Most immigration procedures require an interview with an official from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or a court appearance in front of an Immigration Judge in court. The tenor of interviews depends on the USCIS officer, judge, or court personnel assigned to the case, so it is almost impossible to be entirely prepared. The officer does not have anything against the individual being reviewed. It is important to remember, however, that it is their job to determine whether there is anything about their background or present circumstances that could prevent them from obtaining a desirable outcome, in this case, legal immigration status. Below, we have put together an assortment of Dos and Don’ts for USCIS interviews and Court hearings that our attorneys recommend.
DOs for Interviews and Hearings:
- DO- Seek representation from an Attorney always.
- DO- Always wait for the Attorney to enter the building together unless instructed otherwise.
- DO- Be courteous and respectful to the USCIS officer and staff, and judge and court personnel.
- DO- Dress appropriately. The best attire to appear in would be business casual.
- DO- Review all documentation and forms prior to the interview. It’s not necessary to memorize everything, but it is good to go over basic information such as DOBs, place of employment, family names, travel dates, the details of the case, etc.
- DO- Look through a list of sample questions and practice before the interview (our office can provide this for you). When asked personal questions, it is important to remain calm and not get flustered.
- DO- Be prepared. Having copies of all the forms and original documents that were submitted can come in handy in case the file is missing, or incomplete, or the officer needs to consult a document but cannot find it.
- DO- Arrive with sufficient time to the hearing/interview. Allow time for traffic and locating the USCIS office or Court to avoid missing the appointment which can result in a denial of the case.
- DO- Answer only what is being asked. It is important to pay attention and listen to the questions being asked to avoid confusion and oversharing.
- DO- Bring an interpreter if communicating in English is difficult.
DON’Ts for USCIS Interviews and Court Hearings:
- DO NOT- Forget any government-issued identification documents.
- DO NOT- Forget to turn off all electronic devices before entering your appointment.
- DO NOT- Lie to the USCIS officer or judge about case details.
- DO NOT- Argue or joke around with the USCIS officer, judge, or family members.
- DO NOT- Talk too much. Being too talkative and releasing unrelated information could raise the interviewer’s suspicions as it can be perceived as dishonest.
- DO NOT- Take anything that can be classified as alcohol, drugs, or a weapon. These are federal buildings, therefore, bringing any items classified as a weapon (such as perfume, nail clippers, etc.), alcohol, or drugs could result in a fine or have negative implications.
- DO NOT- Guess any answers. It’s better to be honest and say “I don’t remember” or “I don’t know” than to fabricate an answer. Forgetting the answer to a question is an honest mistake, guessing incorrectly, however, and giving an answer that is different from the one provided in the submission could raise red flags and could put into question the validity of the case.
Overall, it’s important to expect the unexpected in these interviews. The best way to prepare for this is to anticipate that anything can happen, remain calm, and above all, answer the questions honestly. Good manners and proper courtroom etiquette are very important and require preparation and self-awareness to make a good impression. While the judge, immigration personnel, and other courtroom formalities can be intimidating, we hope these helpful tips serve as a guide and set of expectations for these types of interviews and hearings.