An immigration interview with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can be a nerve-wracking experience. One of the questions we get the most here at the firm is what is going to happen at my immigration interview and how do I need to prepare? While interviews are a normal part of the process in obtaining permanent residency (often known as a green card) it can be stressful for anyone who is not familiar with the process. Understanding what will happen at an immigration interview at USCIS can help ease your mind, and will help you prepare for the interview itself.
What Will Happen at the Immigration Interview
At your immigration interview, your identification will be checked by a USCIS officer, and then you will be will be sworn in, which means that you promise to tell the truth during your interview. The officer will then ask you a series of questions, typically starting with questions concerning your application and will ask to see the documents that you have been asked to bring to the interview. Accordingly, it is extremely important to review the document checklist you are provided with your interview notice in order to ensure you bring the original documents the Officer will need to verify in addition to the evidence to establish the bona fide nature of the relationship. Next, the officer will ask you questions based on your specific situation. For family-based visas, such as a marriage visa, this may include questions about your relationship with your spouse. For employment-based visas, you will likely be questioned about your job, your employer, and your qualifications.
What to Bring to Your Immigration Interview
If you have been called in for an interview with USCIS, you will have received a notice in the mail. This notice will include a list of documentation that you must bring with you to the interview. Assemble this required information, making sure to double check it for accuracy.
Next, put together additional documentation that may be necessary or helpful for your interview. This may include a complete copy of your visa petition and adjustment of status application, along with your passport. If you have traveled while waiting for your interview, bring those documents (such as an advance parole permit) to the interview. You should also bring originals of any documents that you submitted copies of to USCIS, such as your birth certificate or marriage certificate, and any reports that you did not yet file.
If you are applying for a green card based on your marriage, assemble documentation that will show that you share a life with your spouse. This may include joint bank account statements, birth certificates for your children, or mortgage documents. If you are applying based on employment, bring a current letter from your employer, specifying your employment and salary. Finally, be sure to bring any documents that reflect any changes in your life, if applicable. For example, if you have changed jobs, be sure to bring a letter from your new employer.
Preparing for Your Interview
It is natural to be anxious about an interview with Orlando USCIS. Taking the time to prepare for your interview beforehand can help calm your nerves, and increase your chances of success.
First, carefully consider what you will wear for your interview. USCIS Officers, like anyone, may make a judgment about you based on your outfit, hairstyle or other factors. Dressing appropriately, as though you were going to a job interview or to a religious service, can not only help you feel more confident, but it can help to project a more professional image to the officer.
Second, take the time to review your application and documents. Many USCIS Officers base at least some of their questions off of your application for permanent residency. Spending some time reviewing your application and all supporting documents can help you answer these questions more easily in the interview.
Third, if you are applying for a green card based on marriage, talk to your spouse beforehand about your relationship and major life events. It isn’t unusual for spouses to have different memories about things like first dates, or how a relationship progressed. Having a conversation about these things can be useful, and a great way to refresh each of your memories before your interview.
Fourth, be on time. It can be extremely difficult to reschedule USCIS Orlando interviews, and officers do not look favorably on applicants who are late to their interviews. Be sure to arrive at least half an hour early to your interview.
Fifth, always answer honestly, and only answer the question asked. Providing false information during your green card interview can lead to a denial of your application, in addition to other consequences. Listen carefully to the question asked by the officer, and provide truthful answers to the question. If you do not know the answer to a question, say that you do not know instead of making up a response. For particularly difficult situations, you may want to practice your answers before your interview. A skilled immigration law attorney, such as the attorneys of Colombo & Hurd, can help you navigate these challenging issues.
Sixth, remember to stay calm and to never speak rudely to the USCIS officer. The officer has wide latitude to ask questions, and some may seem invasive or inappropriate. If you refuse to answer these questions, get upset or talk back, it could negatively impact your application. Being prepared can help you stay calm — and increase your chances of a successful interview.
Work with an Experienced Orlando Green Card Attorney
At Colombo & Hurd, many of our attorneys are immigrants themselves, so we understand the USCIS process from both a personal and legal perspective. We work hand -in-hand with our clients to help them achieve their immigration goals, from obtaining a visa through achieving permanent residency. We will stand with you throughout the process, including at your Orlando immigration interview. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you with your immigration matter, contact Colombo & Hurd today at our Orlando office at (407) 478-1111 or our Miami office at (305) 455-0590 to schedule a confidential consultation.