I helped my wife, at the time my fiance, emigrate to the U.S. while I was attending law school. I was not yet an attorney, nor had I taken any classes on international law or immigration. Unfortunately, finances were such that it necessitated that I do the work myself, rather than hire an experienced immigration attorney to assist me. That proves that it can be done by yourself. As an attorney, I assisted a number of people with immigration matters, and it varied from doing just about everything for them, and just having them sign where I told them to at times, to reviewing self-done work to offer limited advice due to the finances of my clients. I provided the services they needed, or wanted to pay for. While I found a number of websites, including the official government website, to be quite helpful, I wish I would have had “U.S. Immigration Made Easy” by Attorney Ilona Bray when I was a law student working at getting my fiance to the U.S. The book would also have been good to help when I was assisting clients with immigration matters, and I would have suggested it to a few of them that wanted to do more of the work themselves.
The book’s cover says it is the most complete immigration book available, and at nearly 600 pages, this claim is most likely true. I have not checked all books available, but this certainly is a complete work on immigration, aimed, like all Nolo published books, at non-attorneys. The book makes a complex subject more accessible to those without law degrees, but even with my law degree, I appreciate the easy to understand language used in the book.
The book is logically organized, making it easy to find what you need. After a one-page introduction, the book is divided into twenty-four chapters that are arranged in three main parts. Part One focuses on getting started and eligibility and procedures for immigrating to the U.S. The chapters include: Where to Begin on Your Path Toward Immigration; Are You Already a U.S. Citizen?; Can You Enter or Stay in the U.S. at All?; Dealing With Paperwork, Government Officials, Delays, and Denials; Special Rules for Canadians and Mexicans; and How and When to Find a Lawyer. Part Two provides an introduction to Permanent U.S. Residence (Green Cards).
The chapters consist of: Getting a Green Card Through Family Members in the U.S.; Getting a K-1 Visa to Marry Your U.S. Citizen Fiance; Getting a Green Card Through Employment; Getting a Green Card Through the Diversity Visa Lottery; Getting a Green Card as an Investor; Getting a Green Card as a Special Immigrant; Humanitarian Protections: TPS, DED, Asylee, and Refugee Status; and After Your Approval for a Green Card. Part Three is on Nonimmigrant (Temporary) Visas, and the chapters cover: Getting a Business or Tourist (B-1 or B-2) Visa; Getting a Temporary Specialty Worker (H-1B) Visa; Getting an H-2B (Temporary Nonagricultural Worker) Visa; Getting a Temporary Trainee (H-3) Visa; Getting an L-1 (Intracompany Transferee) Visa; Getting an E-1 (Treaty Trader) Visa; Getting a Treaty Investor (E-2) Visa; Getting a Student (F-1 or M-1) Visa; Getting a J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa; and Getting a Visa as a Temporary Worker in a Selected Occupation (O, P, or R Visa).
As you can figure out from the proceeding paragraph, one would not have to read this book cover to cover. Certain chapters will have no bearing on particular cases. As someone who helps different people periodically with immigration matters, this is a great reference to have. If you are doing it yourself, you will need to select what chapters your particular case falls under and use that chapter to assist with your immigration matters and the strategy you will use to accomplish your goals.
The book does lay everything you need out very well, and it includes checklists to assist with making sure nothing falls through the cracks. (Believe me, you don’t want things to fall through the cracks, because it can then delay things in an already timely process.) I also like that this book has a lot of practical inside tips that you don’t find on forms and websites. Bray’s experience and insights are very useful and add to the practicality of this book.
Like any legal book, laws can change. For this reason, it is always good to have the most recent editions, and to check to ensure any law you are relying on is still good law and has not been changed. Government websites can assist with this, or obviously, seeking the assistance of an attorney who is up to date on the law. Bottom line, this is an excellent book for anyone considering emigrating to the United States or helping someone who is.