The immigration process can be long, complicated, and overwhelming, especially if you don’t
have legal help. If you want to stay, travel or work in the United States, you will need a green card or visa. One mistake in filling these forms, no matter how small, could lead to the denial of your application.
Hiring an immigration attorney isn’t obligatory when trying to get a visa. But, having an experienced lawyer from a respectable law office, such as Law S&B, can help speed up the process and give you peace of mind, knowing that a professional is handling everything for you, doing everything in their power to make sure your application is approved.
We’ll explain the difference between a visa and a Green card and share situations when seeking legal help is most beneficial.
What’s the Difference Between a Visa and a Green Card?
People come to the U.S. for various reasons: to find a job and have better living conditions, to be with their American families, to study, or to escape a dangerous situation in their home country. Whatever your reasoning, you might wonder whether you need a Green card or a visa.
Let’s explain the difference between these two:
People who want to enter the U.S. must have a visa. To obtain a visa, you must apply through the U.S. embassy. There are two types of visas: non-immigrant and immigrant.
- A non-immigrant visa is a temporary document with a precise departure date, and the embassy might approve it for various purposes: travel, medical purposes, education, etc.
- An immigrant visa is much more complex to obtain, and you must receive it before traveling to the U.S. This type of visa allows its owner a permanent stay in America and is part of getting a Green card. Suppose you’re planning to apply for an immigrant visa. In that case, you don’t necessarily need an attorney, but having a professional by your side can help take the burden off you during the process and ensure that everything is filed correctly.
You must obtain an immigrant visa first to apply for a Green card through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). A Green card is a physical document confirming its owner is a permanent U.S. resident who can work or travel anywhere within the country. After holding a green card for 3 to 5 years, you can apply for American citizenship.
Why Should You Hire an Immigration Lawyer?
If you wish to make a tourist visit to the States and stay for a couple of weeks, you won’t need an immigration lawyer. Depending on the country you’re coming from and your case history, you’ll be able to get a visa without much complication.
However, there are cases when a legal representative can determine the situation in your favor:
You are unsure about eligibility for an immigration visa or a green card
U.S. immigration law has many layers and categories, and you must meet the requirements to apply. Let’s say you’re marrying an American citizen or have family in America. In that case, you might be eligible for a Green card, but your future spouse or family must meet some conditions too. The same goes for employment-based visas or Green cards.
Immigration applications include many questions and subquestions to ensure you’re qualified to apply for an immigration visa. An experienced immigration lawyer will evaluate your application, find possible issues and lead you through the immigration process.
You’re looking for asylum or another kind of relief
Many people are eager to come to the States looking for asylum because of the political situation in their native country. As an asylum seeker, you must prove persecution from at least one of the five protected grounds. If there is any uncertainty, the case will be sent to the court.
As mentioned above, having an immigration attorney for application isn’t a requirement, but it could be a relief and prevent further complications. If an asylum-oriented immigration application is referred to court, you’ll need an attorney to represent you.
Your application has been rejected
Getting a legal representative who will try to find a strategy to overcome the rejection of your application is the best thing you can do when you face a negative answer. An immigration attorney might get USCIS to reconsider a rejected application, or they can help you file a complaint.
For example, to appeal a rejected Green card, you must file Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion, which costs $675, within 30 days of the rejection. To avoid expensive fees, hire professional help to ensure you do it right the first time.
You’re facing deportation
If Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) decides to deport you, you will need the best immigration lawyer as soon as possible.
An experienced immigration attorney will consider your circumstances and decide which legal relief is best to seek in Immigration court. He might also persuade the jury to postpone the deportation or close the case, avoiding removal.
You have a criminal record history
If you want to enter U.S. territory, you need to prove you’re not inadmissible. The country wants to protect its citizens from people with criminal records, terrorist activities, infectious diseases, and other issues that could negatively impact American citizens.
If U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services estimate you as a “threat” for any reason, you won’t get a Green card or immigrant visa without an immigration lawyer’s help. A lawyer specializing in immigration issues can check if you fall under exceptions and help you apply for legal forgiveness in the form of a waiver, so your application can be considered.
English is not your first language.
Applying for an immigrant visa is challenging by itself, and it could get even more complicated if you have a language barrier. If English isn’t your native language and you have no one to help you through the process, the best thing you can do is hire an immigration attorney to guide you and ensure you don’t make mistakes on the application form.
If you plan to apply online and struggle with technology, an immigration lawyer can take care of your application for you.
Other immigration urgencies
There are many other immigration urgencies when you might need an attorney, for example:
- You’re applying for a visa with a high refusal rate
- You have already been deported from the country and want to come back
- You got the job in the U.S., but your employer doesn’t want to help you get a visa
- Your case is already in court
Although hiring an immigration lawyer in the process of getting a visa isn’t mandatory, an attorney who practices immigration law can determine whether you’ll get it or not.
If you have a clear case and eligibility to get the approval you’re seeking, and you don’t have a criminal record, you might try to get a visa or a Green Card without a lawyer. Contrary, if your case is even slightly complicated: for example, you’ve been rejected, or even deported, or you have a criminal record, getting an immigration attorney is the smarties thing you can do.
Getting legal advice and professional help might bring you where you want to be – in the United States of America.
Travis Dillard is a business consultant and an organizational psychologist based in Arlington, Texas. Passionate about marketing, social networks, and business in general. In his spare time, he writes a lot about new business strategies and digital marketing for House and Courtyard.