An experienced immigration attorney is a critical guide in your immigration journey. For the partnership to be successful, it’s essential to be proactive, prepared, and transparent every step of the way. Your initial meeting with your immigration attorney is an opportunity to establish a strong relationship and path to success. Here are essential steps to consider as you prepare for your initial meeting with an immigration attorney.
Gather and Organize Documents
Generally, the more detail you can provide about your history and background, the more effective your immigration attorney can be. Collect all relevant documents, such as passports, visas, birth certificates, and any immigration-related paperwork into a marked folder or binder. Plan to bring the folder or binder with you to each appointment or hearing.
Documentation Checklist for Your Immigration Attorney
While it may be difficult to revisit traumatic experiences, your immigration attorney needs to understand every aspect of your experience so they can effectively advocate for you. Transparency is key when working with your immigration attorney. Ensure that you provide accurate and complete information, as any discrepancies or omissions can lead to complications during the immigration process.
Here is a list of documents that will be useful as you determine a plan of action with your immigration attorney.
- Current status documentation for you and your family and any current benefits received by you or your family (SNAP, SSI, SSDI).
- Names and dates of birth of your spouse, parents, and all children. Note any family members who were born in the U.S. or who recently got their green card or naturalized.
- Information about prior spouses (both yours and your current spouse’s, if applicable). Include names, dates of birth, dates of marriage, and dates of divorce.
- Address history for the past five years.
- Any disabilities you have.
- Form N-648 will be required before filing.
- Dates of travel and countries visited over the past five years.
- A list of entries and exits from the U.S. with notes including your age for each entry/exit and the manner of entry, such as without permission, with a visa, or with a travel permit through Advance Parole.
- Background circumstances about your journey to the U.S.
- Dates of any past petitions that were submitted for you or your immediate family. It is ideal to include copies of the petitions themselves or other formal documentation.
- Case numbers or Alien Registration Number (A#) for past or current/pending immigration cases you’ve participated in. Bring any relevant documentation for these cases.
- Employment documentation for the past five years.
- Family income and how it relates to Federal Poverty Guidelines.
- Details about any contact you’ve had with law enforcement, regardless of whether you were arrested or because you were the victim in an incident when the police were called. Ideally, request any relevant police reports or court documents in advance of your meeting.
- Incidents or crimes in which you or your family have been victimized. If applicable, relevant documentation or reports should be shared at your appointment.
Additional information about helpful documentation can be found in the Immigrant Legal Resource Center’s Immigration Preparedness Toolkit.
Share Concerns and Ask Questions Freely
Prepare a list of questions and concerns you have about your case. This will help you make the most of your attorney’s expertise during your meeting. Do not be afraid to ask follow-up questions about the information being provided and how it impacts you. Ask for clarification if answers do not make sense to you.
Stay Informed and Connected
Immigration laws can change rapidly. Keep yourself updated on any legislative changes that may affect your immigration status or application process. Government websites, reputable news sources, and immigration forums can be valuable sources of information. Once your case is underway, you can check the status of your case via the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services case tracker.
Maintain open lines of communication with your attorney. They should provide you with regular updates on your case’s status, so you are aware of any developments. In addition, they can provide guidance and help you adapt to unexpected situations. Keep a close eye on your email and voicemail. Immigration authorities or your attorney may need to reach you for important updates or documentation requests.
Immigration Cases Are More Successful with Open, Proactive, and Prompt Communication
Timeliness and preparedness can significantly impact your immigration journey. If your attorney or immigration authorities request additional information or documentation, respond promptly. Attend all scheduled appointments, interviews, and hearings punctually. Missing appointments can lead to complications and potential delays. Follow your attorney’s advice and instructions closely. If they recommend certain actions or paperwork, make sure to fulfill these requirements promptly.
By being prepared, staying informed and connected, being prompt and prepared, and maintaining transparency and honesty, you can ensure that your immigration case proceeds smoothly and efficiently. Working together as a team, you can navigate the challenges of immigration and increase your chances of a positive outcome.
About JFCS Pittsburgh Immigration Legal Services
Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS) Pittsburgh offers a range of services and resources to community members in need of legal advice relating to immigration matters. For more information, please call JFCS Senior Services at (412) 422-7200 or visit www.jfcspgh.org/immigration-legal-services.