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Immigration: The Consulate Interview

Posted by attorney C. Abbott

One of the major hurdles faced by people from other countries who want to travel to the United States is the consulate interview. This interview is conducted by a Consulate officer who examines the application, interviews the applicant, and makes the decision on if a visa will be give. It is important to remember there is few options available if the visa is denied by the Consulate officer because of the doctrine of consular absolutism.

Consular Absolutism

Consular absolutism is based on the belief that the officer is in the best position to determine if a visa applicant qualifies for the visa and will follow the rules associated with the visa when within the United States, including not overstaying when the visa expires. The recent Court decision of Bustamante v. Mukasey agreed that consular absolutism makes factual decisions made by Consulate Officers nonreviewable.

It is extremely important for the visa applicant to be fully prepared for the interview. Several general suggestions can be applied to all consulate interviews.

Correct Information in Application

Check to make sure all the information provided in the application is accurate. Names need to be spelled correctly and proper dates need to be provided. Also use the address that you will be using to receive mail. If a notice is sent to you for further information or new forms to complete, you will have a deadline to reply. The request may ask for specific documents that will require you to locate originals or certified copies to take to the interview.

Local Consulate Rules

Many local US Consulates have specific rules that have to be followed to get into the building for the interview. One suggestion is to contact the consulate to determine the specific rules that have to be followed. You can also check on the Internet for the specific guidelines for the local consulate. These rules can change at short notice so it is necessary that you know the current rules.

How You Act

The Officer will be examining you throughout the interview. Thus, it is important to dress the same way you would if you were going to a business interview. You will be judged on the words you use and the way to react. Answer every question truthfully to the best of your ability. If you do not understand a question, you need to say you don't understand. Politeness is essential. If the Officer makes a statement that you believe is not true, you need to say so.

Presenting Documents

You need to provide all of the documents that are listed in the interview notice. If originals are requested, you need to bring the original documents to the interview. If you do not have the originals, you need to be able to explain why you do not have the document. It is always a good idea to bring with you copies of all the documents requested and offer them to the officer with the originals.

All documents are to be in the form requested in the notice. Some documents such as police reports and medical reports may be in sealed envelopes. If the documents are to be provided in a sealed envelope make sure the envelope is sealed.

Each Interview is Unique

Each interview can be different. The officer is trained to evaluate each application on its own merits. The more prepared the applicant is for the interview the more likely the applicant will be ready for the specifics of the interview.

Additional resources provided by the author

U.S. Department of State current listing of websites for U.S. Embassies, Consulates, and Diplomatic Missions

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