All posts by Cheng, Cho, & Yee, Immigration Lawyers

Does an accident case affect a visa in Chicago, Illinois?

Immigrants who get involved in car accidents often wonder, “does an accident case affect a visa?” It can be terrifying to think that an accident you had no control over might impact your legal status in the country. Fortunately, in most cases, an accident won’t impact your ability to stay in the country. In fact, you can even file a personal injury lawsuit, if eligible.

Passport book with Visa paper open on red and white stripes.

Visas and Immigration Law in Illinois

Effective July 1, 2024, undocumented immigrants in Illinois may obtain a four-year driving license, replacing the Temporary Visitor Driver’s License currently available to undocumented immigrants. While you don’t need a visa to get a driver’s license, it’s important to understand how immigration laws and legal issues affect immigrants living in Illinois.

Criteria for Visa Applications and Renewals

Eligibility criteria for visa applications and renewals depend on the visa you have or want to apply for.

For example, a travel visa will require proof of funds for your trip and proof of strong ties to your home country, such as employment or enrollment in a university.

On the other hand, a student visa may require proof of enrollment in a U.S. institution, while a work visa may come with requirements such as a job offer and proof of qualifications.

If you’re trying to sponsor a relative for a visa, immigration legal services attorneys can guide you through the process and requirements.

What Is the Impact of Legal Issues on Visa Status?

Legal issues may affect your visa status. For example, staying in the country unlawfully (failing to extend your visa before it expires) may lead to a removal and may even get you barred from entering the US for a while.

Certain criminal issues could also impact your visa. While minor crimes won’t, crimes that fall into the categories of moral turpitude or aggravated felony could lead to a deportation.

One of the most common immigration myths is that if you are charged with a misdemeanor, it is automatic grounds for deportation from the United States. Misdemeanors are not automatic grounds for deportation, although it is possible that they could lead to a deportation hearing, depending on the nature of the crime.

For example, in Illinois, domestic violence is a misdemeanor, not a felony. Nevertheless, spousal abuse is considered a crime of moral turpitude and can thus lead to deportation.

Crimes of moral turpitude can include fraud, assault with the intent to murder, domestic violence, and, for the purposes of our case, aggravated DUI (driving under the influence). If you were driving under the influence of drugs, the same may apply.

However, that doesn’t automatically mean that if you were driving under the influence, you will be deported.

The Impact of an Accident Case on a Visa in Illinois

Crimes of moral turpitude are not clearly defined. Thus, there is some room for interpretation. Generally, if a crime could be considered a petty offense, you would not be deported.

If you were driving under the influence but without aggravating factors, it might not qualify as a crime of moral turpitude.

For example, if you had a valid license, possessed the required insurance, had not taken drugs, and did not have a child in a car, it might not be considered an aggravated DUI, but rather a simple DUI. Those qualify as aggravating factors. Even if you were speeding and drunk, it would still be only a simple DUI if there are no other aggravating factors.

There are other factors that could cause a DUI to be considered an aggravated DUI. For example, a third DUI offense is always considered an aggravated DUI. If the DUI leads to someone’s death or even great bodily injury to another person, it is an aggravated DUI.

Even if an aggravating factor was present, if it has been five years after your entry to the United States, and this is your first crime of moral turpitude, you may be able to avoid deportation.

What Is the Role of Fault and Liability in Visa Considerations?

While drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs may lead to a deportation hearing, simply getting into a car accident may not, even if you would be considered at fault from a personal injury perspective.

You may be charged with a misdemeanor after a car accident. For example, a hit-and-run could be charged as a misdemeanor if it only involved property damage. An accident caused by speeding may also be a misdemeanor.

What if You Were Not at Fault?

Regardless of your immigration status, you can file a personal injury lawsuit.

Many immigrants, especially undocumented ones, are fearful of filing lawsuits after a car accident case and don’t attempt to collect damages. They worry that bringing too much attention to the car accident case could somehow lead to their deportation, and they would rather stay away from the limelight.

However, you can’t be deported for filing a lawsuit, regardless of your immigration status. In fact, if the other driver is at fault, insurance companies and prosecutors are not allowed to use your immigration status against you, threaten to report you, or deny your claim based on it.

What if You Were Driving While Drunk?

It may be a simple DUI, in which case it may not affect your immigration status. On the other hand, if you recklessly endangered a child passenger, had consumed drugs such as heroin, or were driving with a suspended license, it might classify as a crime of moral turpitude. In such a case, having a lawyer by your side is critical.

Factors to Consider in Accident Cases to Minimize Visa Impact

If you were involved in an accident, there are steps you should take to minimize the impact it could have on your visa and legal status. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Maintain Legal Documentation

It’s important to maintain legal documentation. Keep all documents related to your visa in a folder, and put that folder in a safe place.

For example, if you’re here on a work visa, keep a copy of your job offer and an employment verification letter, which details your position, the start and end dates at your job, and other significant details.

If you’re here on a student visa, keep a copy of your enrollment documents, acceptance letter, and student card, as well as any other documents your lawyer recommends.

Of course, you should also keep documents such as your passport, green card, and social security card (if you have one) in a safe place. Your social security number is more important than your physical card, so write it down or memorize it. You will usually need it when opening up a bank account or getting a job.

Make photocopies of your passport, driver’s license, social security card, and other documents and keep them in a safe place as well.

Finally, it’s recommended to make electronic copies of your documents, too. You can take pictures of your documents or scan them and upload them to a safe location.

Seek Legal Advice and Guidance Throughout the Accident Case Process

Have an attorney by your side. An attorney can ensure you maintain the proper documentation and will represent you if things go south.

If you got into an accident, a lawyer can examine your case and help you understand how it might affect you. If you committed an offense that could lead to a deportation hearing, an attorney can argue your case in court and win.

It’s important to know what to ask an immigration lawyer the first time you meet with him or her. Some questions to ask include:

  • How long have you been practicing?
  • Are you familiar with cases such as mine?
  • What are my chances of success?
  • What documents do I need?

An attorney is there to help, even if you get yourself into a sticky situation. He or she will find the best path forward. It’s normal to feel anxious if you get into an accident as an immigrant, but having an attorney by your side can help facilitate the best circumstances.

4 Challenges That Immigrants Face in Chicago, Illinois

Immigrants in Chicago, Illinois, often face challenges integrating into American society. 4 challenges that immigrants face include the language barrier, discrimination, accessing healthcare and social services, and obtaining employment. Fortunately, with the right help, overcoming these obstacles is possible.

Applying for an Immigration visa.

What Are the Most Common Challenges Faced by Immigrants in Illinois?

There are over 1.8 million immigrants in Illinois. Unfortunately, many immigrants new to the country find it tough to acclimate. Here are some of the most common challenges you may face as an immigrant:

Language Barrier

The language barrier is one of the biggest challenges of immigrant adaptation to American culture.

Many immigrants in Illinois come from Latin America, where Spanish is the predominant language. Others come from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.

Whether your native language is Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Arabic, Hindi, Russian, or any other language, you might find it hard to acclimate to a country that predominantly speaks English.

English, in particular, has a lot of quirks that can be confusing to new speakers. Getting the pronunciation right is another challenge; incorrect pronunciation can lead to misunderstandings and even prejudice.

Whether it’s figuring out how to use the public transportation system, book a doctor’s appointment, or even buy something in the supermarket, the language barrier can complicate all aspects of everyday life. It can lead to feelings of isolation, social exclusion, and loneliness, which can have an impact on your mental health.

Discrimination and Prejudice

One of the biggest challenges that immigrants face when arriving in the United States is discrimination. There are people who, unfortunately, are biased and prejudiced towards immigrants. Discrimination and prejudice can manifest in various ways, including being excluded from employment opportunities.

Often, the discrimination can take the form of abuse and harassment. Verbal harassment from strangers is common, and even physical abuse is a possibility.

Sometimes, discrimination and prejudice is harder to spot, but it’s felt, nonetheless. For example, people may stare at people who emigrated from another country due to their skin tone, facial features, or accent.

At other times, they may treat them with suspicion for no reason. For example, an employee following or watching an immigrant in a shop to make sure they aren’t shoplifting, with no cause for suspicion other than their appearance, is a form of discrimination.

Employment and Economic Challenges

One of the challenges immigrants face is gaining employment. Many immigrants are forced to work “under the table,” which frequently leads to exploitation and poor working conditions. This typically involves working for menial jobs that are underpaid and don’t come with any benefits, such as overtime or health insurance.

However, you may be eligible to apply for a work permit, giving you authorization to work in the United States legally. For example, immigrants who apply for asylum can file for employment authorization after 150 days. If you already have a work permit, it’s critical to file for an extension (if not eligible for an automatic extension) to avoid working illegally once it expires.

Even if you possess the proper documents, some employers may discriminate against immigrants, despite laws to the contrary. Federal law prohibits discriminating against someone based on their ethnicity, national origin, citizenship, or immigration status, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

Difficulties in gaining employment may lead to other economic challenges. Many immigrants send money to their relatives in their home countries, which means there is less money left over for them, forcing them to take on second jobs.

In turn, economic challenges may lead to housing problems. Many immigrants live with extended family in small houses to save on the rising costs of rent. Others live in poor housing conditions or are forced to seek refuge in homeless shelters.

Finding housing can be challenging due to other reasons. Some landlords may discriminate against immigrants. Others may require large deposits, such as two months’ rent upfront, or require documentation (such as a credit report check) that you might not have.

Access to Healthcare and Social Services

Immigrants may also face challenges in accessing healthcare. Health insurance, while available, can be expensive for immigrants who are trying to establish themselves and gain a solid financial footing.

In addition, the application process is often confusing, especially if a language barrier is involved. Many immigrants are unaware of the various health insurance options available to them, or don’t know where to start.

The same applies to other social services and federal programs designed to help those facing tough economic conditions. For example, the Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants & Children (WIC) is a federal program that provides food benefits in the form of a card that can be redeemed for food items such as milk and eggs. While WIC does not check an applicant’s immigration status, many immigrants are unaware of how to access these benefits.

The Immigration Process in Illinois

It’s important to understand the immigration process in Illinois, including your immigration status and rights under federal law. It will help you better access services that can assist you in acclimating to your new home.

Types of Visas

There are two main categories of US visas for immigrants in Illinois: immigrant and non-immigrant visas. Immigrant visas are designed for immigrants who intend to live in the United States on a permanent basis. Non-immigrant visas, on the other hand, are designed for individuals who wish to visit, work, or stay in the United States on a temporary basis.

Each type of visa has multiple categories, depending on the purpose of your visit. A student visa allows you to study, for example, but it only allows you to work 20 hours per week while school is in session.

A green card is issued after arrival in the United States to eligible individuals on an immigrant visa. It grants permanent residence rights, and after several years, green card holders can pursue citizenship.

If you need help understanding the type of visa you are on and the rights it offers, or if you need help getting a visa for a family member, contact an immigration attorney.

Affording Legal Representation

Many attorneys offer free case evaluations. Whether you are trying to sponsor a spouse for a visa or green card or facing another immigration issue, such as deportation, a free case evaluation can help you determine affordability and payment options available to you.

Fear of Deportation Can Impact the Quality of Life

Many immigrants live in fear of deportation, whether warranted or not. Facing the threat of deportation after years of building a life in America can be terrifying. Fortunately, there are avenues available to fight a deportation order.

How an Immigration Attorney Can Help You

The methods for fighting a deportation or removal notice depends on your case. If you have been living in the country for more than 10 years, can show good moral character, and can demonstrate that the removal will cause exceptional and unusual hardship to a citizen, you can file for a cancellation of removal.

Regardless of your situation, you have a right to argue your case in court. There are various types of deportation hearings, and an immigration legal services attorney can help you navigate the process and provide representation.

Depending on your case, you may be able to file for asylum status. You may also be eligible for programs such as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) or DAPA (Deferred Action for Parental Accountability), which can offer you certain protections and prevent the threat of deportation.

Questions to Ask an Attorney at a Consultation

One of the first things you should ask your attorney is how frequently he or she deals with your case. Immigration law is a broad practice, as it can involve work permit applications, green card sponsorship, representation in removal hearings, family processes, filings for asylum or refugee status, and more.

Some cases are specific. For example, if you are transgender, ask your attorney how he or she can guarantee your rights as a transgender immigrant. Transgender immigrants have the same rights as other immigrants, and they may also be able to seek asylum if they would be persecuted in their home countries.

You should ask your attorney how often you will be in contact with him or her, the strategies he or she will use to win your case, and how much it will cost you. Ask him or her what your chances of success are so you get a realistic picture of what to expect.

Most importantly, be as specific and detailed as possible about your case, so the attorney can get an accurate picture of the challenges you face. Don’t hesitate to hold anything back. 

What if the USCIS Makes a Mistake?

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may make mistakes during the immigration process, but it’s possible for individuals to have these mistakes corrected as needed. Applicants may know that if they make mistakes on their applications, it could lead to delays or denials; but what if the USCIS makes a mistake? Such errors can be costly for immigrants, which is why it’s critical to remedy these issues as soon as possible to avoid potential deportation or other problems in Illinois.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security logo. What if the USCIS makes a mistake.

Learn more about the mistakes that USCIS can make and how to fix them here.

USCIS and Its Role in Immigration Processes

Whether aiming to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR) or a U.S. citizen who can legally work and live in the U.S., immigrants will need to go through USCIS, which is an agency responsible for processing immigrant and non-immigrant applications.

USCIS is a government agency that ensures individuals immigrate lawfully to the U.S. Today, the agency has a body of around 20,000 contractors and employees across the globe, and it provides immigrants with the resources they need to complete the immigration process. When attempting to complete the immigration process, USCIS reviews all applications and has the role of approving or rejecting them based on applicants’ qualifications.

While USCIS works to avoid mistakes during the immigration process, it isn’t invulnerable to them and has the ability to make occasional errors.

Types of Mistakes Made by USCIS in Illinois

USCIS is reluctant to admit when it has made a mistake and may attempt to prove that it hasn’t, even when the agency has made an error.

For example, an official with USCIS might neglect to notice that an applicant has paid a fee for submitting an application and claim that the applicant still owes a fee. USCIS could also be responsible for clerical errors, such as printing the wrong name on a green card or including incorrect dates. In these instances, it can be difficult to show that USCIS is behind the mistake and demand that the agency correct it.

Some mistakes USCIS makes may be minor, but others can be serious and have a significant impact on immigrants’ lives. Depending on the scope of the mistake, individuals can take various actions to correct them.

Impact of Mistakes on Individuals’ Lives and Immigration Status

USCIS mistakes can negatively impact individuals in different ways, depending on the circumstances and nature of the mistake.

For example, USCIS may erroneously deny someone’s application when attempting to become an LPR in this country. The agency may claim that the individual hasn’t submitted the correct information, sufficient supporting documentation, or a filing fee, even when he or she has done so. As a result, the individual’s immigration status could be compromised, and he or she could face deportation in extreme cases.

Filing fees can also be costly, especially when immigrants are in difficult financial situations. For instance, the filing fee for an immigrant petition today is $775, and other fees could apply based on the situation. USCIS may reject an application and keep the filing fee, which could not only impact a person’s immigrant status but also make things even more challenging financially for applicants and their loved ones.

Ultimately, the impact of USCIS mistakes can be significant in many cases, which is why it’s critical to correct them when possible. It can be challenging to prove that USCIS was behind a mistake in the immigration process, but the right approach can provide evidence of mistakes and get USCIS to make a correction when necessary.

Legal Recourse for USCIS Mistakes

In the event of a USCIS mistake during the immigration process, you may get a correction by either requesting a correction from the agency or, in more serious cases, taking legal action to ensure a correction.

How to Request an Error Correction From USCIS

If you want to get USCIS to correct the mistakes it made during immigration, you can work to make sure the agency makes the change requested in the following general steps:

1.      Write a letter of explanation. You can write a letter to USCIS that details the mistake. This letter should include the date, identifying information like your name and case number, your mailing address, and your signature, along with other relevant information and an in-depth explanation of the mistake.

2.      Provide supporting documentation. To prove the nature of the error and ensure the desired correction, include photocopies of supporting documentation with your letter. This evidence will include the erroneous documentation, your letter, and any documents showing the correct information.

3.      Send the correction request to USCIS. After writing your explanation letter and including any relevant supporting documents, submit the letter to USCIS. You must send the letter and documentation to the USCIS service center that processed your immigration application.

Depending on the circumstances, you may also need to submit other documentation, such as specific forms with fields allowing you to detail mistakes. The USCIS website lists the different steps to take based on your unique situation.

Appealing USCIS Decisions

If USCIS denies your application due to a mistake that the agency made, your method of appeal will depend on your situation. For example, if you have attempted to undergo naturalization and USCIS makes a mistake in the process, you have the option of applying for an administrative appeal that can take as long as a year to complete.

Generally, appealing an USCIS decision will involve appealing to either the administrative appeals office or The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). When going through administrative appeals, these cases often entail filing an I-290B, which is a motion to reconsider or reopen a case. You may also file a motion with your local USCIS field office. In some cases, especially those involving minor mistakes, USCIS may admit its mistake and issue a quick correction.

However, for bigger mistakes, you may want to file a lawsuit against USCIS to have a federal court overturn the decision, but these instances may still entail going through administrative appeals or the BIA.

Depending on the nature of the mistake and your unique situation, an attorney with experience handling these cases may advise you on the right steps to correct a mistake.

Consult With an Experienced Immigration Attorney

If you believe USCIS is responsible for a mistake during immigration, you may need assistance from an immigration legal services attorney. These lawyers have experience handling immigration cases of all types and will determine how to go about correcting a mistake of any kind.

Rebuilding After a USCIS Mistake

Following any kind of USCIS mistake, it can be difficult for individuals to recover, especially if the mistake compromises the individual’s immigrant status. Thankfully, there are remedies available to immigrants to help them recover following a mistake, including seeking corrections and getting help with their applications.

One way the U.S. government is helping immigrants succeed with the immigration process is through USCIS grants. These are funds that go toward agencies that help lawful permanent residents prepare for naturalization. While these grants don’t fund individuals, the agencies they fund can provide immigrants with the resources they need to successfully become American citizens.

Additionally, attorneys can help their clients prepare necessary documentation and maximize their chances of success with the application process after a mistake. Attorneys may be able to remedy the error and properly prepare documentation to increase the chances of approval from USCIS when resubmitting paperwork and documentation.

It’s also important to know how to check USCIS processing times online, which can help you determine how long you’ll need to wait before receiving approval based on your immigration category.

Options for Rectifying Immigration Status and Restoring Lost Opportunities

If an error on the part of USCIS compromises your immigration application, another fix is a “nunc pro tunc” request, which is Latin for “now for then.” This is a method that can help individuals receive approval for an application and reverse a denial that resulted from a clerical error.

Upon making a nunc pro tunc request, USCIS may review your case to verify the accuracy of documentation and its decision. In the process, the agency may conclude that an error occurred that prevented the proper recording of the decision.

This course of action could be one of the best methods of restoring your immigrant status and give you another chance to succeed with an application.

Taking the Right Action in the Event of a USCIS Mistake

Like other agencies, USCIS isn’t impervious to mistakes and can make them at some point during the immigration process. Remaining diligent and keeping an eye out for errors can help you identify what if the USCIS makes a mistake, determine what to do in the event of an error, and ensure you don’t request a correction too late into the process. An attorney may help you confirm whether a mistake occurred due to USCIS error and put you on the path to correcting it, enabling you to rebuild following the error.

How Do I Correct a Mistake on My Green Card?

How do I correct a mistake on my green card? After receiving a green card in Illinois with incorrect information on it, you may be able to correct the details by taking the right steps. Learn more about common issues people see with their green cards and how to correct them.

VISA United States of America. Green Card US Permanent resident card. How do I correct a mistake on my Green Card

Most Common Mistakes on Green Cards

After successfully applying for and receiving a green card, green card recipients may notice mistakes in their documentation. In other cases, applicants may make mistakes when completing their applications that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may include in the final documentation.

Regardless of the source of the mistake, the following are some of the most common ones that appear in green card documents.

Misspelled Names or Incorrect Personal Information

It’s possible to include the wrong name on the green card. A clerical error is usually responsible for these mistakes, often through a spelling error that may result from a government worker misreading the name on an application.

Apart from names, other types of incorrect information could appear on the green card, including the country of origin, USCIS number, and sex.

Incorrect Immigration Category or Classification

Another potential mistake on a green card could include an incorrect category or classification. For instance, someone might have entered the country on an IR1 visa as the spouse of a U.S. citizen, but the green card lists an IR2 category, which pertains to other family members of a U.S. citizen.

To avoid this error during the application process, it’s critical to know which immigrant category applies to you.

Inaccurate Dates or Expiration Information

Green card recipients may notice an incorrect date of birth on the green card or another incorrect date. In addition to birthdates, two key dates that must be correct include the card expiration date and your residency date, both of which indicate the validity of your card and the chance to change immigration status after being a resident for a certain period.

If you notice these or any other mistakes on your green card, you must take immediate action to seek a correction. Failure to do so could put your green card and immigration status in jeopardy.

Steps to Correct a Mistake on Your Green Card in Illinois

After noticing any type of error on a green card or green card application, you can take the following steps to have the U.S. government correct the information and provide you with a valid replacement green card.

Gather Required Documentation

The first step you’ll need to take is to collect all relevant supporting documentation and prepare to submit a request for correction.

The supporting documents you’ll need appear in the Specific Instructions section of the USCIS instructions for completing Form I-90, which you’ll ultimately need to submit to USCIS.

These supporting documents must contain details such as:

  • An Alien Registration Number, or “A-Number”
  • USCIS Online Account Number you may have received if you connected with USCIS through its online filing system
  • Your full legal name
  • Legal name changes
  • Mailing address
  • Physical address

These and other pieces of evidence will help support the correction and provide USCIS with accurate, up-to-date information.

Contact the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

If USCIS hasn’t noticed the error on your green card already, you will want to contact the agency. However, if you only realized there was an error on your application after sending it, you will need to wait until you receive a notice from USCIS indicating that the agency obtained your application before reaching out to make a correction.

If you must wait for a notice of receipt, you’ll find information that can help you navigate a correction once you receive the notice. This document will include details like your case number that can help USCIS officials locate and manage your case. As soon as you receive this notice or if you already have it, you can contact USCIS Contact Center and let the agency know about the error, requesting a correction.

USCIS makes it easy to submit a request for correction via the agency website, allowing you to make a service request for a typographic error. At this time, you would schedule a service request appointment to meet with a USCIS official who can discuss your case.

Prepare for the Appointment

After submitting a service request and scheduling an appointment with USCIS, prepare for the appointment ahead of time. This will entail collecting and organizing copies of documentation containing the error, including your green card or green card application.

Make sure you have all relevant supporting documentation with correct, up-to-date information, as this will help ensure your new green card contains accurate and error-free information.

Attend the Appointment

Once you’ve prepared for your interview, you’re ready to attend. During this appointment, you’ll have the chance to discuss the error and provide any supporting documentation to help make a correction.

Follow Up and Await Decision

Upon completing your interview, USCIS should reach out to you shortly after to determine whether it has corrected your information and will send you a replacement green card.

Importance of Correcting Mistakes on Your Green Card

If you notice an error on your green card, you must notify USCIS as soon as possible to remedy the situation. Otherwise, certain issues can occur that may complicate matters. For example, USCIS may discover the error and invalidate the green card.

Take Prompt Action

If you want to know more about how to speed up the green card process, acting fast is one of the best ways. If you notice an error and don’t act on it, USCIS could notice it later, which can lead to problems that may result in an invalid green card and negatively impact your immigration status.

More specifically, errors on a green card could make it difficult for you to gain employment, travel domestically or abroad, and otherwise make full use of your lawful permanent resident status.

Even if the error appears minor and inconsequential, an erroneous green card could be the source of much headache later. It’s best to address the issue as soon as you notice it, which can help you obtain a correct green card.

Seek Legal Help

If you’re not sure how to go about correcting an error on your green card or obtaining the right supporting documentation, you may benefit from connecting with an immigration legal services attorney in Illinois.

In addition to helping correct an error on a green card, an immigration attorney can help you in numerous ways. For example, a qualified lawyer could help immigrants with the initial application for their green card, renew their green card, and go through the naturalization process to become U.S. citizens.

An immigration attorney may also help with legal issues regarding your immigrant status. If for any reason you are facing deportation or other problems regarding immigration, an attorney could represent you and build a case in your favor.

Before a consultation, you can also learn about which documents to bring an attorney for a green card, which can help your consultation go more smoothly.

Avoiding Mistakes During the Green Card Application Process

While USCIS might be behind some errors on a green card, it’s also crucial to avoid errors during the application process.

If you’re preparing documentation to send for a green card application, taking some key steps to keep the process efficient will help you successfully apply.

Some mistakes that people can make on their green card applications include:

  • Not including all relevant forms — When applying for a green card, the process can be complex and involve multiple forms that you’ll need to send to USCIS. Failure to include any pertinent forms could result in a green card denial.
  • Neglecting to sign all forms — You must also provide your signature for all forms requesting them, and you’ll need to ensure your signature is in the right location on each form.
  • Providing false information — This mistake could lead to a lifetime ban from the U.S., even if you fail to provide correct information by mistake. If USCIS believes that you’re not telling the truth about yourself on your application, not only will the government deny your application, but it may also bar you from entering the U.S.
  • Ineligibility — Sometimes, individuals may apply for a green card or another form of documentation when they aren’t qualified, which will lead to an automatic denial.

These and other costly mistakes are critical to avoid during the application process. Working with an attorney can help you simplify the process and increase your chances of successfully applying for a green card or visa. Taking the right steps when noticing a mistake at any point before, during, or after the green card application process will help you avoid any future problems down the road. 

Immigration Myths Debunked

Debunking immigration myths is important for immigrants and natural-born citizens alike. Certain immigration myths continue to perpetuate among many people in Illinois, and throughout the U.S. However, it’s essential to understand where these myths are wrong and the reality behind them.

Young man visiting embassy for visa application. Immigration myths

Here, you’ll learn more about some myths out there and their respective truths.

What Are Some of the Most Common Myths Associated With Immigration?

The following are some of the most frequently spread myths about immigration in the U.S. These myths have led to a harmful perception of immigrants that simply isn’t the reality of the immigrant experience.

Immigrants Take Away Jobs from U.S. Citizens

One of the most common myths around immigration is that immigrants take jobs from American citizens, leaving the native population with a high unemployment rate.

However, the reality is immigrants typically aren’t competing with the rest of the U.S. workforce. Employers often seek immigrant workers with skill sets that they can’t find in the American-born workforce, and studies have shown that immigrants actually create more jobs than they take.

Meanwhile, low-skill immigrants and low-skill native workers typically work in vastly different areas. Many of the jobs that low-skill native employees take require English-speaking skills and work authorization. These requirements can be challenging for immigrants to meet.

Undocumented Immigrants Strain Public Services

Contrary to popular belief, undocumented immigrants don’t actually qualify for many public services in the U.S. In fact, undocumented immigrants who entered the country illegally can’t obtain benefits like food stamps or welfare, leaving them without assistance in many respects.

While undocumented immigrants still qualify for emergency care services and education, they won’t be able to apply for public assistance through most government programs. Such programs require legal immigrants to have lived in the country for at least five years along with immigration documents, qualifiers that undocumented immigrants don’t have. Even documented immigrants don’t rely on public services as much as people born in the U.S.

Immigrants Increase Crime Rates

Another reality to consider is that immigrants don’t contribute as much as native-born individuals to the country’s crime rate, especially when it comes to serious crimes.

Immigrants generally don’t commit as many property or violent crimes, and studies have found that the rate of violent crime in the nation has decreased as the number of immigrants increases.

Also, recent research from Stanford University has found that immigrants are generally less likely to be incarcerated than U.S.-born citizens.

Immigrants Don’t Succeed Economically

Some people also believe that immigrants don’t excel financially in this country as they did in the past. However, this is a misconception. Immigrants actually succeed just as well as they used to in the early days of immigration.

Immigrants work to grow economically after moving to the U.S. and tend to integrate just as much as they used to nearly a century ago. Many immigrants attempt to move into neighborhoods with large native-born populations, learn English, and otherwise try to successfully integrate into American culture as much as possible.

There Is an Impending “Immigration Crisis”

Outcries warning of a pending immigration crisis are yet another of the most common immigration myths. Many immigration critics claiming that too many immigrants are entering the U.S. at one time.

The truth contradicting this myth is that immigrants make up about the same percentage of American citizens as they had a century ago.

Immigrant Children Struggle to Climb Out of Poverty

Children of immigrants in the U.S. are just as likely to succeed economically as any immigrant. Even when born in poverty, these children tend to be able to rise to the middle class or higher statuses, overcoming their difficult upbringings.

Also, this trend occurs across immigrants from a wide range of countries, not just those from wealthier nations. For example, many successful children of immigrants come from families emigrating from countries like Mexico, Cuba, El Salvador, and many African nations.

Immigrants Don’t Want to Become U.S. Citizens

Immigrants who come to the country often want to gain citizenship or, at the very least, lawful permanent resident (LPR) status, which would make life easier for them in the U.S. For instance, many immigrants would like to become citizens to open up more job opportunities and bring family members to the U.S.

While this desire is strong for many immigrants, it can be difficult and time-consuming to navigate the citizenship process. Many undocumented immigrants who want to come to the country legally can’t do so quickly because of the many steps involved in legalization, and the U.S. government also often experiences a backlog that leads to long wait times for processing.

Documented and Undocumented Immigrants Are Separate From Each Other

Documented and undocumented immigrants aren’t necessarily separated from one another. Many immigrant families consist of both types of immigrants, such as those comprising native-born children with undocumented parents.

Also, many families enter the country with young children, who have the ability to speak English and integrate into American culture. Often times, however, their immigration status prevents them from accessing the same opportunities as U.S.-born children of immigrants.

Do Immigrants Pay Taxes in Illinois?

Immigrant households pay millions of dollars every year in taxes, including state and federal taxes. Even undocumented immigrants pay taxes in the form of income, sales, and property taxes. In addition, they contribute to the Social Security Administration in many cases, despite the fact that they are unable to receive these benefits without proper documentation and lawful residence in the U.S.

Immigration Screening Process

To help you determine how to enter the country legally as an immigrant, consider undergoing the immigration screening process with the help of an experienced immigration legal services attorney.

With the help of a screening, you can better figure out what chances you have to enter the country legally and potentially become a U.S. citizen.

The following are a few key steps involved in the screening process:

Biographical Reviews

The attorney will want to know about your biographical background to help gauge what opportunities you have. In the process, the attorney may ask about your:

  • Previous contact with immigration
  • Relationships with any family members who are U.S. citizens
  • Time spent living and working in the U.S.
  • Sexual orientation
  • Educational history

Extensive Background Checks

In addition, you may be subject to a deep background check to determine what kind of criminal history you have. You may not be able to gain citizenship if you have a history of violent or otherwise bad faith crimes on your record.

For instance, you could be unable to legally immigrate to the U.S. if you have convictions for armed robbery, domestic violence, drug trafficking, or sex offenses.

Legal Pathways for Immigrants to Become Citizens

During your screening, you could find the right path to becoming a U.S. citizen with the right approach based on your situation.

Some pathways for immigration include:

A Green Card Via Marriage

One potential method for gaining citizenship in the U.S. entails obtaining a green card by marrying an LPR or American citizen. However, you must show proof that the marriage is valid and that your relationship is genuine.

The DACA Program

Children of immigrants traveling on DACA could also gain citizenship through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA doesn’t directly provide a path to citizenship, but these children of immigrants could avoid deportation and obtain valid work permits.

Asylum Status

If someone believes that he or she faces persecution while staying in his or her country of origin, it may be possible to enter the country legally as a refugee with asylum status. You must meet certain criteria to qualify for this status, including being present in the US and likely facing discrimination if you return to your home country. However, if asylum is denied in the US, you may be able to appeal the decision or enter the country using another method.

U Visas

You may also be able to enter the country legally if you are the victim of a crime under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act. The U visa gives individuals protection from law enforcement while encouraging them to cooperate with prosecutors and police.

Continuing to Debunk Immigration Myths

There remain many immigration myths that continue to spread in Illinois and throughout the U.S. Such misconceptions can make many immigrants concerned about discrimination and limited opportunities in the U.S. Many of these myths are untrue, and it’s often possible for undocumented immigrants and those with other statuses to become U.S. citizens when they take the right path. Ultimately, immigrants have many opportunities to flourish in the U.S. with legal assistance and proper documentation.