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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.
Immigration Books and Immigration Guides
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.
Website Links to Immigration Assistance, Immigration Advice and Immigration Support Resources
- American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)
AILA, American Immigration Lawyers Association. Includes AILA registered lawyers, immigration lawyers online search and immigration support resources including website link to free immigration legal help.
- LawHelp.org | Find free legal help and information about your legal rights
LawHelp contains information to help people with low and moderate incomes find free legal help in their area, learn about their legal rights, and find social service agencies, courts, and other information. Includes legal immigration assistance.
- Help with UK immigration problems
Identifies situations where immigration or nationality advice may be needed and gives details of organisations that can help. Help and advice for UK immigration problems.
- American Civil Liberties Union and Immigrant Rights
Information on immigrant rights and immigration legal resources.
- Immigration Forum, Immigration Advice and Support
Immigration forum and discussion board about immigration and visas for UK, USA, Europe, Canada, Australia and other countries. Immigration forums, immigration discussions, immigration advice and support from fellow immigrants.
- Immigration Books, Immigration Stories and Immigration Life Poem
Immigration Books, Immigration stories, immigrant stories, immigration poems, life poem.
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 Zazzle.com 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.