What Problems Do Immigrants Face? 5 Top Problems on the Road to Immigration and Naturalization
By: Harlan York
May 8, 2018

The term “immigrant” gets tossed around a lot these days – it feels like more than ever since the Trump administration came to power.

I tweet 3 to 5 new immigration articles daily, or it seems that way…

In the US, however, most of us are immigrants in one way or another.  It just depends on how many generations you go back. Immigrants have frequently experienced difficulties in trying to go to another country. Many are fleeing wars, or persecution at home and have already faced untold hardships before they even hit our shores. But what happens when they get here? What is the process like once they are trying to get their green card or naturalization in the US?


I am not simply talking about the refugees from Central America stuck in detention centers on the border. Those people are trying to escape violent societies and now are fighting due process violations in their efforts to seek justice. No, I am talking about the more routine problems that Immigrants go through. Problems start when documents like employment authorization, visas, green cards and naturalization certificates are delayed or denied. Here is where immigrants request help from the best lawyers they can find.


  1. There are no “easy” immigration cases. Sure, many immigrants do their papers on their own. However I have reservations about that method.  I have been an attorney for immigrants for more than two decades. I hire lawyers for real estate, trust planning and transactions.  I stay within my area of expertise.  Immigrants would be wise to do the same before real problems start.
  2. Mistakes by Immigration Service Officials. This is a huge problem for immigrants.  These mistakes frequently result in denials.  Immigrants, frankly, go through hell trying to get these errors corrected.  As the leader of a team of immigration lawyers, I oversee the preparation of carefully crafted legal arguments based on many hours of hard work to fix these problems.
  3. Transfer of immigrant files. This dilemma bothers me to no end. It is not really a legal problem. It is more about wasted time and effort.  This is a classic scenario where immigrants – and their Citizen relatives and employers – must find experienced immigration counsel to look at every option to get to the bottom line.  Sometimes we go into federal court and argue that the Immigration Service has gone past routine waiting times for case completion.
  4. Lost immigrant files.  Believe me, it happens, far too often.  When I began my career in the mid-90s, I vividly remember a government lawyer handing me a computer update on my immigrant client’s case that simply said: “FILE LOST.”  In 2018, we commonly talk to Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, whose officers explain that their databases reflect missing data that make it seem as if our immigrant clients have legal problems. Attorney investigation is the best way to resolve cases.
  5. Officer transfer, promotion, or retirement. I meet with so many immigrants who cannot believe that their cases are a mess.  These immigrants have tried publicly accessing their cases by telephone or going to Immigration Service offices in person.  No one can give them an answer. Then they come to us.  When we get involved, we typically discover that their immigrant files are sitting at Records Centers rather than a local office in adjudication. Reason?  The officer who had the file left for a new post or was promoted or retired.  And said file was just shipped off to storage, often without a thought.

By the time an immigrant has come to the US they have most likely already faced huge challenges…if they get hit with one of the top five immigration issues it can lead to detention (essentially jail), or deportation back to a country that might mean death, torture, starvation…If you are an immigrant coming to the US, I urge you not to try and go through the immigration and naturalization process on your own. Get proper legal consultation from an an attorney who specializes in IMMIGRATION.

About Harlan York

The first-ever attorney in New Jersey to win “Immigration Lawyer of the Year” from Best Lawyers, Harlan York is former immigration chair of the NJ State Bar Association and former co-chair for the NY State Bar Association CFLS Committee on Immigration. He currently serves on the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) National Practice Management Committee.

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Harlan York & Associates practices law in the areas of Immigration, Deportation Defense, Family Immigration, Corporate Immigration, Naturalization throughout Essex County – Hudson County – Morris County – Passaic County – Somerset County – Middlesex County – Bergen County – New Jersey -Immigration Lawyer – NJ Immigration Lawyer – Jersey City-Newark-Paterson Passaic Elizabeth Edison Woodbridge Toms River Hamilton Trenton Camden Clifton Passaic Garfield Wallington Cherry Hill East Orange Passaic Union City Bayonne Irvington Old Bridge Lakewood North Bergen Vineland Union Wayne Parsippany-Troy Hills New Brunswick Plainfield Bloomfield Perth Amboy East Brunswick West New York West Orange Hackensack Atlantic City Kearny Mount Laurel Montclair Essex Hoboken North Brunswick Belleville. In addition to serving clients in New York, Pennsylvania, the greater United States, and Internationally.

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