Why You Should Hire A Lawyer For Your Citizenship Application
February 25th, 2016
Many people feel that immigration law is just a matter of filling out some forms and providing some documents to the government such as your birth certificate, marriage license and passport. There are even some people who get duped into hiring small businesses claiming to "assist" in filling out immigration forms. The problem with not hiring an experienced immigration lawyer is that what you don't know about the answers you provide in your application could come back to haunt you - even place you in deportation proceedings. Here's an example. An individual had legally been in the United States for nearly forty years. He had a green card (i.e. was a Lawful Permanent Resident), had been legitimately married and divorced, had a child born in the U.S. and by all accounts lived a pretty normal life here. What made it even more "normal" in my opinion, is that he wasn't the quintessential model citizen. He had been arrested several times over the years for drinking and driving, and once for a false allegation of battery which was dismissed. He had applied for Citizenship in 2007, but due to his travel schedule for work out of the country, could not obtain certain records of his old arrests in the time required by USCIS and his petition was essentially abandoned. He had been in no trouble for over fifteen years and had never travelled for over six months during the last five years (the primary time frame reviewed for Naturalization petitions). When we first met and I began the process of obtaining his old arrest records and submitting a Freedom of Information Act request for his old immigration applications, everything seemed to be on track for a successful Naturalization petition. But then one day while dropping of some paperwork, my client off-handedly says: "you know, I heard from a friend that his friend forgot to tell the government some old information in his Citizenship application and they deported him. Can that happen?" Uhhhhh - yeah! In another conversation, this individual told me that he forgot to tell me about some criminal incidents that took place back in his European homeland back in the 1960's, on one occasion leading to a stint in prison - but he thought there was no record of that so it didn't matter. He also remembered that he had been married back then too - but it was only for a year so he didn't think that really mattered either because there was no real record of it. Guess what - all this stuff matters for more than one reason. First of all, certain crimes which you commit, (whether it is in the past five years or not), can be the basis, not only for denial of your Naturalization petition, but for deportation. Secondly, and even more important, your prior petitions to enter the U.S. and/or for Lawful Permanent Resident status asked questions about your criminal background and history. If you checked the boxes that said you had No Prior Convictions for Crimes or Prison Sentences - but you actually did - you just lied on your application and in certain circumstances that misrepresentation could land you in deportation proceedings later on. So, don't go it alone, especially if you have any checkered history whatsoever! Hire an experienced immigration attorney because it will save you money in the long run and potentially prevent you from being deported!
Categories: Immigration Law