Do you really need to hire a lawyer when getting a green card through marriage?

UPDATE: THE RISK OF FIGHTING DEPORTATION HAS BEEN RAISED

On July 5, 2018, USCIS released guidance about Notices to Appear (NTA). An NTA is the document that Immigration authorities use to initiate removal (deportation) cases. NTAs demand that immigrants must appear before the US Immigration Court.

Up until now, it was commonplace for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to issue NTAs.

But the new policy places this role on USCIS, to serve NTAs when virtually any immigration application is denied.

Why you need a lawyer to get a Green Card through Marriage.

People always ask me, “Do I need a lawyer to get a green card through marriage?”

The answer is – this is too important to fool around with.

Many sites make green card applications seem simple: like a filling out a simple stack of papers and just going to an immigration office. Just download the application and hand it in. But do NOT be fooled.

If you go on your own without a lawyer present you may make the smallest mistake, something that just seems like it’s not a big deal, but sometimes those small mistakes cause BIG problems. Green card applications are not a walk in the park, they are complicated and sensitive legal documents that can affect your ability – or your spouse and children’s ability- to live and work in the U.S.

  • In fact, in June 2015, the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services estimated that it takes an average of 6.5  hours required to fill out the new Form I-485 for permanent residence.
  • And you have to add supplements to the basic green card application form, which will add hours of your time to do it. If that’s a walk in the park, it’s more like a big game reserve in the wild.
  • I meet many clients who try to fill out green card applications on their own before they realize how complicated the process can be, and reach out to get help from an immigration lawyer.

Sometimes the delay of having to refile forms that were not correctly filled out in the first place can cost months of time away from a job, loved one, or family. While it is possible to download and file a green card application on your own, it can end up costing time, and causing errors that might ultimately affect your chances of getting permanent residency.

AND marrying a US citizen does not automatically guarantee that you will even get a green card.

Look, it’s your life, you can do what you want. When I need help with something that isn’t involving immigration law, I’m not going to try to do it myself. I’m going to call another attorney and say, “somebody came in and asked me a question about about divorce law, criminal law, and so forth, can you help?” You need to talk to people who are that are experts in those areas.  When it comes to immigration law, and in this instance again, green cards regarding marriage with a U.S. citizen; you want someone in the room when the immigration officer is interviewing you about your marriage. You want someone with you to prepare the forms carefully.

Even the smallest mistake can result in failure.  You want success, don’t you?

Written by: Harlan York

Immigration Attorney Harlan York is Former Chair, Immigration Section, NJ State Bar Association and Former Co-Chair, NY State Bar Association CFLS Immigration Committee. Mr. York appeared on National Television on CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose and Primer Impacto on Univision, as well as Telemundo, NBC, and PBS. He was honored as First Ever Immigration Lawyer of The Year in NJ by Best Lawyers.

Do you have a question about Immigration Law Videos?

Call us anytime at 973.642.1111 or email us using the form below.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.