Should I ask Immigration or an Immigration Lawyer?


Attorney Nicolas A. Olano

One of the most common errors that lead to problems with immigration client’s cases is that, at some point, they got their advice “directly” from USCIS, ICE or EOIR.  These three (Immigration, Immigration Police and Immigration Judges) are government agencies, they are not there to provide advice to the public on their immigration process.  It seems that the access that USCIS provides to its applications and the streamlining they have created is confused with an obligation for it to provide legal advice to its customers – the public.  This could not be further from the truth.  I am going to provide an example that will hopefully clarify this point.  You have just stolen a million dollars, but you are not sure how long the police can go after you for the crime – after how many years will you not be prosecuted for the crime.  So, after five years you walk into a police station and asked the police officer at the front desk that says “information” about your “case.”  What do you think will happen?  Well, most people do not realize this but when they walk into immigration and start asking questions about their particular situations they are placing themselves at risk of 1) getting detained, 2) having their case affected negatively and 3) simply getting the wrong advice.  And, please, do not blame this on a negative “animus” against immigrants or something like it.  For immigration, just like the police officer, if someone who broke the law shows up they may have to detain them.  Also, like the police officer, immigration must keep a record of when your case was accessed and any information you provided – why wouldn’t they?  Finally, immigration officers are there to provide information about what is happening with your case, not provide you with legal advice on your case.  Therefore, it is not rare to see that a client has received incorrect advice from an officer that either does not have the experience or has a different legal position regarding your client’s case.  So, next time you have a question about your case, think twice before going to immigration to ask it.  Is it a question about what is happening with it or is it a legal question about your case?  If it is the first one, by all means ask away.  If it is the second situation, consult with an immigration lawyer about it.

Now, you will ask, how do I know the difference?  If the questions is whether you or someone “can do” something it is a question that must apply immigration law to specific facts.  It is a legal question.  If it is “how” to do something it is generally not a legal question if no facts are applied.  The problem is that ALL situations are different and that difference in the facts is going to require you to apply the law – again a legal issue.  Finally, if the question is what is happening with my case, why is it taking so long, where is it being processed, etc… then immigration is a place where this can be found out.  Remember there are online resources that you can use to find the situation of your case and other particulars that may help you.  For example, you can go here to find about your case:  CASE STATUS INFORMATION.  In short, if you are not sure of whether the question is one to take to a lawyer, err on the side of caution and call a lawyer experience with immigration matters.

Immigration knows your information, it already has it, so why lie? Disclosure is the best way.

It is hard to believe that the question “how will Immigration find out?” is still being asked by clients and relied upon by some lawyers.  Not only is this line of thinking one that may jeopardize an attorney’s license, it is an almost assured way of ruining a case.  In ANY immigration proceeding, be it your first or last, credibility is an essential part.  Why?  Because not only may your credibility support the case, in some instances it is the reason why you win it.  For example, an asylum case may be granted solely upon credible testimony. (Asylum Credibility) At the same time, the moment credibility is lost with an adjudicator or opposing party, it is very likely that the case will follow the same path – no matter if it is USCIS, an Asylum Officer, or an Immigration Judge.  So, advice.

First.  Always disclose arrests, marriages, changes of address, travel to and from the U.S., etc…  If for some reason your attorney tells you that such act or situation may be an issue: DEAL WITH IT up front.   Trying to hide it or not disclosing it to a department of state consul, an immigration officer or a customs and border protection agent will eventually surface, destroy your credibility and create a disqualifier in the form of fraud.  (Immigration Fraud Info) Further, remember that most things have waivers – few don’t, like a false claim to us citizenship (but even that may be salvageable!) – and it is better to disclose and request a waiver than to fail to disclose and, not only get your case on the path to assured denial, ending up with a fraud charge for which you may need a second waiver.

Second.  Tell your immigration attorney and keep a record of what you said.  Lawyers are human, they make mistakes, forget things, and cannot read minds.  So, do not assume that your lawyer knows something in your case if you have not expressly told him or her about it.  If you think something should be in everyone’s record tell your lawyer and let him or her guide you on that issue.  Take it as a serious warning if your attorney even hints at not disclosing a fact or issue with your case. (This is not to be confused with what the government must prove in its burden in certain cases, but this is a very fine line which you must walk with care).

Finally, keep in mind the information that you have in the internet.  It is public information in many cases.  Google, Facebook, Instagram and other applications and social media services provide a summary of the information they have collected on you.  (Ger your information) You may want to retrieve this information to have a record.

So, when dealing with immigration start from the idea that all negative information about you is in their hands. This leads to better preparation of cases and better results for you as you will not have to worry many years later if your citizenship may be revoked be cause of an undisclosed fact in your immigration history. (Denaturalization Cases)  So talk your attorney or if you do not have one, get one. Good luck.  For more information go to our main page.

 

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We are Alaska Immigration Lawyers invested in providing clients with aggressive representation in Deportation Defense, Family Based Residency, Visa Petitions, Employment-Based immigration, Naturalization cases, Asylum claims and other immigration matters. Our Anchorage immigration lawyers  effectively represent clients before  USCIS (Immigration), the Department of State (Consulates) and  agencies involved with U.S. visas and immigration.  The Nations Law Group immigration attorneys regularly go to Federal and Immigration Court’s to defend clients being deported for crimes or immigration violations. More than 20 years of experience in the practice of immigration law give our team of top-notch immigration attorneys the ability to effectively handle all types of immigration cases.

 

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