Attorney at Law

7 Immigration interview Do's and Don'ts

James Parker
September 17, 2022
Last reviewed by
Boruch Burnham, Esq.
May 10, 2023

The process of immigration is a lengthy commitment. There are documents to gather, fees to pay, general naturalization provisions to fulfill, and hoops to jump through in order to demonstrate to the U.S. Center for Immigration Services (USCIS) that you are a healthy individual who is not a danger to the United States or its people.

The culmination of this process is the immigration interview. This in-person interview is intended to allow an officer of the U.S. to examine you personally. If the interview is unsuccessful, it can be the undoing of all of your efforts. In order to help you present your best case in your interview, Attorney at Law has created a brief list of do’s and don’ts to give some general guidance.

Do: Gather and Bring Copies of Your Documents

When you come to your interview, the questioner may refer to one of the forms you have filled out or a detail on one of your documents. To ensure that you can communicate about this clearly, you should bring copies of any forms you have filled out as well as copies of the original documents that you attached to the forms. 

In addition to having copies of documents, you should study your responses and be able to clarify any responses clearly without much confusion. Having these documents available and easily referenceable can not only help you get through the questions, but it can also improve your standing with the interviewer by performing professionally.

Don’t: Overshare Your Answers

When answering questions, the interviewer will likely address personal information and ask very invasive questions. It will be necessary for you to answer these questions, but you do not need to over explain your answers. While it is essential to answer honestly, you do not need to give extremely lengthy answers. Before responding, try to consider the most concise way that you could summarize your answer.

Additionally, if you have some issue in your past that is asked about, answer in ways that portray you well. It is important to remember that the purpose of this interview is to determine whether you’re eligible to move forward with the immigration process. Therefore it is important to present yourself in the best possible light.

Do: Bring Any Human Resources You Need

While preparing for the interview, you may want to consider what you need in terms of accessibility and protection of your rights. To that end, you may want to enlist the services of an interpreter or immigration law attorney. 

An interpreter can be invaluable to you if you are not highly fluent in English. Since the immigration interview will be conducted in English, an interpreter can help to translate any confusing idioms or figurative languages that assist in facilitating the interview process.

In addition to understanding the words the interview says, immigration attorneys can help you understand your legal rights. Although you are not a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, you do have rights that an immigration attorney can protect. Additionally, an immigration attorney can also help you refine your answers to questions in order to give the best answers possible while remaining fully legal.

Don’t: Act Overly Casual

During the interview process, the interviewer may try to create a pleasant rapport with you. They may act friendly and helpful, but ultimately they are there to assess your worthiness to enter the country. While you shouldn’t be rude, you should avoid making jokes or being sarcastic, particularly with regard to questions about drugs or drug dealing, having communicable diseases, coming to the U.S. to practice bigamy, or participating in human trafficking or smuggling people into the country.

While these jokes may be funny, and while the sarcasm may feel cathartic in such a stressful time, these comments are most likely to count negatively towards your prospects of success.

Do: Be Punctual and Professional

With such high stakes riding on this interview, it is important to start off in the best possible way. Showing up early to your interview is vital. Unfortunately, the USCIS is not very cooperative in rescheduling interviews so this will have to be an event that you schedule around instead of the reverse. 

It is also important to choose an outfit that looks professional, as  showing up looking unkempt or poorly groomed will not go over well with the interviewer. To make the best possible impression you should show up dressed nicely, with a clean and neat appearance and good personal grooming.

Don’t Be Deceptive or Aggressive

The pressure of an immigration interview is real. The stress of having your life under a microscope is immense and it can be easy to lose your calm when it feels like you are not being heard or understood by the interviewer. However, nothing will make you lose the interview faster than being deceptive or aggressive.

Because of the rigorous nature of the immigration vetting process, if you lie it can be likely found out. For that reason, if you don’t know the answer to a question, admit ignorance. If the answer is inconvenient for your case, do your best to answer in the most positive way that is honest.

If the interviewer seems rude or you feel they are not listening, remain calm. Arguing with the interviewer, insulting them, or threatening them will only hurt your interview and likely result in the rejection of your application.

Do: Find the Immigration Attorney You Need

If you have an upcoming immigration interview, you are likely to benefit immensely from the assistance of an attorney with extensive immigration law experience.

Through AAL’s directory, you can find many excellent attorneys with extensive experience in practicing immigration law that will be able to advise you, help you explore your options, and advocate on your behalf to get you the best possible outcome as well as deftly navigate the complex processes of immigration bureaucracy and immigration court while advocating for your rights.

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