One of the primary problems a lawyer faces when trying to help an immigration client is when the client tells you—“I do not have any of the papers they gave me in Court,” or “I know my brother petitioned me twenty years ago, but we do not have any paperwork.” More than any other type of record, immigration documentation could mean the difference between success and failure in your immigration case. It does not matter if you move or have a fire—you need to keep all of your vital documents and your immigration records.
Here are the types of documents you should make sure you keep:
- Your Birth Certificate
- Marriage Certificates for all marriages
- Divorce Decrees or Spouse’s Death Certificates for previous marriages
- Children’s Birth Certificates
- Naturalization Certificates or Green Cards
- Passports, including expired Passports
- Any document you used to enter the United States, including I-94 cards, or Border Crossing Cards
- All paperwork given to you by Customs and Border Protection. Have you ever had any contact with Immigration?
- Immigration Court paperwork. Have you ever been in the Immigration Court? Keep every document
- All documentation regarding a Appeal
- Criminal Documents: arrest report, charging document, plea agreements, judgments of conviction. Get and keep CERTIFIED copies of all documents, especially if the record is sealed
- All receipts from any immigration petition filed on your behalf, or filed on behalf of your parents. Any approval notices
Keep all of these documents together in one pouch or folder. If you have a scanner, scan everything and keep it in a folder on your desktop.
If you have all of your documents, your attorney can quickly figure out what is happening in your case. If you have an attorney, when you are finished, obtain a copy of the lawyer’s entire file. The file belongs to YOU!