Immigration tips

Tag • Immigration Law Blog

Selecting an Immigration Attorney

When you are going through the process of becoming an American citizen, there are many legal quandaries you might find yourself facing. Make these issues easier to tackle by working with an experienced immigration attorney. But you might feel overwhelmed when choosing an attorney amid the seemingly endless lists of individual and firm names your searches turn up. How can you know which attorney has the resources and the expertise to effectively help you with your case?

Use the following guidelines to direct your lawyer search. Finding the right attorney to handle your case can be difficult, but it is well worth the time and energy you put into it. Choosing an inexperienced or inadequate attorney can cost you money, time, and put you into a difficult legal position.

Read Reviews of Lawyers

In this day and age, it is easy to find reviews of lawyers and other professionals on the internet. Search Google Reviews, Avvo.com, and any other review website you can find that has information about a prospective attorney from clients who have worked with him or her in the past. You can find out approximately what his or her services cost and how well previous clients felt he or she handled their cases. Do not believe everything you read online, but do take these reviews into consideration when you interview prospective attorneys.

Choose an Attorney who is Responsive

You want to work with a lawyer who cares as much about your case as you do. Lawyers show their dedication to their clients by responding to their phone calls and emails in a timely manner. If you do not receive a response from an attorney or his or her office within 24 hours or so of inquiring, this could indicate that he or she will not be responsive about your case later.

Talk About Money

Although you might have been told that it is rude to discuss money, you need to discuss it with an attorney you are considering hiring. Ask your attorney for an approximate quote for your case before you begin to work with him or her. He or she might not be able to give you an exact price, especially if he or she bills by the hour, but your attorney should be willing to come up with a quote and talk to you about how he or she reached that figure. Be wary of attorneys who are not willing to discuss how they come up with prices or attempt to brush off any questions about money you ask – you could find yourself facing a much steeper bill than you initially imagined.

Work with an Immigration Attorney

To work with an immigration attorney who has the knowledge and experience to help you, contact The Law Offices of Joshua L. Goldstein, P.C. to set up your legal consultation today. Attorney Josh Goldstein has significant experience working with immigrants on America’s East and West coasts, and everywhere between, and can help you through the legal issue you are facing. Do not wait to make the call – contact The Law Offices of Joshua L. Goldstein, P.C. today.

Credit Building Tips for Los Angeles Residents

Whether you are a recent immigrant to the United States or you have been here for a long time, you can take steps to build positive credit. Having a high credit score will help you with your financial decisions in the future, whether you need to take out a loan to go to college or apply for a mortgage to purchase a home.

Many individuals, both immigrants and native-born Americans alike, do not know how to build their credit. If you are not sure where to start with building your credit, apply the following tips to your everyday life.

Consider a Secured Credit Card

If you do not have sufficient credit to qualify for an unsecured credit card, apply for a secured credit card. A secured credit card is a credit card that an applicant can obtain by putting down a sum of money as collateral with the lender. That sum of money then becomes his or her credit limit. For example, you can apply for a secured credit card with a $500 credit limit with the bank by giving the bank $500 in cash to use as collateral. Because of this collateral, anybody can open a secured credit card and begin building positive credit.

Pay your Bills on Time

Your rent, your utility bills, your credit card bills, and any other bills you have need to be paid on or before their due dates. This is key to building and maintaining positive credit. With credit card bills, it is possible to pay less than what is due, known as the “minimum payment.” This amount is printed on your credit card bill, but do not let yourself get into the habit of only paying the minimum payment each month – allowing your debt to accrue will actually cost you more money in the long run because you will need to pay interest on the balance you carry on your credit card.

Pay your Bills in Full

This goes with the issue above – not only should your credit card bills be paid on time, they should be paid in full. Alongside the issue of having to pay interest on debt accrued, you can also lose track of how much you owe to your lender and reach the point of “maxing out” your credit card.

Become an Authorized User on Another Person’s Card

If possible, you can also build your own credit score by becoming an authorized user on somebody else’s card. This other party could be your spouse or another relative, such as a parent or a sibling. Establish an agreement with this other party beforehand. As an authorized user of their credit card, you are not legally obligated to pay for the charges you make – they are. Discuss how you will reimburse him or her before you become an authorized user.

Work with a Los Angeles Immigration Attorney

Having a strong credit score can help you immensely when you need to take big steps with your finances. For guidance with the legal issues that can accompany these steps or other types of help during the immigration process, contact immigration attorney Joshua L. Goldstein at The Law Offices of Joshua L.Goldstein, P.C. today to set up your legal consultation.

Using FOIA to your Advantage

In the United States, you have the right to request important information from the federal government under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). As an individual working through the process of becoming an American citizen, you could be required to use this right at some point, especially if you run into legal issues when applying for a work visa or green card. This is because it is possible that there is background information about you in your immigration record that somehow complicates matters like this. Find out what information is available to the federal government by filing a FOIA request with the aid of an experienced Los Angeles immigration attorney. If the United States federal government has information about you that it can potentially use against you, you have a right to know about it.

How to Seek Information Under FOIA

Your immigration file contains information that can be of significant value to you. However, you can also potentially run into issues with obtaining this information if you came to the country before 1982 or if the information in your record has been redacted, or blacked out, because it contains the names of government officials or individuals other than yourself.

Before you start working with an attorney or contacting government agencies, determine which information you need. This will determine the agency with which you file your request and how you file it.

Once you determine the information you need, or if you determine that you need to see your entire immigration file, you or your attorney will make a formal request to the correct agency. This might be the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), or the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Along with your request, you will need to provide your reason for seeking the information. Your attorney can help you craft this statement and, if necessary, request that the officials handling the request expedite it if you are in a situation where your life, health, or safety is at risk.

Generally, a FOIA request takes five to six weeks to complete, sometimes up to 80 days. When you request that your case be expedited, you can expect to receive your file within 20 days to one month. If you are in need of more immediate information, your attorney can provide a detailed statement of how your life, health, safety, or liberty is at risk to have the request handled in an even quicker manner.

Work with a Los Angeles Immigration Attorney

If you need to file a FOIA request, work with an experienced immigration attorney who can guide you through the steps you need to take and help you understand the information you receive as a result of your request. To start working with immigration attorney Joshua L. Goldstein, schedule your legal consultation with The Law Offices of Joshua L. Goldstein, P.C., today.

Five Resume Tips for U.S. Immigrants

One of the first things you will probably do once you are in the United States is look for work. The job search process differs from country to country and once you begin your search in the United States, you might find that you are not receiving calls back or job offers. This could be because your resume does not fit with the standard American resume template or because it contains grammatical, syntax, or spelling errors. For guidance with the job search process as well as with any legal issues you face, work with an experienced Los Angeles immigration attorney.

Proofread

Having a native English speaker proofread your resume is an important step in writing a resume that will help you get the job you seek. Minor grammatical errors can reflect negatively on you and hurt your chance of being hired.

Research American Resume Templates

These can be found on the internet for free. It is important that you write your resume using a template that is appropriate for the type of job you are seeking and that you follow standard American conventions in it. For example, resumes in the United States do not include photographs or personal information like the applicant’s religion or marital status. In fact, it is actually illegal for your employer to ask you to provide this information.

Be Direct

Your resume should be straightforward and list your education, previous positions held, experience, and skills. This is all. It should not exceed one page for junior employees or two pages for senior employees. Employers only look at resumes briefly, so yours should communicate your skillset in a concise manner.

Provide Contact Information

Include your phone number and email address at the top of your resume along with your name. It is important that this information is easy to quickly locate for your employer – again, employers do not spend much time reading their applicants’ resumes, so you want to write yours in a way that it is extremely easy for an employer to determine if he or she wants to contact you, then shows him or her how to do so.

Be Honest

It might be tempting to exaggerate your accomplishments, but do not do this. Be honest about your skills and accomplishments in your resume. During an interview, you will be asked about the information included in your resume – if you cannot answer a question because it is based on inaccurate information, you will likely not be hired.

Work with an Experienced Los Angeles Immigration Attorney

When you are working through the legal aspects of living and working in the United States, such as ensuring that you can work in this country, seek help from an experienced immigration attorney. At The Law Offices of Joshua L. Goldstein, P.C., we are dedicated to working with recent immigrants to smooth out the naturalization process and resolve any issues they face. Contact our firm today to set up your initial legal consultation.

Tips on Naturalization / Citizenship from Boston AILA Conference

In Boston, Massachusetts, I recently spoke at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Conference on Immigration Law.  The topic was citizenship and naturalization.

Several immigration lawyers from Massachusetts have sent me follow up questions. In response, here are a few tips that will help you successfully handle an application for naturalization, N-400.

Research your client’s criminal history before submitting the N-400 application for naturalization by requesting an FBI rap sheet or Interstate Identification Index (“III”) and a Massachusetts CORI.  The FBI III is based on fingerprints.  My office fingerprints immigration clients in-house using this kit.  The Massachusetts CORI is based on name and date of birth, which is why it is essential to list on the form every possible spelling of your client’s name, as well as aliases. Keep in mind that these records are notoriously inaccurate.  The final step is to track down criminal dispositions for all court appearances.  Remember: your job as an immigration lawyer isn’t done until you have closely reviewed court-certified final criminal dispositions showing all docket sheets for each court appearance.

Selective Service and Citizenship.  For male naturalization applicants, failure to register for Selective Service for permanent residents between the age of 19 and 26 bars a finding of good moral character during the requisite three or five year period but only if the applicant knowingly or willfully failed to register.  In my experience as an immigration lawyer, many clients mistakenly believe that they forgot to register for Selective Service when, in fact, they actually did.  If your client says that he never registered with Selective Service, you should double check to make sure he’s right.  You can use the Selective Service Online Registration Verification available here. If your client’s Selective Service information is not found, this does not necessarily mean that he failed to register. You should then call the agency at 888-655-1825 to see if his registration is in the system. And, finally, to prepare for the naturalization interview, you should request a status of information letter from Selective Service.

Fill out the N-400 with meticulous attention to detail to avoid “false testimony.”  Even the smallest mistake on the N-400 form could be used as an excuse to deny your immigration client’s N-400.  As a matter of good moral character, an applicant for citizenship can be denied if, during the requisite period of time, he or she knowingly provides false or misleading information to an immigration officer for the purposes of obtaining an immigration benefit.  Using this legal standard, USCIS could construe inaccurate information on the naturalization application as a deliberate lie and, therefore, a ground for denial. This comes into play particularly when disclosing adverse information such as criminal appearances.

Good Moral Character: how to determine whether your client has met the standard.  To obtain US citizenship through the naturalization process, you ordinarily must show good moral character for 5 years or for 3 years if your claim is based on marriage to a US citizen.  If your client has a criminal conviction, it may be necessary to wait to file the N-400 until the date the offense was committed is outside the 3- or 5-year period.

Good luck.  If you need help from a Boston immigration lawyer who enjoys complex citizenship cases, call me at (617) 722-0005 or contact me anytime.