Would you perform surgery on yourself? Or would you let a doctor do it?

Would you perform surgery on yourself? Or would you let a doctor do it?

Some people, with only limited knowledge or understanding of immigration laws, try to strategize and handle their immigration case on their own. They follow the advice of friends or relatives, or listen to gossip or rumors they hear on the streets or at parties. But they may not be aware of all the critical facts or laws, or recent developments.

Partial or incomplete information about immigration laws and benefits can have devastating effects, resulting in denials, deportation, or many additional years of separation from your family.

A woman came to my office for assistance for her daughter, who aged out. She followed the wrong advice. But had she gone to an attorney at the outset, her child would have been in the US years ago.

In this woman’s case, she was petitioned by her mother, right after the mother had naturalized. But the mother could have filed a petition for her, as a single adult child of a green card holder parent (F-2B) years earlier, which would have included the woman’s daughter, who was still under 21. Instead, the family thought it would be “faster” for the mother to hold off for at least 5 years to become a US citizen, and then file the petition. That is wrong!

By waiting until the mother naturalized, and only then filing a petition, they wasted at least five years. Also, a petition by a US citizen takes much longer than a petition by an immigrant parent. So, by the time the priority date became current, the child had already aged out.

Now, the woman wanted to know if her daughter was eligible under the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA), under her mother’s original petition. After doing the mathematical computation, the daughter was considered mathematically over 21 and not CSPA eligible. The mother will now need to file a new petition for her daughter, which could take another 10 years before the daughter can finally immigrate to the US. Had they obtained proper legal advice from an attorney at the outset, both this woman and her daughter could have been in the US years ago! Instead, by relying on partial information, the daughter now must wait again for decades to immigrate.

My point is that people think, “What’s so difficult about petitioning a family member? I can just do it on my own, because it is simple and straightforward.” Just as some people may say, “Why should I have to hire a surgeon? It’s easy. I can do it myself.” But there could be complications. And in immigration, there may be faster ways to bring family members to the US, which a person may not be fully aware of. Instead, they rely on partial information, which, as you can see from the above example, can have devastating effects. That is why you should consult with an attorney, who can evaluate your situation, to make sure you are going the fastest, most direct route, to accomplish your immigration goal.

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