should ask about what, if any, impact changing attorneys could have on your case. Furthermore, you must end representation with one attorney before beginning with another – make sure your intentions are clear when speaking to your current attorney as well as any potential future attorney.
Q: I have an immigration issue, and I am thinking of using a “notary,” “notario,” or “immigration consultant” to assist me. Is that a good idea?
A: No. It is very important when looking for help with your immigration case to watch out for people who pretend to be Immigration attorneys or accredited representatives. They can take your money, involve you in immigration fraud, and get you deported or arrested.
In the United States, notaries or notarios have absolutely no legal training and are not legally authorized to practice law. Many notarios and immigration consultants may be well-known in your community, and may have even provided services for your friends and family with success. However, our office receives many clients who have sought help from notarios and instead paid large amounts of money to file applications for which they were ineligible or which have been denied due to serious errors made by the notario. In some cases, advice from notarios has led to the denial of a green card, deportation, or a permanent bar from all immigration benefits. Generally, a lawyer will end up charging you much more to clean up the mess left by the notario, and your remaining options may be limited.
Notarios are not licensed professionals, and therefore are not regulated as lawyers are. This means that they have nothing to lose for dishonest or incompetent legal advice, unlike lawyers who may lose their professional license for such conduct. We strongly recommend that you consult with an immigration attorney whom you trust before filing any immigration applications.
Contact Aretz & Chisholm Immigration today to schedule a consultation regarding your immigration case.