Immigration Tips

Posted on July 7, 2011

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Stamp it up!

As a follow-up to my post on my immigration escapade to Tapachula awhile back, I’m sharing a few pointers for avoiding immigration “issues.”  Immigration goes more smoothly when you’re prepared, so keep these thoughts in mind to navigate the immigration seas with ease:

1.  Know Your Plans

When you have a vision for where you want to live and work for the medium-term, your immigration decisions become vastly easier. You won’t apply for your spouse’s U.S. permanent residence if you want to move to his country.  You’ll apply for a fiance visa if your boyfriend´s abroad and you want to get married in the U.S.  Etc.  So plan ahead with your partner.  It’s a good practice anyway.

2. Be Organized and Timely

Know your deadlines, and respect them.  Have a file with all documents, and copies of documents, that are ready to be used when needed.  I wouldn’t have had to go to Tapachula if I had gotten my act together to file paperwork earlier.  Remember that maintaining your immigration status is your responsibility, not the government’s.

3. Keep It Legal

Immigration will ultimately be 100 times smoother if you stay within the bounds of the law.  Don’t take risks; take decisions that show you respect and desire to uphold the law.  This greatly enhances your case for big petitions like permanent residence or citizenship down the road.

4. Maintain Documentation of EVERYthing

Keep originals and copies of flight tickets, bus tickets, photos from trips that show where you’ve been and when.  All those love letters you sent each other?  Hold on to them, and then submit as evidence of your relationship.  Same goes for wedding invitations and programs, birthday cards, photos, visits, and the like.  And it goes without saying that you should always have translated, certified copies a-plenty of your own personal records (birth and marriage certs, etc).  If you´re doing immigration abroad, get your personal documents apostilled early — it takes forever!

5. Give Immigration Reason to Believe You

Remember that having property, cars, or a job show strong ties to ones home country and gives officials reason to believe that immigration is really based on a relationship instead of a desire to take advantage of U.S. jobs.  Remember that having joint accounts, credit cards, property, kids, and bills are good evidence of a committed relationship.  And always plead your specific case.  Mention shared interests, or reasons why you need to be together (disease, grief, violence in foreign country, etc.).  Use these personal details, and be convincing.  The immigration officials adjudicating your case are human, and will be more likely to give approvals if they’re reading something interesting, moving, or persuasive.

These are just some little guidelines to facilitate overall processes.  Remember it’s always a good idea to consult a professional!  And “a professional” does not mean your friends.  From your friends, you may hear stories about “this is what we did” or “this is what you should do,” but keep in mind that the case of every couple is different, and that you probably don’t know all the details, and things will probably go differently for you.  Best not to rely on rumors, but on the actual letter of the law – or on someone who knows how to interpret it well.  Happy immigrating!

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