Know your own case
This prepares the foreigner for direct examination, which are questions asked by the client's attorney. At this stage of the hearing, the foreign national should feel most comfortable because a familiar face is asking the questions. The foreigner's attorney will likely ask only questions that the foreigner knows how to answer. Be prepared to answer detailed questions about when, where, what and why.
Know the pitfalls of your case
Any good attorney will spend a fair amount of time focusing on the problem areas of your case. This will prepare the foreign national for cross examination, questions asked by the government's attorney. Cross examination follows direct examination. The government attorney will focus on the problem areas of your claim, such as criminal convictions and answers to prior questions that may indicate fraud. For example, if the foreign national testified they lived for two years in their homeland without any problems, bet that the government's attorney will ask about them why they are afraid to return to their home country.
Know the documents you have submitted
The REAL ID Act is a law which requires that applicants provide documentary evidence of their claim or an explanation as to why they cannot provide it. Just as important as providing these documents to their attorney, however, is that foreigners READ AND UNDERSTAND those documents. If a judge or government attorney has questions about the document, the foreign national must be prepared to explain inconsistencies. For example, applicants must know why the dates of police reports do not match with testimony as to the dates of the attack. Although a judge may be willing to grant a continuance so that the foreigner gathers corrected documents, do not rely on this as a strategy for the case. Too many requests for additional time may predispose the judge against the applicant.
Know how to answer questions
It is impossible to predict what questions will be asked at a hearing, but foreigner nationals should know how to answer all questions correctly. First, the answers must be truthful. Enough said. Second, the answers must be direct. For instance, if a government attorney asks the reason that you fear returning to the homeland, do not respond with "Well, my grandfather came from Spain in the 1800s and...." This is not your grandfather's case. Do not volunteer information that is not being requested.
Know what to expect
One of the major ways to deal with the stress of a final immigration hearing is to know what to expect. Ethical attorneys cannot guarantee outcomes, but they should describe the procedure of the hearing. This includes every detail from who sits where to the role of everyone who will attend. Although the author is a Board-certified attorney, this communication is intended as general information and not specific legal advice. This communication does not create an attorney-client relationship. Consultation with an experienced competent immigration attorney is the best way to address individual concerns.