Don’t say, write or fill out any paperwork indicating you are a United States citizen if you are not. It could jeopardize your ability to gain legal status in the United States. A “false claim to citizenship” can hurt your opportunities permanently. It can also keep you from becoming a US citizen, even if you are already a legal permanent resident.
Avoid using false social security numbers, driver’s licenses, or identifications, as well as documents belonging to relatives and friends. This can be identity theft, a serious crime, and can end in deportation. Be really careful and don’t apply for credit with fake documents, that is setting yourself up for serious problems. This is an especially hard topic for immigrants, because you want to work. Minimizing the fraud in your life, will make it easier in the long run.
Once you have a “green card” or legal permanent resident card, you are already legal in the United States. You should apply for United States citizenship as soon as you qualify to do it. This protects you from the risk of deportation and being separated from your family. If you commit certain crimes, you are subject to getting deported from the United States until you become a US citizen. Immigration will not tell you about this, it’s up to you to get educated about this topic. You have to be careful to keep your legal status and learn what crimes can get you into trouble with immigration. If you have minor children who can become citizens, make sure they do it right away. It is sad to see how many young adults end up getting deported for committing serious crimes. Tell your children they are guests in this country, and until they are citizens, they can get kicked out by immigration.
Find out what the different public benefits programs are available in this country. Do not falsify information in order to obtain government benefits because that can be a crime called fraud. Find out what programs your US citizen children are eligible for, and never lie about your status or income in order to get benefits. Keep in mind there are public benefit programs that your United States citizen children may qualify for, even if you are undocumented. Check out our recent video on the new Public Charge laws that have changed as of February 2020.
If you are undocumented, request a taxpayer identification number from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and file yearly income tax returns. That is what the “IRS” number is for. Make sure all the information you list is correct, and don’t claim unqualified dependents. Immigration Judges all over the country look more and more at tax filings. Filing your tax forms in the correct way shows you are a person of good moral character, something immigration always looks at. You should not list dependents that you don’t support. Tax returns also prove how long you have been present in the US. Be sure to keep copies of your W-2 forms and income tax returns. You will need them in the future to show you were employed. If you have questions about your taxes, see a lawyer or tax expert. Don’t follow the advice of notaries or tax preparers who tell you to list more dependents so you don’t have to pay taxes. As Americans, we all pay and, that money benefits everyone, including you and your family.
Keep all of your personal documents in a safe place and make sure they are available to your family. This includes marriage certificates, birth certificates, passports, IRS returns, W-2 forms, arrest records, pay stubs, your children’s school records, and medical records. When applying for legal status, you may need these documents. If you are arrested, your lawyer will need these to help you in court.
Only a qualified attorney has the knowledge and expertise to give you legal advice. Your friends and family are not your attorney. Don’t rely on their advice to make important decisions in your life. Opting to take advice from non-attorneys could hurt your chances of obtaining legal status. Not every case is the same, and you need to sit down and talk about your case with an attorney. Although some notaries can file simple applications with immigration, they cannot tell you if you qualify to get legal. For that you need to see an attorney.
Do not commit crimes in the United States. Until you become a citizen, criminal convictions can cause your deportation, and you will lose your permanent resident status. If your undocumented and you commit a crime, that is the surest way to get caught by immigration. If the police stop you, treat them with respect and politeness, but also know your rights. Don’t plead guilty to any crime until you have talked to an immigration attorney. If you are here with a permanent resident card, undocumented or, with a temporary status, you are subject to getting kicked out of the country for many crimes. Several of our YouTube videos is about what kinds of violations of the law can hurt you.
If you are stopped by the police and issued a ticket to pay or appear in court, do not ignore it. Tickets turn into arrest warrants if you don’t take care of them. The majority of immigrants are deported after they are arrested for outstanding arrest warrants. Immigration also looks for immigrants to deport in jail. Any time you are in jail you risk your stay in the United States, and you lose the advantages you have in this country. Respecting the laws of this country shows you value your opportunities here. Do not take it for granted that you will always be here.
Don’t assume you know the answer to your questions by relying on advice from friends and family. Get reliable information from a good legal representative. Wrong assumptions can cost you time, energy, money, and in some situations, valuable opportunities. If you hear about a new immigration law see an immigration attorney. Don’t fill out papers for immigration without good legal advice, and don’t lie on any forms. Your case may appear simple, but there is no way to know if you qualify for a lawyer if you don’t get legal advice.
REMEMBER: Your case with immigration is probably the most important thing in your life. You may only have one chance in your whole life to get legal. Spend your resources on that and make it your top priority. Invest the time and money to do it right.