Applying for a U.S. green card or lawful permanent resident status is an involved process that often requires a great deal of patience. Between gathering extensive documentation, completing forms, waiting for biometrics appointments and interviews, and allowing time for application processing, many green card applicants find themselves feeling frustrated by the lengthy timeline.

One common question that arises is whether hiring an immigration lawyer can help accelerate this often slow process. While an attorney cannot simply bypass all the standard procedures and requirements, legal representation can provide some important advantages for speeding things along the green card path. Here are some of the key ways an experienced immigration lawyer may be able to expedite your green card case.

Preparing An Airtight Initial Filing

One of the biggest factors causing delays in permanent residency cases is having to respond to requests for additional evidence from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after an initial application is filed. Whether it’s additional documentation, clarification on certain responses, fixing mistakes, or addressing other deficiencies – having to deal with these requests can set a case back significantly.

Immigration lawyers know exactly which forms need to be filled out, what evidence needs to be compiled, and what legal standards must be met from the very start. Their expertise allows them to submit an absolutely complete and compliant initial filing upfront. This greatly reduces the risk of prolonged back-and-forth between the applicant and USCIS, which could otherwise lead to extensive processing times.

Identifying Potential Red Flags Early

Along those same lines, experienced immigration attorneys can pinpoint potential disqualifying factors or “red flags” on a green card application at the outset, rather than allowing an issue to hang up a case further down the line. For example, a criminal record, prior immigration violations, missing vaccinations, admissibility concerns, and many other items are carefully vetted beforehand.

Their understanding of the technical eligibility requirements allows attorneys to resolve problems proactively and quickly, whereas missed issues could lead to extensive processing delays and even denials that would force starting over from square one. Getting ahead of pitfalls keeps cases on the quickest path.

Requesting Expedited Processing

While there are limited circumstances that officially allow a person to request expedited processing of their green card application, immigration lawyers understand precisely when those criteria are met, how to properly submit an expedite request, and what type of evidence needs to be included.

Factors that could qualify for expedited processing include severe financial loss to a company, extreme emergencies like imminent risk to health/safety, nonprofit efforts serving the national interest, military deployments, or age-out issues for minor children. Attorneys leverage their knowledge of USCIS policies to identify which scenarios merit an expedite request, maximizing the applicant’s chances of having their case prioritized.

Knowledgeable Communication & Follow-Up

Immigration cases often face administrative processing delays due to misunderstandings, conflicting interpretations, lost information, unreturned calls or messages, and similar communication issues between applicants and USCIS. Not understanding the proper procedure for following up or escalating an inquiry can exacerbate these problems and keep a case at a standstill.

Immigration attorneys understand how the system works and maintain open professional communication channels with USCIS and other agencies to get issues resolved quickly. Their expertise allows them to succinctly explain legal arguments, request case updates, untangle red tape, and assertively advocate for adjudication in a timely manner. These types of diligent follow-ups from a knowledgeable legal representative can absolutely accelerate slower cases.

Attending Interviews & Meeting Deadlines

In the later stages of the green card process, applicants may face challenging interviews about employment history, immigration background, relationships, eligibility, and much more. Failure to adequately prepare or navigate these interviews could lead to postponements and processing setbacks.

Additionally, if any requests for evidence come with strict deadlines that are missed, could potentially result in case termination or having to start over. Immigration lawyers ensure their clients are fully prepared for any interviews, helping assemble documents and evidence, formulating responses to difficult questions, practicing for the interview experience, and diligently tracking all deadlines. This oversight prevents unnecessary roadblocks from arising due to client mistakes.

Pursuing Waivers & Appeals

In many scenarios where a green card case faces certain denials or complications due to issues like criminal records, prior immigration violations, missing requirements, admissibility concerns, or other legally complex circumstances, all may not be lost. Immigration attorneys understand options for negotiating and applying for legal waivers that could overcome these problems.

There are also scenarios where a denial may be appealed through formal appellate channels, which requires compiling extensive documentation, submitting briefs, and preparing oral arguments. The procedures for pursuing waivers and appeals are highly specialized, yet can help salvage cases that may otherwise remain stalled for good. This avenue provides a path forward whereas non-legal representation may result in a dead end.

At the end of the day, no immigration attorney can simply snap their fingers and bypass the official green card process or put a client ahead of others in the queue. These cases must still undergo scrutinous review by USCIS officers. However, legal representation provides invaluable expertise that allows many permanent residency cases to be handled properly, efficiently, and preemptively to avoid unnecessary delays. In that sense, skilled immigration lawyers are able to leverage their legal acumen to facilitate quicker adjudication timelines in many instances.

Sources:
https://www.raylawinternational.com/blog/2023/september/can-a-lawyer-speed-up-the-green-card-process-/#:~:text=Immigration%20attorneys%20can%20help%20you,type%20of%20visa%20or%20status.
https://hackinglawpractice.com/how-an-immigration-lawyer-can-help-speed-up-your-immigration-process/

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