Individuals might find that they need legal assistance when applying for immigrant, non-immigrant, family, student, or tourist visas. Getting a green card can require a lengthy legal process. Given that laws related to immigration are always subject to reform, you might need to find an attorney that can lead you through this process successfully. Knowing the following terms should help you communicate with your attorney.
Alien resident – someone allowed to live in a country for a pre-determined period of time, after which the person must either leave the country or receive an extension. Depending on the specific type of visa, alien residents might not have the right to hold jobs.
Immigration reform – an area of the law that has gained significant political attention in recent years. Some argue that immigration laws are not strict enough, and therefore need reform. Others argue that the laws put undue pressure on individuals and businesses, and therefore should be reformed. Regardless of which side a person stands on, he or she almost certainly wants to see change.
Green card – a document that identifies someone as an immigrant allowed work within the United States.
Passport – a document that provides personal information about a traveler. It does not guarantee that the traveler can enter a country. Without one, however, immigrants cannot cross borders. Doing so could be considered a criminal act.
Pro bono – legal services performed for free. A lawyer might accept immigration, criminal, or civil suites for a variety of reasons. Many law firms require attorneys to perform a certain number of pro bono hours each year.
Immigration law attorneys work within the often tangled web that is American immigration, complicated by movements for reform. While some immigrants may go through the entire process of becoming a permanent resident and then a citizen without needing legal help, others may have difficulties.
These attorneys focus on helping individuals who are having difficulty with immigration law. In some cases, they may be criminals facing deportation. Others may be illegal immigrants. Lawyers may also represent asylum seekers and other refugees, often on a pro bono basis.
Non-citizens who are convicted of criminal offenses are often deported after serving their prison sentences. A lawyer skilled in immigration law can help avoid a situation where a defendant is advised to plead guilty without being aware of the consequences. They may, thus, assist in the defense of criminal cases, although they are generally not trial lawyers in the true sense.
Although some of what they do is help people through the immigration process and assist them in obtaining a green card, or citizenship and a passport, there are other areas. Firms may work with businesses that are bringing individuals over on an employment visa. They may assist in handling complicated regulations such as the need to perform a search for American candidates. At a more personal level, they may help couples avoid being accused of immigration fraud, as marriages to obtain green cards are not uncommon. They may give advice on how to behave during immigration interviews, for example.
In some cases, lawyers may become involved in crucial and controversial issues surrounding immigration reform. The issue of illegal aliens is a tricky one, and immigration lawyers may also be called upon in situations where, for example, the parents of a child who is a citizen face deportation.