There are plenty of valid reasons to follow immigration law to the letter. Likewise, there are just as many reasons to hire a business immigration attorney to help ensure that your foreign-born workers maintain compliance for as long as they are in the U.S. But by far the number one reason is avoiding the loss of status, which could result in the accrual of unauthorized stay and eventually a 3-year or 10-year bar from the United States.
Criminal and civil court are what most people think of when the U.S. court system is the topic of discussion. If you know anything about American law, you know how different criminal and civil court can be. Guess what? Immigration court is a separate entity altogether. A lot of what happens in immigration court is nothing like criminal and civil court.
While most employment-based foreign nationals will never end up in immigration court, it is interesting to know how it works.
Right to an Attorney
Right off the top, there is no legal right to an attorney in immigration court. The law allows defendants to hire immigration attorneys as they see fit. But there is neither a legal requirement nor access to free representation if a defendant cannot afford an attorney. That’s why, in so many cases, defendants find themselves in court without legal representation.
For the record, very few business immigration cases involving things like H-1B visas end up in court. Most court cases are the result of people entering the country illegally or entering legally but overstaying their welcome. If foreign-born workers follow the law, the chances of ending up in court are slim to none. This is why close coordination with a qualified immigration attorney is so important.
No Discovery, Either
Not only do defendants not have a right to counsel in immigration court, but there is also no discovery process. That is completely foreign to both civil and criminal court, where both sides are required to present evidence that they plan to use at trial. The discovery process gives both prosecution and defense ample time to prepare.
No such deal in immigration court. Defendants can arrive to their hearings without any advance knowledge of the evidence that will be used against them. Imagine being an immigrant with no legal representation and no knowledge of the evidence to be presented in court. How can you possibly defend yourself properly?
Cases Can Drag on For Years
There is one thing immigration court has in common with civil and criminal court: the potential for cases to drag on for years. Our legal system is set up in such a way as to allow all sorts of legal wrangling on both sides, legal wrangling that can tie up a case indefinitely. Unfortunately, immigration court is at a decided disadvantage in terms of resources.
At least in criminal and civil court, judges are required to maintain a fairly reasonable timeline. Not so an immigration court. For example, a recent story published by MetroWest Daily News briefly discussed a simple green card case that took seven years to resolve. Why so long?
Immigration judges are suffering under an extremely heavy case load. So much so that a single motion can lead to a hearing delay of up to two years. All the while, the defendant is left in limbo. There is no way to plan for the future because there is no way to know what the future holds.
In closing, we want to emphasize the fact that the vast majority of business immigration cases never end up in court. But that is because the law is followed to the letter. If you are looking to bring foreign-born workers to the U.S., know that the system is time consuming and complicated. Your best bet is to work with an experienced immigration law from like Graham Adair. We can help you maintain compliance throughout the process.