1. #10. Misunderstand the law and its consequences.

Importantly, if a family member does not qualify under the law for a benefit, the US citizen has done nothing more than to inform Immigration where to find that family member. An unfortunate consequence may be deportation or removal.

  1. #9. Waste time reading application instructions.

There are several applications that must be filed with the Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS, formerly INS). However, some applications have instructions that may not apply to the particular case. For example, the portions of the residency application instructions that apply for a U.S. citizen petitioning a spouse are longer than the instructions for petitioning a child.

  1. #8. Miscalculate how long the process takes.

When a U.S. citizen petitions a sibling, it will be about ten years before that sibling is allowed to apply for residency. Some citizens do not realize this, or if they do, perhaps they do not know exactly when the sibling can apply for residency.

  1. #7. Send originals or inappropriate fees to CIS.

Any money sent to CIS should be drawn on a financial institution which will recuperate the funds should the check or money order be lost, as opposed to purchased from a grocery store or post office. Likewise, originals should rarely be sent to CIS.

  1. #6. Assume their case will be the same as their friend’s case.

Each case is different. The personal circumstances (how the couple met in a spouse sponsor case, for example) will affect whether or not the case gets approved. Also, do not assume that a friend can provide any advice as to the correct processing of your case.

  1. #5. Rely on CIS information officers.

Although there is a 1-800 National Customer Service telephone number available to the public, the information available through that method is extremely limited. Wait times are lengthy and the computers do not allow those information officers to access certain kinds of cases. As a result, officers may simply say “There is no information I can provide on your case.”

  1. #4. Fail to apply for proper travel authorization.

During the time that residency applications are in process, some foreign nationals may travel abroad. Without travel authorization, CIS assumes the application is abandoned and closes the file. A common mistake is to fail to recognize when the foreign national should apply for emergency travel permission.

  1. #3. Misunderstand which employment benefits apply when.

CIS issues an employment authorization document. The Social Security Administration issues a social security number. Because of confusion about when to apply for what, the foreign national sits around impatiently waiting for permission to obtain employment.

  1. #2. Arrive at CIS interview without sufficient preparation.

The worse mistake self-petitioners make is to arrive at the interview late or without all the proper documents to win their case. CIS officers will not organize information. The case will be continued or denied.

  1. #1. Assume they cannot afford an attorney.

Considering the delays in the case caused by improper preparation, the delays in obtaining work or travel permission, and the lost time on an appeal if the case is lost, the real question is: can you afford to not pay the reasonable rates of an immigration specialist?

Additional resources provided by the author

The information presented is not legal advice. Other exceptions and benefits may apply to your particular circumstances. For more information, please contact the Weston law firm of Elizabeth R. Blandon, Esq., at (954)385-0157. Information including the attorney’s credentials is available atwww.Blandon-Law.com.