A main part of the process of most immigration cases is an in-person immigration interview. At the interview, an adjudicator looks over the documents in the application and asks questions to determine if the applicant is eligible for the legal immigrant status for which they are applying.
It can be useful to have an experienced immigration lawyer assist the applicant throughout the whole process, but seeking advice from a knowledgeable lawyer prior to the immigration interview, or even assistance at the interview itself, can be vital in ensuring a positive outcome on an immigration case.
What are the Best Ways to Prepare for an Immigration Interview?
The best way to prepare for an immigration interview is to have a knowledgeable immigration lawyer review the case and point out any issues with the application. With the input of a lawyer, the weaknesses present on the application can be addressed within the framework of allowances and exemptions in the law, offering a solid argument about why the issues should not preclude the applicant from their case being approved.
Although it is best to have the support of an immigration lawyer from the beginning of the application process, pre-interview preparation can be one of the most critical elements to ensure a positive outcome in the case. This preparation process should aim to give the interviewee a good idea of what will be covered in the interview and how any potential issues should be addressed. The interview preparation should include the following:
- If there are any removal orders or outstanding warrants in place, the lawyer may provide advice on whether it is advisable for the applicant to attend the interview, as S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can detain and even remove the interviewee, if they have cause.
- Interview preparation should include a roundup of all applicable paperwork and documentary evidence to support the case. This review should include discussions of any issues the immigration officer might consider as possible impediments to approval of the application.
- As part of the interview preparation, the immigration lawyer should present legal standing that can be used to refute any stance that the application should be denied.
What Issues Could Delay the Immigration Process or Lead to the Application’s Denial?
Some of the issues that may be present, which should be discussed in pre-interview preparation, include any changes to the applicant’s N-400 form, such as a change in employment, the addition of a baby to the family, or a trip outside the United States that does not violate the continuity of residency requirement.
Certain changes present a significant problem for the application process, such as an end to the marriage that secured a green card or an arrest for a crime or other similar incident.
Interview preparation might include discussions of justification for an arrest that never amounted to charges, or an explanation for a disability that prevents the applicant from learning English.
The interview preparation should also address any issues that the immigration officer may have been able to learn about the applicant that may not be included in the application materials. Officers may obtain information from other sources. The applicant should be ready to answer truthfully about any concerns that may lead the officer to question their fitness for approval.
The interview will involve an assessment of the applicant’s ability to understand and communicate in English, both spoken and written. These abilities should be established before the interview.
Preparation should include ensuring that the applicant is ready to answer questions regarding U.S. civics. This information and the English language learning materials are available from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Should I Bring a Lawyer to My Immigration Interview?
Having an immigration lawyer accompany the applicant to the immigration interview can be useful for a few reasons:
- The lawyer can prepare the applicant for what to expect during the interview process, alleviating uncertainty and stress on the part of the client.
- The lawyer can ensure that all relevant paperwork and documentation are prepared in advance of the interview so that any possible delays are avoided.
- The lawyer can clarify any questions presented by the immigration officer before the applicant provides their answers.
- The lawyer can help the applicant formulate their answers or provide guidance for the applicant to clarify what they mean to say. The lawyer cannot speak for the applicant, however; the questions will be directed for the applicant to answer.
- The lawyer can intervene to point out any problems with the line of questioning or any legal issues as they come up, keeping the interview focused on the facts and providing appropriate legal justification for issues of concern. For example, if a client neglected to include some pertinent information on their application, the lawyer may have to opportunity to explain the misunderstanding and focus on the legal implications that will or will not affect the client’s application.
- The lawyer can request that the immigration officer take a second look at evidence before issuing a decision. If an applicant’s paperwork seems to indicate that they are in violation of some mandatory condition, such as a physical residency requirement, the lawyer may be able to provide additional proof that the applicant does in fact meet the necessary requirements.
- The lawyer can review any written statements before they are signed by the applicant.
- The lawyer can be a source of support and calm during a high-stress process. This can be especially useful if the interview notes taken by the officer differ from the way the proceedings were perceived by the applicant. Having a lawyer in the room can help avoid misunderstandings and provide another witness in case of disagreements on what was said.
Are There Reasons Not to Have a Lawyer Accompany Me to the Immigration Interview?
Some applicants worry that having a lawyer by their side during their immigration interview might be off-putting for the officer, who they fear might assume the lawyer is there to help the applicant with a problem application. These applicants are afraid that having a lawyer might make it look as if they have something to hide or that they are trying to get away with something.
These fears are unfounded. Many immigration applicants enlist the help of a lawyer to represent their interests in an immigration interview. In fact, immigration officers often appreciate the presence of a lawyer who can help make the process run smoothly.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at MC Law Group, LLC Assist Clients with Their Immigration Cases
Individuals who are petitioning for legal status in the United States are subject to a convoluted and confusing process with rules that are constantly changing with the political tides. The Philadelphia immigration lawyers at MC Law Group, LLC can help you navigate the process and ensure a successful conclusion to the stressful and consequential undertaking. Call us at 215-496-0690 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout the tri-state area, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide.