by Chris Keen, August 1, 2017
Many have asked me whether they need an attorney to file immigration forms. I always tell them no, you do not need an attorney, but in many cases I recommend it.
Filling out forms with biographical information is not difficult for most people. Knowing what forms to fill out, what instructions may be out of date or incorrect on the official forms, what may trigger a CIS rejection of a packet, how to minimize the risk of rejection or undue delay in a packet's adjudication are all things an experienced law firm can do for you. I tell my immigration clients that they are not paying me to fill out forms - they are paying me to handle their cases before the Department of Homeland Security in a most efficient way possible to achieve their goals.
Sometimes clients come to my office and want me to look over their immigration applications and do a "packet review". I tell those clients, sure, I will review their packet, but I can only check for the following:
- Completeness of the forms;
- Currentness of the forms (CIS will reject out of date forms);
- Resolve questions that the client has about a particular section of the form;
- Help the client know if the client is filing the right comination of forms to achieve their goal.
I tell the clients requesting this service that:
- I cannot guarantee that CIS will accept, and not reject, their packet;
- I cannot be sure that the information they have written on their forms is correct, or that it matches the supporting documents that USCIS will be looking at;
- I cannot guarantee the forms will not expire or new requirements will come out before they submit their forms to USCIS.
- Having a lawyer does not speed up any processing times. Clients with a lawyer do not get a priority before Department of Homeland Security. Rather, lawyers through their experience know how to best present a case to minimize delay and increase the chances for a streamlined approval.
Many very intelligent clients still have questions after doing their own online research, and reading the instructions on the USCIS webpage. Sometimes the services of an attorney will be immensely useful.
Why is it better to have an attorney?
My clients know that if I handle their packet submissions, I will be up to date on the latest instructions, and will be aware of ways to avoid common pitfalls in the process. If a new form or instruction becomeas applicable, we will make sure we are applying that new information. In addition, it is very common to have USCIS send a Request for Evidence that is a multi page document, often asking for documents or information you already submitted. I also have clients whose cases become delayed, and only become resolved after we reach out to the appropriate people at the appropriate agency.
Yes, many people can type information into a government form. Yes, the Department of Homeland Security tells you an attorney is not required. However, an experienced attorney can eliminate the confusion and uncertainly of the legalization process. If you want your case done by an experienced firm, and do not want to have to worry about the details yourself, call my firm, Keen Law Offices, at (801) 374-5336 and set up an appointment.