You've made it all the way to a very important step, the interview! Here are five tips from an immigration attorney on how to pass this portion of the journey.
This may seem obvious to some, but many people arrive for immigration interviews dressed as if they were going grocery shopping. Dressing "business casual" or more will show the interviewer that you appreciate the importance and serious nature of the interview.
More importantly, dressing "up" will most likely put you more at ease. Government interviews, though usually conducted in a non-confrontational matter, can be intimidating to many. This is especially true when you consider the consequences the interviewer's decision will have on your life. Dressing appropriately will make you feel more in sync with your surroundings and the situation, and will help you at least not feel out of place in a government office setting.
This being said, be sure to be comfortable as well. If you are sitting uncomfortably throughout the entire interview, and constantly worried about your appearance, you may have trouble articulating your answers or remembering certain details.
Bring all original documents and an additional copy
Never forget your passport. Your passport(s), including the one you used to enter the United States, contain crucial information regarding your case and it is unlikely that any decision will be made without the immigration officer being able to see the original.
In addition, you should always bring the original and a copy of all documents in support of your case, even if they were submitted to immigration before. At a minimum, this will include biographic documents such as your birth certificate, marriage certificate, divorce decree, and children's birth certificates. Documents not in English must be translated, unless submitted abroad to a consulate in a country where the language of the document is spoken.
You must also submit additional evidence depending on your kind of case. If you are unsure what other documents are needed, you should consult a lawyer who can help you prepare the best supporting document package for your application.
Do not bring children unless they are part of the application.
Children, especially when young , can be distracting at a moment when you need your focus the most. If your children are not included *as applicants* in your application, do not bring them to your interview.
You will most likely have to wait before being calling into the interview. In addition, some interviews can last close to an hour or more. Children tend to get restless quickly in these situations. You are not allowed any electronics inside most US Citizenship and Immigration waiting rooms or interview offices, so children will not be able to play with cell phones, video games, portable DVD players to distract themselves.
Some interviews are recorded. Restless children, in addition to distracting you as you are being asked questions, will also affect the quality of the recording if they make sounds or talk. You will need all of your focus on the interview process and the questions being asked. If your children are not applicants, leave them at home or in school.
Do not be afraid to ask for an interpreter.
If you are unsure of your ability to understand or answer questions in English, and you are not applying for citizenship, you should ask for an interpreter. Except for asylum cases, an interpreter will be provided for you by US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Most offices ask that you make the request in advance (usually by filling out the form included with your appointment notice). If you did not request an interpreter in advance, however, you should still be able to ask for one on the day of the interview.
Speaking English during your interview has certain advantages, mainly that you are able to directly communicate with the interviewer, and many applicants believe that this will directly impact the outcome of the interview. However, if you become nervous or are not proficient in English, the risk of misunderstanding the question or incorrectly phrasing the answer outweigh the advantages of showing the interviewer you speak English.
At the end of the day, the immigration interview is designed to be a non-confrontational experience. Although every interview is different, most of the questions are usually based on an application you already submitted. In other words, you know the answers since you filled out the application.
Review your application and documents ahead of time to be sure you are familiar with everything the officer will have in front of them during the interview. If you believe your situation is somewhat unusual, you may want to consider speaking to an attorney before the interview. If you have hired an attorney to work with you on the application process, ask them about any questions you have regarding the process and the specific facts of your case. The more you know, the less you will have to worry about.