Immigration Law Basics: What You Do And Don't Need To Do

If you are in this country on a visa or other immigration paperwork, you may worry about encounters with law enforcement, including immigration officials. It's natural to be nervous and worried when you're not sure what to expect. However, you can make the whole process an easier one when you are adequately prepared for what is to come. Here are some tips to keep in mind if you are ever stopped and questioned or if law enforcement comes to your door.

You Don't Have To Answer Questions

If you are pulled over by law enforcement or questioned in any manner, you don't have to answer. You have the right to remain silent and not answer any questions without a lawyer's presence. 

Don't be tricked into having a "conversation" with the officer in which he or she may try to trap you into saying something incriminating or something that can be misinterpreted. Instead, advise the officer that you don't wish to answer any questions unless your lawyer is present and the officer can produce a warrant.

You Don't Have To Open Your Door

If an immigration officer or other law enforcement knocks on your door, your first reaction is likely to open the door and answer their questions. However, unless the officer can produce a warrant, either by sliding it under the door or showing you through the window, you aren't obligated to open the door or talk with them.

Further, you should advise the officer that you do not wish to open your door if he or she doesn't have a warrant, and you do not consent to any search of your property or possessions without a warrant. This protects you and requires the officer to get a warrant if they suspect that you are here illegally or have overstayed your visa.

You Have To Carry Your Immigration Papers

As an immigrant in the country, you are required to carry your immigration papers and produce them if requested. Your visa and other immigration papers are essential because they show your legal right to be here, and they provide clear documentation that you have entered the country legally and are doing the right thing.

Understanding how to handle encounters with law enforcement and immigration enforcement can make all the difference in how those encounters go. Remember that you do have rights and you can exercise them. You should also make sure that you have an immigration lawyer that you can call in the event that something happens or you're uncertain how to handle a situation. Contact an immigration law firm to learn more.