Immigration resolutions for 2015

This week in my column Consulta Migratoria® I offer some immigration resolutions for 2015.

This is the column:

Every year-end we talk about making resolutions - like losing weight, spending more time with our families, looking for a better job or buying a house. We make these promises to ourselves with the intention of improving our lives in the new year. But every immigrant should think about something much more important in order to achieve all of these goals in the United States - making an immigration resolution.

Therefore, I propose the following immigration resolutions for 2015:

Become a U.S. citizen. If you are eligible, do it right away. There are more than 8 million permanent residents who could apply for U.S. citizenship. If you are a citizen, you will have more advantages and rights, such as being able to vote and get better jobs. Also, you cannot be deported from the country unless you committed fraud to get your U.S. citizenship. Also, you will be able to travel outside the U.S. without time limitations. Being a citizen allows you to process petitions for immediate relatives more quickly.

2. Help your family members emigrate to the United States. As a U.S. citizen, you may immigrate your parents, spouses, children, and unmarried or married siblings. If your children and siblings are married, their spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may also immigrate with the relative you are petitioning for.

If you are a U.S. permanent resident you can only petition for your spouse and unmarried children of any age. Apply for your family members as soon as possible because many of these petitions take years to complete.

Apply for permanent residency as soon as possible if you are eligible. There are several ways to obtain permanent residency in the U.S., including family and work petitions, special programs such as NACARA and the U visa. Permanent residency opens the way to citizenship and to petition for certain family members.

4. Don't lie on immigration applications. I always emphasize the importance of not lying on immigration forms, as this is grounds for denying you the benefits you are applying for. If you get an immigration status through fraud and the federal government finds out, they can revoke your residency, citizenship or other benefits and put you in deportation proceedings.

5. Do your taxes. This is an excellent way to prove that you are in the U.S. and demonstrate that you are of good moral character. If the federal government finds out that you did not comply with your obligation to file your taxes when you should have, they can force you to pay the taxes you owe plus interest and penalties.

6. Keep a legal fund to pay for immigration procedures. Thanks to President Obama's executive action, in a few months, approximately 4 million people will be able to apply for temporary immigration protection under the Deferred Action for Parents (DAPA) program. The government will charge a processing fee and there will be other costs that you will have to pay to enroll in DAPA. It is not yet known what the fees will be, but you will need money to cover the cost of the paperwork when the time comes.

For those who were not included in the DAPA program, I am optimistic that in the future there will be an immigration reform that will help them.

Hopefully it will never happen to you, but if you are arrested by immigration authorities, you will have to pay the costs of good legal representation, unless you are able to defend yourself or get free or low-cost help from a licensed legal representative.

 7. Keep your immigration records and evidence that you have lived in the U.S.Many immigration benefits, including DAPA, require you to prove that you have been living in the U.S. for a certain amount of time.

Also, it is important to know the immigration procedures you have done in the past in order to better prepare for future immigration procedures. Therefore, keep your records because you will need them when you do your immigration paperwork.

8. Maintain the best moral conduct. Getting in trouble with the law can hurt your immigration proceedings. For example, permanent residents who commit certain crimes can be deported. Also, people in the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program will lose their immigration status if they are found guilty of two misdemeanors or one felony.

9. Do not visit notaries public, immigration consultants, paper fillers or multi-service providers to obtain immigration legal advice. U.S. law prohibits such persons from giving legal advice. Only licensed attorneys or federally accredited representatives are authorized to give legal advice.

Thank you for reading my column and for all the questions you sent me during 2014. I will continue to keep you informed in 2015.

I wish you a happy and prosperous New Year!

For more information and immigration tips, read my blog

Send your questions to Include detailed information about your situation to better answer your questions.

Nelson A. Castillo, Esq. is an immigration attorney and author of La Tarjeta Verde: Cómo Obtener la Residencia Permanente en los Estados Unidos (Green Card: How to Obtain Permanent Residence in the United States). He is a past President of the Hispanic National Bar Association and current President of the Los Angeles Westlake South Neighborhood Council. To contact Mr. Castillo's office, please call (213) 537-VISA (8472).

The purpose of this column is to provide general information. No guarantees or predictions can be made as to what the outcome of the information presented by Dr. Nelson A. Castillo will be. The information should not be taken as legal advice for any individual, case or situation. Consult with an immigration attorney for personalized legal advice before beginning any immigration proceeding..