Trying to decide whether to hire a notario, form filler, or immigration Lawyer to help you? Some people hire a lawyer; some work with notorios or form fillers; others seek the help of family and friends who have gone through the process before.
Sometimes people feel like their cases are relatively simple, so it doesn’t make sense to spend money hiring an attorney if it’s cheaper to just work with a form filler or a notario. But, before you entrust anyone with your immigration case, ask yourself these questions:
Does the person who advises you have a law degree?
Does he/she have experience with handling immigration cases?
If the answer is “no” to either, you may want to think twice before you taking their advice.
Law Degree and Experience in Immigration Law is Important
Hiring someone who doesn’t have a law degree and experience practicing immigration law for your immigration case to save money is like buying the cheapest tires to put on your family car – the car that your spouse and your children ride in every day – just because it’s a little cheaper. Your family is important to you, so why would you put tires on your car that are more likely to have a blowout on the highway? That’s risking too much.
Hiring a notario, a form filler, or an attorney who has no experience in immigration law is like putting the cheapest tires on your car and then getting in the car with your family – it’s taking a chance that’s not worth it. It doesn’t make sense to put something that’s so important on the line just to save money.
Immigration Success is in the Details
Filing the wrong application, filing an application at the wrong location, checking the wrong box on an application, or filing an application when you have reason not to, all can result in the following negative consequences:
- Wasting time
- Wasting money
- Bringing you to the attention of immigration customs enforcement
- Causing you to not be allowed back into the United States if you leave
- Causing you to miss a window of opportunity in your case
The likelihood of success and possible consequences of filing an application are all things you need to understand before you decide to file anything. Regardless of what you may have seen in your friends’ or relatives’ cases, your case is unique. Small details make a big difference in an immigration case. Some of those little details that make a big difference include:
- Time in the United States without legal status
- Time in the United States after an illegal entry
- How many illegal entries you have made
- Whether you passed through a checkpoint when you entered the United States or not, even if you did not have a visa to enter
- Taking voluntary departure or receiving a deportation order
- Criminal history, even low-level misdemeanors
- Prior marriages or divorces
- Children born at any time, regardless of whether they are applying to be in the US with you
- Previously-filed immigration applications or petitions
- Being a victim of a crime
- Using false documents to enter the US or work in the US
Depending on when events in your history took place, your immigration status (or lack of status), your family members and their immigration status, and other issues all can affect the outcome of your immigration application. All of these need to be taken into account before you file anything with the Immigration Service.
We live in an age of information, so facts about your history that you assume (or hope) no one can find out are available. Your case needs to be handled in a way that takes into account your history so that you have a plan for how to handle it if a negative issue comes up.
Why Hire an Immigration Lawyer?
You should seek assistance from an experienced immigration lawyer – not a notario or a service that helps fill out forms, or even an attorney who doesn’t specialize in immigration. Immigration law is not about the forms – it’s about whether you should file them and what result you might be able to achieve based on your situation.
Immigration law is complex and the facts of each person’s situation, the time during which the facts happened, and many other factors affect what might happen in each person’s case. They also affect how quickly a case might be decided, what options the person may have available to them in the future, and what the risks of filing an application are. And in the first 100 days of the Trump administration, immigration policies are changing rapidly.
This it is a time to take action if it will benefit you, but you need an experienced immigration attorney to identify the potential issues in your case and provide you with a comprehensive assessment of your options.
As a Board Certified Immigration Attorney in Texas, with 9+ years of experience, and several Top Immigration Lawyers in Houston awards, I have seen many people who incurred extra expense, anxiety, or unexpected problems with their cases a result of working with notarios, form fillers, and people have good intentions but are simply not qualified to give legal advice. There is nothing worse than seeing someone get deported, barred from returning to the United States, separated from their family, detained or have their cases delayed for years due to a problem that could have been avoided.
Many of the people I see who have these problems end up having to pay an attorney to get their case back on track or to fix problems that result from mistakes that could have easily been avoided. Don’t put yourself in this situation. Don’t put the cheapest tires on the car that you and your family ride in. Your immigration case is too important to risk. Get advice from a reputable and experienced immigration attorney – you are worth it!