Many people rely on the advice of friends or relatives for their immigration problems, rather than consulting an attorney. Often, a friend’s “advice” is wrong, can mess up a person's immigration situation, and can put a person in an even worse position than if they had done nothing at all. When people in this situation come to me for consultation, I wonder "What law school did your friend go to, that you're following his legal advice?"
Here are some examples of wrong advice by friends that many people followed, only to find themselves in a worse situation:
1. A woman was applying for a visitor's visa, so that she could attend her parents' 50th wedding anniversary in the U.S. She was a teacher in the Philippines. Her husband and children were in the Philippines and were going to stay behind. She had a stable job, property, etc. However, just before she went to the Embassy for an interview, she was told by friends that she should submit a fake tax return, showing that she was making more money than she actually was. Her friends said this would increase her chances of success in obtaining a visitor’s visa. Because this advice came from a friend, she listened, and bought a fake tax return. The Embassy instantly spotted that it was fake, and she was denied the visa. This is because misrepresentations, alone, are grounds to deny a visa. So, no visitor's visa. And, what makes the situation even more sad, is that she may have had a chance of obtaining the visitor's visa, had she simply been truthful, and all of her documents had been true and correct.
2. A person came to the U.S. as a visitor and wanted to work. He was told by friends or relatives to apply for political asylum (claiming he was persecuted in the Philippines) or CSS/LULAC (claiming he had been in the U.S. since 1981, and therefore entitled to an “amnesty” green card). By applying for political asylum or CSS/LULAC, he could get work authorization, and everything would be fine. He was told that he could renew his work authorization each year, and eventually he would be able to get a green card. However, in applying for these types of benefits, he had to lie and submit fake papers. But, the friend further advised the person that, “It's OK, everyone does it, and the CIS will never catch on.” Now, people are finding that their applications are being denied, and they are being placed in deportation or removal proceedings by the DHS. In many cases they were qualified for legitimate immigration benefits, such as temporary working visas (H-1B) for college graduates or green cards through Labor Certification (employer-sponsored green cards for professionals and skilled workers). But, they messed up their case, by listening to the advice of friends, instead of attorneys.
The bottom line is that when you are sick, don't you go to a doctor? When you have a toothache, don't you go to a dentist? Then why, when you have a legal matter, don't you go to an attorney? If your child needed surgery, would you listen to the advice of a friend as to how to perform the surgery, or, would you go to a surgeon?
Therefore, if you have a legal matter, you should seek the advice of a reputable attorney who can possibly help you in solving it. People should know that their immigration status is perhaps the most important thing in their life in America. Not a day goes by that these people don't think about their immigration status and how their whole future in America is up in the air or in jeopardy until they are finally in valid, legal status.
If their friends tell them to commit fraud and submit fake documents, will their friends be there when things go wrong and/or when they get placed in deportation? Or will the friend say, “You need an attorney”?
Michael J. Gurfinkel has been an attorney for over 24 years, and is an active member of the State Bar of California and New York, as well as the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the Immigration Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. He has always excelled in school: Valedictorian in High School; Cum Laude at UCLA; and Law Degree Honors and academic scholar at Loyola Law School, which is one of the top law schools in California.
Four offices to serve you:
LOS ANGELES: 219 North Brand Boulevard, Glendale, California, 91203
Telephone: (818) 543-5800
SAN FRANCISCO: 601 Gateway Boulevard, Suite 460, South San Francisco, CA 94080
Telephone: (650) 827-7888
NEW YORK: 60 East 42nd Street, Suite 2101, New York, NY 10165
Telephone: (212) 808-0300
PHILIPPINES: Heart Tower, Unit 701, 108 Valero Street, Salcedo Village, Makati, Philippines 1227
Telephone: 894-0258 or 894-0239
(This is for informational purposes only, and reflects the firm's opinions and views on general issues. Each case is different and results may depend on the facts of a particular case. All immigration services are provided by an active member of the State Bar of California and/or by a person under the supervision of an active member of the State Bar. No prediction, warranty or guarantee can be made about the results of any case. Should you need or want legal advice, you should consult with and retain counsel of your own choice.)