VIDEO: 5 practical tips to improve your chances of success at your immigration interview

What are some practical things that you can do to increase the chances of success at your immigration interview?

Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, Immigration attorney here in St. Louis, Missouri. Today we’re not talking about situations where you have a fundamental problem or flaw of issue in your case and that you’d need specific advice on.

What we’re talking about today is more practical issues that you can think about before you go to your immigration interview to make sure that it goes as smoothly as possible.

The first thing I want to talk about is being prepared. Like the Boy Scouts say, “Be Prepared.”

You want to make sure that you have everything that you need when you go into your interview. You don’t want to be fumbling around, looking for documents, trying to find a picture, trying to find some old deed or certificate.

What you want to do is make a copy of everything you plan to give to the officer before your interview, because if you’re fumbling around in your folder, looking for documents that just increase the length of your interview and it gives the officer more time to think about questions to ask you. There’s really no benefit to not being prepared. In fact, it can be a great detriment.

The next thing you want to think about is you want to get a good night’s sleep. I know it sounds trite but the average people in America do not get enough sleep, and it can really impact your ability to be awake. Some of these interviews start as early as 7:30 in the morning. If you’re not a morning person you want to make sure a) that you get a good night’s sleep. You go to bed early. You don’t drink any alcohol or do anything silly the night before.

You also want to make sure that you get up early so that you’re awake and invigorated when you go into the interview. You don’t want to be all lethargic and fog-headed. You want to be clear-minded and you want to have the singular focus of answering their questions as truthfully as possible.

The next thing that we tell people is you really want to go to the immigration office before the day of your interview. You want to drive that route. You want to know where you’re going to park and you’re going to want to know what your plan is for the day of. You want to have all your clothes laid out for you and  you want to leave your house with plenty of time for your interview.

I’ve had more than one immigration applicant who has come to their interview late. It’s bad, obviously because it makes the officer upset but more importantly it’s bad because it gets the person being interviewed all discombobulated and upset. You definitely want to give yourself major time ahead of time to get to the interview as soon as possible. I would suggest you arrive thirty minutes early so that you can decompress and focus on the task at hand.

When you’re in the interview itself it’s really important to listen to the questions that are asked and to think about your answer before you respond. You don’t want to just shoot out some answer. You don’t want to blurt things out. No one’s keeping track of how long it took you to think of your answer. As long as you don’t appear evasive.

If you repeat the question out loud it gives you more time to think and you can then answer the question as truthfully and as correctly as you can. You don’t want to give big, long speeches. You don’t want to tell your whole life story. You want to answer the officers question. They’ll appreciate that and it will make your interview go a whole lot smoother.

Remember, too, you don’t want to make any jokes or be silly or smart-aleck or anything in the interview. You want to show respect to the officer. If it’s a spouse interview and you’re doing a green card application you want to make sure that you don’t talk over each other, that you don’t interrupt each other and that you don’t put words in each other’s mouth when you and your spouse are talking.

If the officer’s asking a question of one of you let that one answer and don’t butt in and try to look like you know everything. Show the officer respect they will show you respect. If they get abusive just be quiet and stare at them and let them calm down and then you can go back to telling your story. Don’t let them put words in your mouth. Don’t let them bully you around. Sometimes they’ll try.

The last thing is make sure that you have a clean appearance; that you are well-groomed and that you exude an air of confidence. You have every right to be in that immigration office to ask for the benefit for which you’re seeking. There’s no reason to be nervous. There’s no reason to be worried. If you’ve properly prepared, if you’ve reviewed your application and if you know the answers to the questions that you’ve already given in written form you should be well-suited to pass your interview with flying colors and to get the immigration benefit that you want.

If you have any questions about this or any other aspect of the immigration process feel free to give me a call: 314-961-8200, or you can always shoot me an email at this address: jim@hackinglawpractice.com. We’d be happy to help you out. Thank you.