There are many different types of immigration interviews, such as an asylum interview, a marriage interview, a naturalization interview, or a consular interview. (See this article on the different types of immigration interviews.) The officer conducting the interview will ask different types of questions at each of these different kinds of interviews and you will be required to show different documents. Nonetheless, there are some basic tips for how to prepare best for an immigration interview in general. If you know how to prepare for one immigration interview, you will do well in any type.
Be on time for your immigration interview! Sometimes it can be hard just to get an appointment and officers are usually very busy. If you are even a minute or two late in a busy office or consulate, your case can be denied, even if you do show up later! Always arrive at least a half an hour before your scheduled interview in case there is a long line to enter the building, there is traffic, you have car trouble, or you forget something. If you have a long journey to the office, give yourself even more extra time. Remember that many things will not be allowed in the building, such as matches, lighters, pepper spray, sharp objects, liquids, or cell phones. If you have extra time, you will be able to put any objects you are not allowed to bring back in your car without worrying about being late. If you arrive early, the officer may call you for your interview early, but your attorney may not yet have arrived. Do not enter without your attorney! Always ask the officer politely if you can please wait for your attorney, who will arrive by your scheduled interview time. Without a good attorney present, officers may ask you questions they are not allowed to or incorrectly deny your case. (Unfortunately, some consulates will not allow an attorney to enter with you. If this is the case, make sure to prepare well beforehand so you know what will be asked.)
Dress appropriately for your immigration interview. If you are going to an interview with the boss of a big company, you will not show up in a jeans and a t-shirt, but will instead wear your nicest suit or dress. Immigration officers are people, too, and they will also look at your clothing to determine what kind of person you are. Dress conservatively, do not wear anything too revealing, and be sure that your outfit shows you are the kind of responsible, mature, and confident person the officer will want to share his country with.
Listen carefully to each question and answer honestly and appropriately. The officer is a busy person and usually only has a certain amount of time for each interview. If you take too long, he will lose his lunch break and that certainly will not put him in a good mood when he is deciding your case! Therefore, listen closely to each question he or she asks and be sure to answer exactly what they are asking – not more and not less. If the officer asks when you entered the US, do not tell him where. If he asks when you met your spouse, do not tell him where. Only answer each question directly, clearly, honestly, and in the least amount of words possible. Not answering the question or telling the officer more than he wants to know will aggravate him. You want to keep the officer happy so he will approve your case. Finally, if you do not know the answer to a question, it is okay to say that you do not know or do not remember. The officer will understand that you are nervous and it is better to tell the truth than to make a guess and get the answer wrong.
Bring copies of all your documents. Although each type of interview will require you to bring different documents, no matter what documents you are bringing, always have the original with you as well as an extra copy. Even if you sent a copy in with your application, it may have gotten lost and the officer will want another copy. Or, the officer simply will not want to look for it and will appreciate it if you give him another copy quickly. Keep all your documents well-organized so you can be ready the moment the officer asks you for something.
If you follow these simple tips, you will find that your immigration interview will go much better! You will feel more calm and confident and the officer will see this and it will help your case. Also, the officer will appreciate that you were on time, well-dressed, and prepared for your interview. The officer will feel respected and this is a big help at any type of interview, but especially an immigration interview! Good luck – I know you will be prepared for your immigration interview!
ImmigrationAmerica.org is a free website run by a licensed immigration attorney with years of experience. Our goal is to explain immigration law clearly and simply so you can understand.
Please make cache directory writable.