Coping With Immigration Problems and Immigration Help for Immigrants

Immigration Help for Common Immigration Problems

This article discusses some common immigration problems and provides a few solutions and helpful immigration support resources. The idea to write this article came from a request to submit a poem about immigrant families, a topic that I rarely write about. I took up the challenge and submitted an immigration life poem titled, "Immigrant Dreams" which deals with some of the problems that immigrants face. Writing the poem got me thinking about the numerous problems faced by immigrants across the world. Having lived as an international student in the USA I realized that my experience could be of some help to others even though I chose not to immigrate to the USA and left after completion of my studies. While my own experience as a migrant student was positive I was exposed to the darker side of immigration and the numerous problems faced by both legal and illegal immigrants. I hope that this article will be of some help to the many people who immigrate in search of a better life and the fulfillment of their dreams.

Common Immigration Problems

Common problems faced by immigrants all over the world include: legal immigration problems; language barriers; cultural barriers and assimilation; racism; alienation and homesickness; under-employment relative to education level; and barriers to basic services such as health care. In this article I have focused on four major immigration problems and provided help for coping with them. It is my hope that these solutions will help you in coping with immigration and your life in a new country away from home. The immigration problems and solutions covered in the following sections are: legal immigration problems; language barriers; cultural barriers and culture shock; and homesickness and alienation. I have also included website links to helpful immigration support resources.

Legal Immigration Problems

I have chosen to start with a discussion of legal immigration problems since they are the gravest and most difficult of all issues facing immigrants. My first piece of advice would be to find an immigration lawyer to assist you with any legal problems that you may have. Finding an immigration lawyer can be costly and difficult so I have provided some tips on how to find an immigration lawyer. I have also provided links to low cost or free legal immigration assistance for those of you in America. Common legal immigration problems faced by immigrants around the world include the following:

  • Getting permission to stay in your host country longer than you originally intended to e.g. you entered the country on a temporary visa which only entitles you to a 3 month stay and you now want to stay longer or permanently.
  • Getting permission to do activities which you are not currently allowed to do such as working. This is one of the most common issues since your immigrant status as defined by your visa (entry documents) only entitles you to do certain activities.
  • Bringing relatives into the country, e.g. bringing a spouse, children, parents or fiancé(e) to join you in your new country of residence.
  • Being threatened with deportation from your new host country.
  • Being held by the immigration authorities in a detention centre or at the airport. This happened to a relative of mine who had legal immigration documents and was detained at an airport for over 2 hours simply because the immigration officer at the airport could not understand how an African student had the money to fly in and out of the USA so he decided she must be engaged in suspicious activities. We had to get an immigration lawyer to assist us. There was also the recent famous case of Indian Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan been detained at a US airport. So even people with legal immigration documents run into immigration problems some of which are simply based on discrimination, racial or otherwise.
  • Wanting a passport and not knowing whether you are entitled to a passport from your new home country.
  • Wanting to become a citizen and change your immigration status.
  • Wanting to travel (for example, for a holiday or family emergency), but been scared to travel since you are not sure whether you will be allowed back into your new country of residence.
  • Knowing whether you are entitled to use state services or claim benefits, for example, education, health services, council housing, social security benefits, housing benefits, council tax benefit. Note this also applies to legal immigrants who even though they pay taxes are sometimes not entitled to social benefits.
  • Knowing if you have the right to vote.
  • A relative or friend being refused entry at an airport or port when they come to visit you.

Tips on How to Find a Good Immigration Lawyer

1. The best method for finding an immigration lawyer is through word of mouth. If you are part of an immigrant association ask other members to recommend an immigration lawyer who has assisted them. You can also ask friends, relatives or workmates to recommend a good immigration lawyer that they have used.

2. If you are in the USA check the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) database and get a lawyer who is registered with them. You can find an immigration lawyer at AILA here.

3. Ask the State Bar lawyer referral service in the state where you live. Tell the lawyer referral service employee an overview of your legal problem so that they can refer you to an immigration lawyer in your area. A lawyer has to be in good standing to be listed with the State Bar referral service.

4. Do an internet research. Look on the internet for immigration lawyers and see if you can find recommendations from people who have used the lawyers. Type in the lawyers name in quotations and this will usually show search results about them e.g. type in "John Smith" in the search box. Also check if the immigration law firm is listed with the Better Business Bureau in your area. You can also look in the yellow pages for free attorney referral services and ask them for an opinion about the immigration lawyer that you are considering hiring.

5. This may sound like common sense but people sometimes overlook it. Make sure the immigration lawyer you hire usually handles cases that are similar to yours. For example if your legal immigration problem involves bringing a fiancée into the country look for a lawyer who deals with fiancée visas and who can see you through the whole process including marriage and getting your spouse citizenship. Immigration law is a complex varied field and lawyers have expertise in different issues.

You can find more tips on finding an immigration lawyer and getting immigration assistance for both legal and illegal immigrants in the links to support resources below.

Coping With Culture Shock, Cultural Clashes and Cultural barriers

Every new country or place has its own cultures and traditions. Many new immigrants experience culture shock when they arrive in their new host country. Most immigrants also want to retain their cultures as they are important to them and help them retain a connection to their home countries. This leads to problems in assimilating into the new society that they are now a part of. Their new neighbors may think of them as odd. It especially brings about problems for immigrant children and leads to generational clashes between parents and their children. Mum and Dad may think things should be done the way they did them back home while the immigrant kids having grown up in the new country have a different view. Some solutions include learning the new culture of the place that you have moved to and adapting some of their traditions. Sharing your culture with others at cultural events, churches or neighborhood gatherings. Food is always a good starting point. Cook dishes from your home country and take them to neighborhood or work parties to help educate others about your culture. This helps you maintain your ties to your home country, cultivate pride in your culture and educate others so that they can be more accepting of diversity. People are more likely to accept something that they understand so take a moment to educate others about your culture in a positive way. Be understanding that your children are mostly exposed to a different culture and allow them to express themselves while at the same time instilling in them a sense of pride in your own culture. This will work better than forcing them to do things your way.

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Getting Past Language and Communication Barriers

One of the most common barriers faced by immigrants is the language barrier. Most immigrants leave their home countries without learning the language of the country that they are migrating to. This causes untold problems since it hinders their ability to find work and get basic services such as healthcare and education. The inability to communicate serves as a major obstacle to new immigrants. One solution to this is to learn the language of the country that you are migrating to before you migrate versus after. For example there are many places where you can learn English as A Second Language so take English lessons before leaving. Or French, German or Spanish classes depending on the country that you are migrating to. Buy a language translation dictionary and use it until you are familiar with the language of your host country. For example a Spanish to English dictionary or a French to English dictionary. Enroll in language classes as soon as possible or buy software and books to teach yourself the new language. Use web translation services or buy translation software. Make friends with people who speak your language and the language of the new country that you are living in and ask them to help you with translations. Some immigrants never learn the language of their new host countries and instead rely on their children to serve as interpreters, this may work for some but it is best to learn the language for yourself so that you are not dependent on others and you can assimilate and become a part of your new community.

Coping with Homesickness and Alienation

This is a problem faced by many immigrants and international students. After the initial excitement of been in a new country wears off you begin to miss home and the family and friends that you left behind. Much as you may have been eager to leave your home country you now oddly find yourself missing it. That is human nature we always long for the familiar. You have to adjust to been in a strange and new environment. Some ways of dealing with homesickness include keeping in touch with friends and family back home. The internet and mobile phones have now made it easy, free and cheap to communicate with loved ones. Send emails regularly and call your family and friends back home. Stay in touch and this will keep you rooted and remind you that you always have people who love and care about you. Look for people from your home country and other immigrants and socialize with them. It is common for immigrants to form home country associations. When I was an international student in the USA most colleges had an International Students Association and in some cases students from specific countries also formed their own associations. These immigrant associations function as support groups and you can share your immigration stories and experiences as well as memories of home. You can also remind yourself of home by wearing map or flag t-shirts representing your country or continent. Or t-shirts with the name of your country. When I was an international student I had a car bumper sticker with the name of my home country and its flag. You can get items with your country flag and name online at just type in the name of your country in the search box and select a product category or "All Products" to list a variety of products. Items include mugs, stickers, badges, t-shirts, caps, tote bags, key chains, magnets and mousepads.


By Christian Fischer. (Own picture of a private globe, made in Germany.) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Christian Fischer. (Own picture of a private globe, made in Germany.) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

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Comments 44 comments

Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

This is an incredible article, Moyra. Well put together and very easy to understand. So much information! Thumbs up from me. Thanks for writing this. Glad you go the inspiration. Wonderful poem you wrote, by the way.

Moyra profile image

Moyra 7 years ago Author

Hi Frieda thanks for the comment and honored you enjoyed the poem. Thanks to Tom (from Eye on Life) for giving me the idea to write a poem on a topic I had not thought of.

crystal d 7 years ago

Some immigrants are too legal to qualify for deportation relief that illegal immigrants qualify for. The system is unfair. Just take a look as to what happens to the van der Spek family

Moyra profile image

Moyra 7 years ago Author

Hi Crystal thanks for the comment. There are numerous problems faced by immigrants both legal and illegal in various countries around the world and this is just the nature of the world that we live in. Until immigration policies and the underlying issues which drive people to immigrate are addressed the unfairness will continue to exist.

Hafid 6 years ago

Very good article

Moyra profile image

Moyra 6 years ago Author

Hi Hafid thanks for the comment and glad you enjoyed the hub.

Carlos Batara profile image

Carlos Batara 6 years ago from San Diego

Your article touches on a lot of points lost in the shuffle of our so-called "immigration debate."

Since I work in the field of immigration, I understand the agonies experienced by so many, agonies not understood by those who take an "us against them" approach. If more people truly try to see things, just for a few moments, through the perspective of an immigrant, we might be able to make progress on shaping policies which are more sensible and rationale.

Of course, that subjects a person to criticisms from those who believe "compassion" is an evil.

Keep writing. In my thinking, the more that immigrants, ex-immigrants, write, the broader the collective understanding.

Moyra profile image

Moyra 6 years ago Author

Hi Carlos thanks for you're insightful comment. The immigration debate in the US has taken an even uglier turn of late. It is my sincere hope that things will improve.

accofranco profile image

accofranco 6 years ago from L Island

this is a cute write up moyra...i am amazed at your level of competence in this regard...if i may ask, which country are you from?

Moyra profile image

Moyra 6 years ago Author

Hi "Accofranco" thanks. I am from Kenya.

dexixy profile image

dexixy 6 years ago from Kampala

So helpful especially that part of cultural part, thanks

Moyra profile image

Moyra 6 years ago Author

Hi "Dexixy" thanks glad you found it helpful.

JON EWALL profile image

JON EWALL 5 years ago from usa


YOU SAID ‘’immigration debate in the US has taken an even uglier turn ‘’

Your hub was very interesting as to LEGAL immigration. I believe that US immigration laws have been abused by ILLEGAL immigrants coming across our borders and taking advantage of US Government entitlement to the cost to American taxpayers as much as $300 BILLION a year.

Our politicians in Washington proclaim that ‘’ We are a nation of the rule of law ‘’. Americans are charitable and accept legal immigration. The ‘’uglier turn ‘’ that you made a comment on reflects your

Truthful idea of the problems.

We the people are angry with our government not enforcing the nations laws in these troubled times. We have poor in our country and because of the recession they need additional help. Those hardworking non-citizens (ILLEGALS ) receiving government funds and services are breaking our laws. Look at it this way, taking something from anyone is stealing from poor LEGAL citizens and the American taxpayer.

Two wrongs still don’t make a right. We are in a great country , where people believe in freedom and the rule of law .

Moyra profile image

Moyra 5 years ago Author

Hi Jon thanks for your insightful comment and for revealing another side of the immigration debate.

JON EWALL profile image

JON EWALL 5 years ago from usa


Check out my hub '' The Egyptian People Demand President Mubarak Leave The Country''

I linked your hub to my article ''immigration''

Moyra profile image

Moyra 5 years ago Author

Hi Jon thanks for linking to my hub. I left a comment on your "Egypt and Mubarak" hub.

Mo 5 years ago

Excellent article Moyra!

Kiko 5 years ago

Thank you for sharing this interesting article. Am sure this will be of great help to those people wanting to go to the U.S.

francisid 5 years ago

It will also help an immigrant if he'd settle in a place which has a semblance to his native country,or if he'd kick in with somebody from his own country. Nevertheless, migrating needs a lot of thinking and preparation. We can never expect the country we are migrating into to adapt to will always be the immigrants who will adapt to the country.

Nice article though!

Moyra profile image

Moyra 5 years ago Author

Hi Kiko I hope the article is helpful to those going through the difficult migration process. Francisid thanks you make some good points.

francisid 5 years ago

your article is really good'll surely help most immigrants who have nowhere to turn to..thumbs up!

i just do hope that people would consider things several times before they make decisions.migrating is a difficult choice to make.

Moyra profile image

Moyra 5 years ago Author

Hi Francisid thanks. I know of people who have struggled after migrating and gotten stuck in situations worse than they left at home but feel they cannot return. I agree with you migrating is difficult and many people leave hoping for a better life and sometimes do not see the pitfalls or perhaps think they can overcome them. As the famous saying goes hindsight is 20/20. I do feel for all immigrants struggling in foreign lands and it is my sincere hope that they make it or if not realize that they can return home (in cases where their migration was not due to security reasons).

ida 5 years ago

hi moyra,i like your article and need some directions for my thesis. topic is regional integration:experiences of SADC students studing at the University of KWA-ZULU Natal(it is about migration)

Moyra profile image

Moyra 5 years ago Author

Hi Ida, thanks and glad you liked the article. Sorry I do not have any information on your thesis topic. However, if you find anything helpful in this hub feel free to use it as long as you cite the source. One suggestion which you may already have taken into account. Since I do not think your sample group is one that has been widely studied. You may need to interview some students to gather personal experiences and include this in your thesis. Good luck.

Khadyja 5 years ago

Nice article! One thing that your article didn't really touch on is the families of the immigrant. For example, I am American and my husband is from Senegal. We are trying to get a visa for him to come here but the immigration process is so long and grueling. We have already been separated 5 months and still have not heard a thing from INS. I have two children from a previous marriage who consider my husband to be their papa. We all lived in his country last year and became a solid, happy, family unit. I had to return to the US to finish my MA, and now our family is forced to live separately. It is a constant daily struggle to understand why we can't live a simple life together as a family.

Then there is also the stress of knowing that my husband will experience all the difficulties you listed above once he does finally come here. It is a lot of responsibility on my part and I have to try to support him the best I can. Some of the things I did to ease his transition is 1) Help him learn English, 2) Learned to cook a lot of his dishes so he can have familiar food when he comes, 3) Relocated to a place closer to jobs and public transportation so he can be more independent, 4) started to build a network of friends with similarities to avoid total isolation (as is so common in American culture, even for us natives :-P), and 5) Taken the time to explain some common cultural practices as to avoid some of the culture shock.

Thanks again for having the courage to speak up on this issue. I think its something we all need to talk about more!

Moyra profile image

Moyra 5 years ago Author

Hi Khadyja thanks for highlighting this important issue. I hope you can do a hub on it, giving the perspective of an American with an immigrant spouse. I agree with you that the immigration process can be quite lengthy and stressful, hopefully your husband will be able to join the rest of you soon.

JON EWALL profile image

JON EWALL 5 years ago from usa



Today on the 4th we celebrate FREEDOM

Jessicapotter24 profile image

Jessicapotter24 5 years ago from Los Angeles, California

Great hub with all the needed details!! It is surely a hard life for immigrants in the new country as everything is different from their own country. Most importantly, the sense of being a newcomer takes quite a lot of time to sink in. Having somebody for company from their own place will help them to overcome homesickness and unwanted fears. But as such, it is not easy. I would suggest that immigrants should definitely give second thought to the plan of moving from their own country. They should weigh the pro's and con's and then decide based on their situation and not just because many are migrating.

Alastair Burr 5 years ago

This is awesome I struggle day to day with these very issues. I left New Zealand to live in the US with my wife (whos American).... Theres one part that stood out to me in this article and that's education of others, or a false persona is formed of all immigrants as a whole. People must understand in nearly every culture/race migration has happened at some point in time. "Equality of life"

JON EWALL 5 years ago


On Mon. Sept 5, 2011 the nation celebrates LABOR DAY. Today unemployment stands at 9.1% and there are 14 million citizen workers out of work. The unemployment rate for black men is 18% and among black youth it is close to 24%. The US Economy 0.7% growth rate in the first half of 2011 was the slowest since the recession officially ended in June 2009.The Obama administration’s projections had to be lowered from 1.3% to 0.7%. The Obama administration’s estimates have been wrong over 40% of the time

Illegal alien immigration is not a solution to the country’s labor problems. How many jobs have the illegal immigrants taken away from our legal citizens? The government estimates that there are 11 million illegal immigrants in the country.

‘’ We are a nation of the rule of law ‘’, our politicians proclaim daily. The law is broken when you enter the country illegally, that’s a fact.

Anna 5 years ago

How can you find someone who can sort out this problem,

I am a Russian lady going for a holiday in England, I have all the correct tourist visa and papers, I am going to say for a month, however the Russian customs say you must show them £900, £30 per day before they allow you to travel.

Is this correct.

Moyra profile image

Moyra 5 years ago Author

Hi Jessica, thanks for the comment I agree with you that one should weigh the pros and cons before migrating. I think most people do but some base their decisions often on a false picture of the land of "milk and honey," and grass been greener on the other side. Sadly for many immigrants (illegal and legal in some cases) the true picture is often a difficult and different one.

Hi Alastair thanks for sharing and for your crucial point, I dealt with misconceptions on a regular basis as an international student in America. Also as you point out many nations have been built by immigrants and most of our ancestors came from some other place than the one we currently call home.

Hi Jon thanks for your comment I am not sure there is anywhere in my article that I recommend illegal immigration as a solution to the US is labor problems which are complicated and caused by multiple factors not just by illegal immigrants.

Hi Anna I am sorry I am not familiar with what you are talking about. Most countries have requirements you have to meet before they grant you a visa the best source of information is the respective country is embassy which issues the visa.

Jessicapotter24 profile image

Jessicapotter24 5 years ago from Los Angeles, California

Hi Anna,as Moyra has pointed out,it is the law of many countries to accept immigrants/ non-immigrants based on their financial status. This is to avoid any situation wherein they will not be able to support themselves during their stay in the country. Since you are going as a visitor, you need to establish that you will not become a public charge to that country.

Henrik 5 years ago

Very well written article. As I have gone through this process and it is no fun. Its a very long process.

Moyra profile image

Moyra 5 years ago Author

Hi Henrik thanks. I know what you mean I have a number of relatives and friends who have gone through the immigration process and it can be a pain. But its worth it if it gives you the chance to live with your loved ones or pursue your career goals.

Roger 4 years ago

I have a strong feeling the author never was in an alienated situation him self.

Moyra profile image

Moyra 4 years ago Author

Hello Roger, contrary to your opinion I spent over 10 years living in a foreign country. While I have never experienced the hardship of been an illegal immigrant I have experienced the alienation of living away from home. I also have many friends and relatives who are immigrants so I am not sure why you get the impression that I am not familiar with the situation.

hione 4 years ago

good :-)

adrew 4 years ago

i think you should put more information about it

lgjhere profile image

lgjhere 4 years ago

Given the topic of immigrants in upcoming elections, a wonderful new book that helps explain the role, struggles, and contributions of immigrants is "What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z: How to understand crazy American culture, people, government, business, language and more.” It paints a revealing picture of America for those foreigners who will benefit from a better understanding. Endorsed by ambassadors, educators, and editors, it also informs Americans who want to learn more about the U.S. and how we compare to other countries around the world on many issues. As the book points out, immigrants are a major force in America. Immigrants and the children they bear account for 60 percent of our nation’s population growth. Legal immigrants number 850,000 each year; undocumented (illegal) immigrants are estimated to be half that number. They come to improve their lives and create a foundation of success for their children to build upon. Many bring their skills and a willingness to work hard to make their dreams a reality, something our founders did four hundred years ago. Chapter after chapter identifies those who became successful in the US and the contributions they made to our society. However, most struggle in their efforts and need a helping hand.

james ward 4 years ago

you are so heipful.

JON EWALL profile image

JON EWALL 4 years ago from usa


Hi, hoping all is going great.

'' I have a number of relatives and friends who have gone through the immigration process and it can be a pain''

That's the way immigration works , legally is the name of the game. We hear our elected officials in Washington say '' we are a nation of the rule of law ''.

In 1986 the government passed an immigration law to give about 2 million illegals a oppurtunity to get citizenship. Today there are maybe 11 million here '' without papers'' costing the tax payers ( government ) $300 billion in entitlement costs.

The President and the Speaker of the House are negotiating for a settlement to prevent the nation going over the '' fiscal cliff''. There are 23 million American workers out of work and yet the government can't stop the flow. US LAW ISN'T BEING ENFORCED,why is that. your thoughts please.

Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Amala 3 years ago

Your assay is really useful. Likes most of the immigrant from a foreign country, I have faced various challenges during the first and second year of [my] entrance in to the USA. Such as the culture conflict and language barrier.

Delores Lyon 19 months ago

Thanks for sharing this information on common immigration issues. I think it is really important to first deal with legal immigration issues before tackling other things like assimilation. You need to be sure that you are 100% allowed to be in the country you're in before you seek other help.

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