In addition to being recognizable Hollywood celebrities, Salma Hayek, Michael J. Fox and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger have something else in common. Each one of these household names ran afoul of immigration law early in their careers, either remaining in the United States without a valid visa or violating the terms of their visas. While these superstars all remedied their immigration woes, millions of others in the United States struggle with unresolved immigration issues.
Excitement About Reform May Not Immediately Translate into Real Change
In light of recent legislative advances, help might be on the way due to the Senate’s passing of a sweeping immigration reform bill. While proponents are optimistic about this legislation, it has only been passed by the Senate and there may be an uphill battle ahead in the House of Representatives. Regardless, coverage in major newspapers and television often creates the impression that change is here. The enthusiasm and air of progress is contagious, fueling unbridled optimism among reform supporters.
Preying on the Innocent
Despite the reform effort’s lack of finality, certain unscrupulous individuals are taking advantage of those who desperately seek relief. Frequently, scammers misrepresent new amnesty opportunities, offering to begin paperwork or prepare filings, despite the fact that no change in the law has actually occurred. Unwitting individuals have lost thousands of dollars in the innocent belief that a qualified representative is guiding them on their path to citizenship. In reality, they may be strung along and milked for every penny, without any results to show for their mounting legal expenditures.
Actual Recent Changes
The only recent changes that may actually provide relief apply to a narrow class of individuals. These include those who arrived in the U.S. as children and have continuously resided here since that time. Additionally, certain immediate relatives of U.S. citizens may be eligible to remain in the United States under recently instituted provisions. If you do not fall into one of these categories, be very wary of big promises regarding any recent changes. Demands for legal fees to assist with reform-related services should be met with suspicion.
With all of the media interest and discussion amongst friends and relatives about comprehensive immigration reform, it is important to keep in mind that until legislation is passed into law, no real changes have occurred. If you need clarification on your status or ability to apply for citizenship or foreign resident status, contact the Law Office of Maud Poudat, P.A.