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Immigration Interview Do's and Don'ts

Dealing with immigration law can be challenging, particularly with essential steps such as visa interviews. During this process, the applicant will come face to face with a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer. The interview will dramatically impact the visa application's success.

Although not all immigration applications require an immigration interview, most of them do.

When Is an Immigration Interview Necessary?

The following immigration processes ask an applicant to attend an interview:

  • Adjustment of status
  • Family-based immigration petition

The Office of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services usually conducts the immigration interview process. Whether it's a marriage-based green card interview or any other type of visa interview, it is always best to come well-prepared.

The Role of USCIS in the Interview Process

Knowledge of the application process will also help give you an idea of what may happen. It's important to remember that the interview process could also depend on the personality of the immigration officer. The USCIS officer will evaluate your eligibility based on various factors which include your personal background, immigration history, and other details relevant to your application process.

The USCIS officer may also examine your medical history and/or criminal records, which can affect the outcome of your visa application. For marriage-based green card interviews, USCIS officers will examine whether the marriage was bona fide. Being prepared will help make the USCIS interview more favorable.

The USCIS official determines whether anything about your background or present circumstances may preclude you from obtaining immigration status.

Getting Ready for Your Immigration Interview 

Prepare for the meeting. Bring copies of all your forms along with their corresponding original documents. You should be able to respond to interview questions about your forms without extensive referencing and confusion.

Also, be prepared to answer personal questions if you are at an interview related to your marriage-based green card interview. If you know there is a part of your application that will raise suspicion, practice a truthful response.

Follow the directions at the notice provided by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. It is essential to review the notice sent to you. Use the notice as a checklist of required documents you should bring to the USCIS office during the interview.

What To Wear During the Immigration Interview

Dress appropriately for the occasion. Remember that first impressions matter. This principle applies during the interview with a USCIS officer.

USCIS does not have clear rules for attire that would guarantee or disqualify your application. But the officer will assess your general character, which your appearance may signify.

A formal suit or dress is not essential. Yet, it is advisable to wear clean, modest clothing free of rips and potentially offensive graphics. Avoid casual clothing like sweatpants and open-toed sandals. Treating the immigration interview like a job interview may help you decide what to wear.

Tips for Completing the USCIS Interview

Show up on time. USCIS officers are notoriously difficult to reach. Requesting to reschedule or change the interview times may be challenging. USCIS offices are often busy, which could delay your immigration process. If you fail to attend your appointment, you may have to endure a lengthy process to get another interview.

Listen carefully and answer only the question that the officer asks you. Remain calm. 

If you don't understand a question, ask the officer to rephrase it. If you do not know the answer, admitting ignorance is better than making something up. Applicants who are not fluent in English may bring an interpreter for assistance.

You may also hire an immigration lawyer to accompany you if going through an interview alone is too overwhelming.

Common Immigration Interview Mistakes

The interview can be overwhelming, but the following tips can help you avoid leaving a poor impression:

  • Don't joke around with the USCIS officer. In particular, avoid joking or sarcasm about drug dealing, communicable diseases, bigamy, or smuggling people into the country.
  • Don't argue with your spouse or other family members during an interview. Agree beforehand on what you will do if a disagreement arises.
  • Don't argue with the USCIS officer. If the USCIS officer says part of your application is incomplete, ask for an explanation and attempt to remedy the situation using the documents and forms you brought.
  • Don't lose your patience with the USCIS officer and refuse to answer questions. Questions that may seem inappropriate or unimportant to you could be within the boundaries of what USCIS policy allows. Be patient and try to stay calm throughout the process.
  • Don't lie to the USCIS officer. 

If you have something sensitive to explain or expect a particular problem, hire an attorney. Your attorney should be able to defuse difficult situations during an interview.

Consult with an Attorney to Learn About Immigration Interviews

While immigration interviews can be stressful, you don't have to face the interview alone. You can contact an immigration lawyer who can assist you with processing your immigration case. They can provide you with valuable legal advice. It is crucial to seek legal help, particularly for those processing their immigrant visa through consular processing in a U.S. embassy or other U.S. government offices such as the National Visa Center.

Immigration attorneys can also help you collect the documents for your interview date. For instance, some interviews may require the applicant to bring an affidavit of support or a copy of the medical exam. Due to these varying requirements, it is best to seek legal assistance from an immigration lawyer. They can help you process your immigration application and attain the peace of mind you need as you go through this daunting process.

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