By Harry Keaney
Gamekeeper-turned-poacher is not a description Bill Carroll particularly likes. But there’s no denying the former high-level Immigration and Naturalization Service official is now on the other side of the desk.
Carroll, an Irish American, and his partner, Ben Ferro, are now putting their more than 61 years of experience as senior officers of the INS to use in helping green card and citizenship applicants.
Carroll, whose ancestors came from Donegal, was a director of the Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., offices of the INS. Carroll and Ferro retired as INS directors in 1998. But if Carroll thought he was leaving the intricacy of immigration and naturalization law behind, he was mistaken.
"I have been asked these questions all the time since I retired," he said. "I can now do more on the outside than I could on the inside. The bureaucracy was like a big awkward giant."
Carroll said that their Manhattan-based company, INS Greencard, charges "about a third less" than most attorneys charge for similar services. But when it is pointed out that it is not necessary to hire an attorney to complete a citizenship or green card application, Carroll says 50 percent of people don’t do that. And, he adds, about 33 percent of forms are returned by the INS because of errors.
Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter
"It is not as easy as people think," Carroll said.
Cutting down on forms that need to be returned also benefits the INS, Carroll believes.
As to the gamekeeper-turned-poacher analogy, Carroll said, "not really. We are helping the INS and helping the applicants."
Carroll and Ferro say they do this by completing INS applications over the internet using their INSWizard tool, which guides users, step by step, to determine their eligibility.
"Other sites offer information and download forms," Carroll said. "We’re the only site that walks you through the INS application process."
For details of the new site, log onto www.insgreencard.com.