Interviewer: Wow. Okay. When someone is trying to apply for a green card, when does a private attorney or lawyer come into play? Why would that be beneficial to them?
Jeanne Morales: Any time you’re dealing with any governmental agency. Anytime you’re dealing with the government, stuff goes beyond the form. When we do a process package for someone to get their green card we don’t just fill out the form for you and send it off. There’s an awful lot of supporting information that needs to go in that package. We do these day in and day out, and we know what is supposed to go in there. If you’ve only done it once for yourself, you won’t see all the times items are misplaced by the government or when information is misinterpreted by the government.
Really, with anything having to do with immigration, someone would be very wise to hire a lawyer right away. It is money well spent because you can get into trouble doing it yourself. If you don’t know about the drug use thing or how to get a physical, then it would be hard for you to navigate the process all by yourself. People also make the mistake of utilizing non-attorneys because they think that it is cheaper and it’s a better deal. In general, those non-attorney assistants, we call them “notorious” because they love to tell people or Spanish-speaking people that they’re a notary public. In the United States, this means nothing more than being able to witness signatures on official documents.
In other countries, a notorio publico is a type of attorney. In the United States, for less than 100 bucks you can fill out a one-page form and send it off to the Secretary of State of Texas. It is that easy to become a notary public to witness signatures. I think some people who are not attorneys and purport to help individuals with immigration paperwork, are committing a form of fraud by holding themselves out as “notorios”.
Interviewer: That goes into another question that I had. What are some other misconceptions people may have about getting green cards?
Jeanne Morales: A lot of people think that you can just apply for it. No, you have to be sponsored, either through family sponsorship or by employer sponsorship. If you’re sitting in France, you can’t just fill out a form and say I want a green card to come to the United States. We have the most immigrants from, China, India, Philippines, and Mexico. Those countries have special lists when it comes to wait times. Those from other countries are on a different list. China, India, Mexico and Philippines have their own separate list because there are so many applicants from those areas. The wait times can be far different for people depending on which country you are from.
Expediting the Process
Interviewer: Wow. Is there anything that they can do to expedite the process?
Jeanne Morales: There is under employer-based immigration. However; you can’t just apply for a work permit and go work for a company. The company has to sponsor you. Often times, the company will give up on sponsorships when they discover the actual wait times and complexity of the process. When companies realize that they’re dealing with three different US departments, each one with its own peculiarities, a lot of times they just give it up. There can be some expedited processing, but usually the only people in employer-sponsored immigration that do that are huge companies that have large factories or multiple worksites. These companies employ vast amounts of people and perhaps it is worth their time and effort to have immigration experts on their staff. Companies like Chevron and that type of thing.