What Documents Should I Carry (And Not Carry) With Me?

Whether you are a naturalized U.S. citizen, a lawful permanent resident, a foreign national on a visa, or an immigrant with no legal status, there is certain paperwork that you should carry with you at all times. Amidst the Trump administration’s widespread actions to detain undocumented immigrants, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials may attempt to stop and question anyone who appears to be a foreign descent. News stories over the past six months have told of ICE agents stopping and wrongfully detaining U.S. citizens, simply because the agents did not believe that they were legally present in the U.S. Having certain documents in hand at all times can significantly decrease the chances of you being inappropriately detained; otherwise, you may even remain in detention until a family member or friend is able to procure the necessary paperwork to prove both your identity and your immigration status. This is particularly the case if you appear to be of foreign descent, speak with a foreign accent, or if you are traveling within 100 miles of a U.S. border. Unfortunately, all of these characteristics make you more susceptible to scrutiny by immigration officials. While you should carry the documents described below with you, you also should keep a set of photocopies of these documents in a safe place in your home or with a friend. For a naturalized U.S. citizen, you should carry your U.S. passport, your passport card, or a copy of your naturalization certificate. Permanent residents should carry their green cards with them; in fact, federal law requires that green card holders carry proof of residency with them at all times. Under no circumstances should you let your green card expire; renew your card well in advance of its expiration date. For immigrants who otherwise are lawfully present in the U.S., you should always have your Employment Authorization Document, I-94 card, passport, and other forms of proof of your lawful presence. Again, carry the original documents with you and keep a photocopy of them in a safe place at home. Even if you are an undocumented immigrant, there are still some documents that you should carry with you at all times. Specifically, if you have been in the U.S. for more than two years, you should carry with you documents showing the length of your residency. These documents might include receipts at American stores, employment records, utility bills, rent receipts, and mail sent to you at a U.S. address. You also should keep photocopies of all of these documents in a safe place that is easily accessible to your family and friends. With immigration arrests becoming more widespread in the state of California and elsewhere, detention away from family and loved ones has turned into a very real threat. Individuals who have no legal status need an experienced California immigration attorney who can assist them with the often complex process of defending against deportation. At Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C., we know how to stand up for the rights of those who are legally entitled to remain in the U.S. Call us today at (510) 491-0291 and schedule an appointment with one of our deportation defense lawyers, and learn how we can assist you.

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