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  • Writer's pictureIliana Campos, Esq

Emigrating is an act of bravery

Emigrating is an act of bravery, and it's a pursuit for dreamers who invest their hopes in a better life and achieving their goals. Dreaming is essential in life, just as setting goals is, but it's crucial to complement those dreams with information and education to reach what we desire. When we migrate, there's no way to anticipate everything that will happen, and we can't foresee all the possible scenarios in this great adventure of starting a life in another country.

I know this well, as it was my experience nearly 20 years ago. Work and life have taught me that while we can't have absolute certainty about our future, we can prepare ourselves as best as possible to face what comes with greater strength and, above all, with informed decisions. That's why it's important to consider the following advice I'll provide to help you feel more in control of your situation and make informed choices:

1. First and foremost, it's important to engage in introspective reflection and establish certain key points clearly. Read, research, and have a clear idea of the place or places that might be your destination. You don't have to make a final decision, but it's good to have a starting point.

2. Make a list of your goals and what you wish to accomplish once you settle in your destination, so you can begin charting a path towards your objectives.

3. I firmly believe in the saying, "knowledge is power." Therefore, the most important piece of advice I can give in this review is to please consult with an immigration attorney before taking any steps. Educating yourself and gathering information are undoubtedly the first steps you should take before embarking on this journey. I often receive clients in my office who regret not starting this journey with a consultation with a professional who could have guided and advised them better. They know that this would have provided them with the tools to avoid certain outcomes that they can no longer change. Please consult with a professional before making any immigration decisions. This consultation will determine your initial steps and ensure you have the essential information to prevent irreversible mistakes.

4. My next piece of advice dovetails with the previous one: never violate immigration laws. Our culture has a habit of asking for forgiveness before asking for permission. However, in immigration law, this approach is impractical and doesn't work. Many times, there's no way to remedy the indiscretion committed, and if you had consulted beforehand, you would have had a range of options that are no longer available. Know the law and avoid indiscretions that may later prevent you from changing your immigration status or applying for specific benefits.

5. Don't rely on immigration advice from the general public. Immigration law is highly specific and individualistic. Therefore, each case is unique, and what applies to one person doesn't necessarily apply to others. Each case must be analyzed individually. Only a professional has the necessary tools to guide you properly.

6. Don't conduct immigration procedures with notaries, paralegals, or "immigration specialists." I can't emphasize this advice enough. These individuals lack the academic and professional preparation to provide this type of guidance. They also don't have a fiduciary responsibility to the client, so, in simple terms, they are not accountable for the work they do. Attorneys belong to a professional association that supervises our work and ensures that we practice our profession in accordance with established laws. This is a safeguard and guarantee that these individuals do not offer. The role of a notary public is very different in the United States; generally, being a notary public in our countries also requires being a lawyer and is essentially a specialization. Here, it's a course that can be completed in a couple of hours online and requires minimal academic preparation.

7. Seek guidance from a certified public accountant (CPA) to provide you with a general understanding of how the economy works in the United States and what your financial obligations would be.

8. Learn English! It's not a requirement to speak English perfectly, but if you plan to settle in the United States, having a basic education in the language will be highly useful and help you adapt more comfortably.

9. Look for community support groups that allow you to integrate into society, meet people, and connect with your community.

10. My final piece of advice to conclude is to remember that when we immigrate to a country that is not our own, we should strive to act in line with its established norms and respect its way of life. I don't mean that we should abandon our roots and erase who we are; rather, I'm referring to cultural and social norms that require our adaptability. This will allow us to enjoy the benefits that this beautiful country offers, coexist socially without ceasing to be ourselves, but respecting that we will now live under its culture and rules.

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