The path to becoming a legal resident in the United States includes the lengthy process of filling out a variety of forms. Unfortunately, due to the complexity of the U.S. immigration system, this process can be very difficult and time-consuming. Be that as it may, you may be wondering if this part of the process can be completed without the help of an experienced immigration lawyer in an attempt to save money. As it is very important that these forms are filled out correctly, it is important to know the risks involved with attempting to do it yourself. Before figuring out if you can deal with the USCIS and its many immigration forms without the help of an immigration attorney, let’s briefly talk about the forms.
What Forms Do You Need?
The first thing you should know is what forms you need in order to become a legal U.S. resident. Many of my clients think that there is just one immigration form. But, that is not the case. Keep in mind that you may or may not need all of the forms (listed below) and you may need additional forms. These are a few of the most common immigration forms, but please keep in mind that every person’s situation is different and the immigration system is a web of complex forms.
Form I-485. Individuals who seek to become a permanent U.S. resident will need to fill out Form I-485. Approved applicants will be able to live and work in the United States through the issuance of a Green Card.
Form I-140. This form is required for individuals who are working in the United States and want to apply to become a permanent resident.
Form I-129F. People who are already a permanent resident within the United States and seek to help a fiancé gain permanent resident status must begin by filling out this form. This is a petition for permission to apply for permanent residency on behalf of your partner.
Form I-130. The purpose of this form is for relatives of a U.S. citizen to gain permission to receive permanent resident status. In order to apply, relatives must be eligible for permanent resident status and must wait for a visa number to become available.
Remember, these are just a few of the more common forms required to become a permanent resident. An immigration attorney can help you determine what specific forms may be required for you and your family’s situation.
Do You Need an Immigration Lawyer?
It can be tempting to decide to fill out the necessary forms yourself. Whether you want to avoid legal costs, or think you can do it on your own; so, as an attorney, I’d be remiss not to warn you that choosing this route comes with serious implications.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services reported that applications and petitions filled out by individuals without legal counsel are denied at a rate of 67%. This statistic alone tells us that avoiding legal counsel in favor of filling out the forms yourself could lead to your application for permanent residency (or, anything else) being denied.
If you are in the process of applying for permanent resident status in the United States, or in the process of dealing with any other immigration form, you don’t necessarily need an immigration lawyer to fill out the forms. But, it is strongly recommended that you, at least, consult with an experienced immigration lawyer (especially in the scenario where English is not your first language). The immigration process is not difficult for an experienced attorney to navigate but it can be overwhelming for somebody who is seeing the forms for their first time. Between the added pressure of having you (and possibly your family’s status at stake) and considering the percentages from the USCIS, it may be best to play-it-safe and put the experience of a professional on your side. We have experienced immigration attorneys in Miami, West Palm Beach, Tampa and Orlando ready to help you. Please contact us to inquire about a free immigration consultation in Miami or any of the cities where we have offices.