By Atty. James G. Beirne

Some may believe that they will arrive in the United States and be welcomed with open arms. Unfortunately this is not the case. Whether you are visiting temporarily or coming to make the U.S. your permanent residence, you will need to be mindful of the immigration process with its many rules and requirements. The process can be complicated, and it is always best to consult with an immigration attorney to ensure that everything goes smoothly.

Patience is a Necessity

In case you haven’t discovered this already, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services are backlogged. If you are seeking a renewal on a work permit or application for a visa for instance, submit your paperwork far in advance. This is particularly critical if you are up against a deadline date. If a date expires on a visa for example, you may be subject to arrest by immigration authorities or deportation.

Do your Homework

While it is always advisable to be well informed, be careful of obtaining immigration advice from unreliable sources. While there are many creditable information sources available, there are just as many incorrect ones. Be wary of non-attorney consultants and anyone that promises you success that is not qualified to help you. There is a lot at stake here, so it is advisable to seek the guidance of a qualified immigration attorney who knows the process inside and out.

Be Careful of Summary Removal

When you or a loved one arrives in the U.S., it is important to be prepared. You may have to have a persuasive talk with a border official. These officials are trained to look for inaccuracies, and also will be on the watch for anything that looks like a security threat. If you are a tourist for instance, packing items that look like you are planning to stay would send up a red flag (a wedding dress, or tools of your trade for instance).

Apply for Citizenship

If you obtain a green card, it’s a good idea to apply for citizenship as soon as you are eligible. The wait for citizenship is usually 5 years, so you may apply 3 months early.

Don’t be Afraid to File Multiple Petitions

If you have several family members in the U.S., have them each submit a visa petition for you. A brother, sister, parent and citizen spouse can all submit a petition on your behalf. That way if one or more gets held up, another may go through and shorten your wait time.

Be Mindful of Address Changes

It is important that the USCIS be notified of any address changes within 10 days. Each family member must to this individually. You can either send in Form AR-11 or do it online.

Attend all Meetings and Don’t be Late

Needless to say, failure to attend a meeting with USCIS can result in lengthy delays and even deportation. Take all meetings seriously, and arrive on time.

Track all Documentation

Any correspondence or paperwork should be send to the USCIS certified, return receipt requested. Always keep a copy of everything you send as well. If the USCIS loses your paperwork, and it does happen, you will always have a back up copy to refer to.

Be Aware of Visa Violations

Take note all potential visa violations, no matter how minor they seem. Violations of a work permit, visa or green card can result in cancellation of your documentation and potential deportation.

Get a Lawyer

There are many different ways that someone can legally enter the United States. An experienced immigration lawyer will be able to assess your unique situation and recommend what course of action is best for you. Once the process is underway, your lawyer will be invaluable in helping you navigate what can be a complicated process. Your decision to stay in the United States is an important one, and it needs to be handled correctly. The Law Offices of James G. Beirne understands this and is committed to give you the best possible experience. We have three offices to serve you: Glendale (818) 552-4500, Cerritos (562) 865-4480 and West Covina (626) 262-4446.


An active member of the State Bar of California and the State Bar of Nevada, James G. Beirne is also a member of the highly respected American Immigration Lawyers Association and Los Angeles County Bar Association Immigration Section. He is admitted to practice before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, all federal district courts in California and Nevada, California state courts, and Nevada state courts. Mr. Beirne has represented clients in numerous immigration cases. His offices are located at 520 E. Wilson Ave., Suite 110, Glendale, CA 91206, and 17215 Studebaker Rd., Suite 380, Cerritos, CA 90703, with telephone numbers (818) 552-4500; (562) 865-4480; and (866) 903-4522. He also has offices at 2640 E. Garvey Ave., Suite 104, West Covina 91791, with tel. no. (626) 262-4446. His newest office is at Valencia Executive Plaza, Suite 200-E, 27201 Tourney Road, Valencia, CA 91355, tel. no. (661) 200-0644.

(Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. Results may vary depending on the facts of a particular case. We make no prediction, warranty or guarantee about the results of any case, nor do we assume any legal liability for the completeness of any information and its impact on the results of any case. Each case is different and results depend on the facts of each case. Consult with and retain counsel of your own choice if you need legal advice.)