Laws and regulations related to US immigration are complex, tricky, fluid and oftentimes unforgiving. As illustrated by the Frequently Asked Questions published by the USCIS this week on filing applications related to the July Visa Bulletin debacle, a minor error such as including the incorrect fee amount, could lead to being unable to refile for a very long time.
The consequences of mistakes, omissions or poor strategy can be severe. For example, obtaining permanent residence (green card) through employment is generally a three-step process: (1) Labor Certification (PERM), (2) I-140 – Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; and finally (3) I-485 – Application to Adjust Status to Permanent Resident.
If proper strategy is not implemented from the get-go, a foreign national could spend years, lose thousands of dollars, and risk falling out of status. Among other issues that need to be considered in such a case are:: (A) the alien’s documented qualifications for the minimum requirements of the position, (B) the employer’s willingness and ability to pay the prevailing wage, advertising costs and certain legal fees, and (C) the alien’s eligibility to adjust status. Failing to consider any of these factors, among others, could lead to denial of the process at any of these stages.
The funny thing about US immigration laws is that the process seems deceptively simple. The forms are straightforward, so how hard can it be? The reality is: the instructions and fees stated on the forms’ are sometimes incorrect; a call to the USCIS toll-free number will get you very little (sometimes inaccurate) information; new policies, regulations, updates and memos are released by various agencies at break-neck speed; forms are revised; filing fees increase; and filing locations constantly change.