If you are an undocumented immigrant, and you would like to file an application for the Deferred Action for DREAMers Program, you may be asking yourself whether or not you need an attorney to help you or if you can do it yourself. Attorneys are educated in the law. Many attorneys limit their legal practice solely to immigration law and they are experts in this field. Immigration attorneys know how to correctly file an immigration application, how to competently represent you before an immigration officer or judge, and can intelligently advise you of all the risks and benefits involved with going forward given your specific and unique situation.Non-attorneys
A non-attorney may not be sufficiently skilled to understand the legal ramifications of certain actions or inactions by the client, but a skilled lawyer can. Falling into even one pitfall can be very costly as your application may be rejected or denied. The USCIS could in fact take adverse steps against a person who is not qualified but somehow applied.Gathering necessary documents
An attorney can advise you what documentary evidence you should gather in preparation for your DREAMer application. An attorney can also advise you what documentation you should not submit with your application. An attorney will review the documents you have gathered and make certain that you meet the criteria necessary to qualify. For example, in order to prove that you were physically present in the United States during the required timeframe requires an examination of your documents to make certain that those years are accounted for in a manner that the USCIS would recognize.Having misrepresentation or document fraud issues
If you have ever made a misrepresentation or used forged or counterfeit documents for immigration or work purposes, a skilled attorney can protect your interests. Some misrepresentations would not affect your case, but others could render you ineligible for DREAMer relief and removable from the United States. If you have immigration fraud issues, it is to your benefit to speak with an attorney who can offer possible defenses in support of your application, such as the lack of criminal intent.Having a criminal record
If you have anything on your criminal record, this could make your situation extremely tricky. Attorneys have a high degree of understanding state criminal law as well as immigration law, and an attorney can use this expertise to differentiate between a criminal charge, a conviction, and a mitigated plea agreement. Being arrested and charged with a serious crime may not necessarily hurt you depending on what the final conviction and sentence was in your particular case.
It is important to be aware that certain criminal convictions do not have any immigration consequences while other seemingly small offenses can result in denial of your application and even removal from the United States. Some offenses may result in you being incarcerated indefinitely under the mandatory detention law. An attorney can examine your record and tell you what you can expect before you file your application.
Also, criminal law varies greatly from state to state. For example, a crime may be defined by the New York State Penal Code and by the Ohio Revised Code in different ways. A crime could be defined differently depending on what state you are in. For example, the crime of breaking and entering and the crime of burglary may sound like the same thing, but a conviction for one may get you removed from the United States and a conviction for the other may not. An attorney can explain this distinction to the USCIS on your behalf.Conclusion
There is a Spanish saying that "lo barato sale caro" meaning you get what you pay for. It could cost so much more to fix a problem than to do it right in the first place. If you have questions about the new DREAMer program, please contact our immigration attorneys or call The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates, Co., LPA at the nearest office close to you to consult with an attorney.