Immigration Law Presents Five Common Dilemmas


By Atty. Johnson Lazaro 

Jigsaw Puzzle, Maze, or Immigration Law?

Immigration law is so complex that for many it seems like trying to piece together a jigsaw puzzle while attempting to navigate a maze, all at the same time. Even the best immigration lawyers admit trouble while reconnoitering the rules, regulations, procedures, and codes that make up immigration law. For instance, just punching “labor certification” into an internet search engine produces over 746,000 pages dealing with the subject! Let’s examine this misunderstood aspect of immigration law.

What Labor Certification Is Not

Labor Certification is not an approval to stay in the U.S. permanently. It is a process by which a prospective employer ensures the U.S. Department of Labor that the job to be filled by an immigrant is not displacing or depriving a U.S. citizen of employment. Faced with the process, many employers often find American citizens to fill the position, but not always. No green card or work permit is automatically given when the Labor Certification is approved. The immigrant must independently file an Adjustment of Status (A.O.S.) application with the Immigration Service to get approved for Lawful Permanent Residency. Never should an attorney advise, nor a client assume, that Labor Certification is all that is required to stay and work in the U.S.

Foreign Health Care Professionals Face Retrogression

The concept of retrogression is often misunderstood. The U.S. makes only a certain number of immigrant visas (green cards) available each year and those are divided among the various nations and apportioned by profession. Countries such as India, China, and the Philippines have a large number of people in the health care industry seeking to immigrate, especially nurses (EB-3 Professional and Skilled Worker Category) and therefore the visa slots for health care workers from those countries are rapidly used and go into retrogression. Applicants then have to wait in a retrogression line until a visa becomes available, their place in line is determined by their priority date, which is the date they first applied for a green card. The immigrant cannot apply for an adjustment of status until their application date comes up in the visa retrogression line and this can take some time. If they apply before then, they will be denied due to visa unavailability and will have to restart the whole process.

Blabber Mouths Cause Special Problems

An immigrant pulled aside by immigration authorities at the point of entry can become anxious and believe that the more information they disclose to the interrogators the more likely they’ll be seen as acceptable. Nothing could be further from the truth; people who talk too much are more likely to be seen as suspicious rather than the person who simply and politely answers questions. Every attorney should advise, and every immigrant should be aware, that the less said the better. Immigrant clients should answer identification and other questions with as little elaboration as possible.

Right Now Amnesty and Politics Don’t Mix

The promise of amnesty for immigrants isn’t playing well with the American public right now. President Bush tried to push immigration reform during his term and President Obama, though he promised it during the election, is putting immigration reform on hold for now. Attorneys and paralegals who advise undocumented immigrants that amnesty is just around the corner are doing those folks a grave disservice. Thinking that they’ll soon be granted benefits and the chance to stay, they can get careless and get caught in the wide net of Homeland Security. They will be removed without any amnesty and no chance of future immigration.

Fight Back If Accused of Fraud

No accusation of misrepresentation or fraud should go unchallenged. Counselors should analyze whether or not the fraud could be construed as absolutely willful and committed as part of some scheme. Was it really intended? Was it an oversight? Basically, folks are honest. Sometimes they make silly mistakes, especially in high-tension immigration proceedings. Sometimes ignorance rules – a person can’t be expected to know each little quirk of procedure that could cause them problems. Attorneys and their clients should be diligent about considering challenges when fraud or misrepresentation is charged. Many attorneys and their clients feel that’s the end of the road. It is not.

Knowledge Certainly Helps

If immigration attorneys, paralegals, and immigrant clients themselves can wrap their thoughts and reasoning around these five basics of immigration law, the whole immigration process should proceed apace for themselves as well as for the USCIS. Believe it or not, the immigration authorities do appreciate that.

Johnson Lazaro has been practicing law for 25 years. This article does not form an attorney-client relationship. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. For questions please call 866-237-9555 or Email: