This post is an entry for our $25,000 scholarship contest. The post was created by Yvonne Martin and may not always reflect the views of JW Surety Bonds.
According to the Wall Street Journal, about 843,000 people immigrated to the US between July 2012 and July 2013. Although this number was just under 40,000 less than the previous year (which experts attribute to the state of America’s economy), this is still an immense number when one considers that it is only 157,000 away from 1 million. The current situation in Central America seems to put the statistics for this year on track to beat out last year’s number, with thousands of immigrants, mainly women and children, making the trek to the Texas border to seek asylum from the chaotic conditions of their own homelands. Officials at the border are doing their best to evaluate the situation of each immigrant and process them correctly and as speedily as they can. Among those working to expedite the process are immigration lawyers, laboring pro bono to aid in navigating the technicalities of U.S. immigration law and accelerate the appeal process for those who are truly in need of asylum. The conditions for the majority of these migrants is not the warmest setting, with those waiting for decisions on their cases having to bide their time in cells until a verdict has been reached, praying and hoping that it will be in their favor.
In addition to coming to assist the stream of migrants entering America for a chance at a safer and more prosperous life, immigration consultants are involved in helping the thousands of immigrants who are currently in America on various types of visas to achieve their dream of naturalization and citizenship. This can be a lengthy process, taking anywhere from 2 to 25 years to complete, according to the Washington Times. Immigration consultants can hasten the process for hopeful citizens-to-be by ensuring that they have included the correct documents and the forms are filled out in accordance with the instructions and that they are sent to the correct application center for processing. A simple sounding procedure is really far more complex because of the many different forms that may need to be filed, as well as the filing fees and dozens of corresponding documents that must be submitted along with the forms for them to have a chance of being approved. Here are some examples of forms that an applicant can expect to encounter on his or her journey towards a green card, and eventually, U.S. citizenship:
- I-130: This form is for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to apply for their relatives to immigrate to the United States. This is the first step in helping a relative to immigrate, according to the USCIS website. One form must be submitted for each relative, and the current filing fee is $420 per application.
- I-485: This is the application to adjust one’s status from a visa holder to a permanent resident or “green card” holder. The filing fees for this form are currently $1,070.
- I-751: This form is submitted to ask for the removal of conditions on a green card. For instance, if an applicant applied for green card status on the basis of marrying a U.S. citizen, the couple must apply for removal conditions a few years after receiving the initial green card, and at that time they will be interviewed to verify the legitimacy of their marriage, and if their application is approved, the applicant will be issued a non-conditional green card. The current filing fees for this form amount to $590.
- G-325: This form is submitted to provide biographical information on the applicant, and is normally included with the I-485, or other forms that might require additional information.There is no filing fee for this form since it is filed jointly with another application.
- N-400: This is a form that every green card holder might actually look forward to – the application for naturalization. This application is submitted to apply for U.S. citizenship, which represents the light at the end of the tunnel for many immigrants who are on the path to citizenship. The filing fees are currently in the amount of $680.
These are only a few of the dozens of forms that can be found on the USCIS website, and understanding which ones are the correct forms for one’s particular situation can easily make one ready to pull their hair out, much less if the applicant does not speak English fluently, or at all.
Immigration lawyers make their living by helping immigrants to locate and complete these forms, gather the necessary documents and submit them as speedily as possibly in order to give them the best chance of their application being approved and ushered through to the next phase of the legalization process. For the majority of these applicants, gaining legal status and the benefits that accompany it can be the difference between having their families suffer or blossom in their new environment. It can mean having your child be able to see a doctor and be covered by health care benefits for legal residents or obtaining healthy foods for a pregnant woman or a child less than 5 years old through the WIC program. Immigration lawyers can be part of making these humble and seemingly basic needs become a reality.
Though many people may survey the state of America’s economy and judge it to be not as stable as it once was, immigrants from other countries recognize that America is still in a better position that most other countries in the world. The current housing market may still be on the rebound and the dollar might be slightly behind the world’s top currencies, but the United States is a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family that immigrants look to as a haven from persecution, economic hardship and dire living conditions. Immigration consultants are the people who are privileged to be a part of the ride from a newly immigrated individual or family to a proud citizen of these 50 states. Looking into the eyes of a person who has come to them in hopes that they will receive help in making the American dream a reality for themselves and their family and being able to guide them towards achieving that goal is a very worthwhile cause indeed.