Getting a green card is often a long and challenging process. In fact, it can take weeks or even months to get approval, and sometimes, your application may take even longer than that. Although the immigration and naturalization processes in the U.S. are inherently tedious, there may also be times when the delays are caused by yourself.
Here are some of the best ways you can avoid delays in your green card application so that you can become a lawful permanent resident of the United States as quickly as possible:
1. Find a good lawyer
Having a good immigration or naturalization lawyer to help you can mean the difference between the approval and denial of your green card. These specialized lawyers can guide you through the process (which is often difficult to understand for the layperson), and help you avoid issues that can cause roadblocks in your application. Furthermore, they can help you complete the necessary paperwork, which, like the rest of the process, can be confusing and plentiful.
2. Do your research
For just about any step in the immigration or naturalization process, doing due diligence is of utmost importance. Even if you have a lawyer or immigration specialist to help you out, it is critical that you yourself are familiar with the ins and outs of the process. While you definitely don’t need to be an expert at it, having basic knowledge of the application requirements and procedures is good enough to help you avoid possible delays or issues.
3. Organize your documents
Before you start the application process, organize both your physical and digital documents into neat, categorized, and labeled folders. Moreover, be sure that all of your paperwork is complete before you apply for a green card. This way, you can readily provide the required documents when the immigration officers ask for them. Otherwise, you may spend an unnecessary amount of time looking or procuring paperwork when it is requested, thereby causing delays in your application.
4. Follow instructions carefully
Sometimes, applicants inadvertently sabotage their own applications by filling in the wrong information, submitting incomplete paperwork, or not following instructions correctly. That said, spend more than enough time reading instructions, filling out paperwork carefully, and triple-checking each document to ensure that it is complete and accurate. If you are unsure about a particular instruction, ask your attorney or an immigration officer for help.
Furthermore, you may receive a Request for Evidence (RFE) in the mail or have your application documents returned for correction. If this happens, be sure to complete what the immigration authorities ask for and send back the requirements within the allowed time frame. If you fail to resend the requirements on time, you may have to start the application process all over again.
5. Keep your communication line open
Once you start the application process, make it a point to keep an open line of communication between you and the immigration authorities. Always make sure that your landline phone is working, or if you give them your mobile number, set it on ‘ring’ so that you can take their call immediately. If you miss their call, you may have to wait a long time until they contact you again, considering that they have a lot more people to call besides you.
Similarly, make it a habit to check your emails regularly. The immigration authorities may send documents to you through your email, and it is imperative that you respond right away.
6. Track your case
It may seem implausible for a government agency to lose your file, but it does happen. To avoid lengthy delays caused by your file being lost in the system, keep track of your case regularly.
It is also recommended to make at least one copy of your entire application before mailing it to the USCIS or other government agency. Don’t send original documents unless it is required. This way, you have a backup in case your file gets lost in the system, preventing you from having to gather all documents for the second time around.
7. Send a notification for change of address
If you have moved since filing an application for a green card, notify the USCIS and other relevant government agencies of your change of address. In doing so, you can help ensure that they will send immigration-related mail to your current address instead of the old one.
Applying for a green card doesn’t have to be as tedious as it usually is. With these tips, you can not only avoid delays in your process, but you can also help decrease the chances of getting an outright denial due to document errors or other possible reasons.