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Credibility: Honest Details Win the Case

Posted by attorney Elizabeth Blandon

Telling the complete truth, however unfavorable a foreign national may think it is to their case, is always preferable to misrepresenting the facts.

Some immigration cases take a very long time to complete. At any time during the process, the Citizenship and Immigration Service can request proof for any statement made including further details. A married couple can be asked for an affidavit about how they met or their first date, for example. This affidavit may be compared to statements made at a prior interview. Believe me, it's fine that you met on the internet and that your first date was a walk in the park.

Here are other reasons why the complete truth is so important:

Attorney-Client Relationship: Attorneys have an obligation to represent their clients to the best of their abilities. As a result, most communications between attorneys and their clients are privileged. This means that the information will remain between the two parties.

However, without knowing the facts, attorneys cannot appropriately represent their clients. A minor detail may seem insignificant to the foreign national but can completely change a case. For instance, clients may choose to not tell their attorney about an arrest because they were either found not guilty or their records are sealed or expunged. This secret could prove disastrous – without knowing about the arrest, the attorney may tell the foreigner that they are eligible for relief, when in fact, they are not. All the time, fees, and expectations will be wasted.

Immigration Judge or Immigration Officer: The truth is even more important when testifying before a government agent or an Immigration Judge.

In order to be successful, a foreign national must be credible. The persons deciding the case must believe what they are being told. For example, even if foreigners are eligible for asylum based on harm they actually suffered in the past, the case could be denied just because the immigration officer or the immigration judge does not believe the statements made in the application.

Although immigration judges and officers are aware those foreigners are nervous and that they may be retelling a very painful story, they still expect the truth. They deserve it. Where foreigners exaggerate the harm they suffered to guarantee a victory, more likely they are only guaranteeing a denial.

Preparation is very important to this process:

  • practice telling your story to a close friend or anyone you feel comfortable with;
  • talk to people in your home country who are familiar with what you experienced (they may be able to jog your memory for a detail you have forgotten); and
  • try to stay calm/ remind yourself that your testimony is nothing more than a conversation.

This communication is intended as general information and not specific legal advice, and this communication does not create an attorney-client relationship. Consultation with an experienced competent immigration attorney is the best way to address individual concerns.

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