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Friday, June 18, 2004

DallasNews.com | Consejos Advice for how to immigrate to America

DallasNews.com | News for Dallas, Texas | Consejos

Immigration's a long process, but worth all the struggle

01:42 PM CDT on Friday, June 18, 2004


By LILIANA GUNDLACH, CATHERINE JAGERS and DANIEL RAMIREZ



Question: My husband has employed a Mexican boy for three years now, and I was told we could sponsor him so he can be legal and travel back and forth to Mexico. Can you tell me how I can get him legal here? He is like a member of our family and he is only 18, and he has no idea how to do this.

Danny: Many people mistakenly believe that being a petitioner (sponsor) or beneficiary is a simple process to gaining residence in the United States. The paperwork and waiting time can stretch into years and is only multiplied when dealing with candidates from Mexico because of the large number of applicants and the limits on approvals per year.

The young man is not a blood relative, so "like family" has no legal value in convincing the U.S. government that the beneficiary is eligible under this subcategory of green-card immigrant visas.

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He must then determine whether another type of immigrant or nonimmigrant visa is a better fit. And since he is already in the United States, he must be in compliance with U.S. immigration laws (work permit or nonimmigrant visa) in order to apply for adjustment of status to permanent residence, without leaving.

As an employer, your husband might qualify as a sponsor, but this is also subcategorized with stringent requirements. Either way, the young man will have to start the application process at the embassy or consulate in his own country.

I open this up to our readers to provide additional help, but in the meantime, please consider using these online resources and phone number for more detailed information: www.visafaq.com, www.USCIS.gov and (toll-free) 1-800-375-5283.

Catherine: Looks like we have a lawyer on our hands. Danny spoke clearly about specific legal questions, and the resources he recommended are invaluable.

I would like to commend your desire to seek advice. It speaks well for you and your husband and sets a wonderful example for this young man. Countless people are cutting legal corners and illegally becoming a part of this country and economy. I have seen these dishonest efforts result in loss of jobs, more intense legal trouble and, eventually, deportation.

It is a long road, especially because applying for legal status does not guarantee it will actually happen. I want to encourage you to follow Danny's leads and continue to seek legal advice. You are showing this young man incredible love, as well as serving as an example of honesty and perseverance.

Lily: I have had many family members become citizens, and they can tell you that it's well worth the wait and all the work.

While he is waiting for the process to take its course, encourage him to take some time and research what new rights and responsibilities he will have if he decides to become a citizen. Many people are unaware of all the benefits available. As a citizen, you can also help him learn about our civil duties, such as voting and jury duty. This will help mold him into an active member of society.

You didn't say whether he had family in Mexico. But if he does, you might offer him emotional support by encouraging him to send pictures and care packages home so he can "be there" without "being there."

Many local churches offer support to immigrants in this country. Encourage him to find a parish he feels comfortable with. This might even allow him to form a bond with people who can share their personal experiences with him.

You always hear about people complaining about the immigration issue. It is refreshing to read about someone who is getting involved with the immigration process. I wish you and this young man good luck!

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