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Always Tell the Truth, But Don’t Offer Stuff

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What’s the best way to handle a sticky situation at USCIS? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. Sticky situations, sticky situations at USCIS. What do I mean by that? Well, what I mean is that when you apply for an immigration benefit, sometimes you have things in your past or you have answers that you need to give to questions and you’re wondering, how am I going to handle this sticky situation? It’s a sensitive subject. It’s something that I’m sort of ashamed of or something that isn’t the best thing that I ever did. And I thought I’d shoot this video to tell you what I tell my clients in those sticky situations.

If you have something in your past or if there’s a question that you’re worried about now, number one, there’s no substitute to talking to an immigration lawyer and making sure that you get good advice on your questions. But if there’s a question or if there’s a topic that you think is sensitive and you’re worried about answering, here’s what you need to keep in mind. Two things. Number one, always tell the truth. If the topic comes up, you have to be honest, you have to answer yes or no if the question is asked. That’s the most important thing because a lot of times we’ve seen cases where people did have a sticky situation or a sensitive topic and they didn’t disclose it and then they get denied for the benefit because they supposedly lied to USCIS. You don’t want to ever get hit with a lie or accused of being a liar at USCIS.

But the second thing is that goes right along with it. Number two is this, that you need to not fall on the sword. You don’t need to offer the information up unless it is asked. I’ve seen people come in interviews and they’re all like all nervous and scared and worried and they just can’t wait to get this negative thing, this sticky situation, this story off their chest. And that’s not the right way to do it. The right way to do it is to listen to the question and then pause and think about the answer to the question. And again, always lean on telling the truth. But if it’s something where they didn’t ask the question clearly, or if you can honestly say that, I can say no to that question, then you should do that. You need to be smart. And again, this emphasizes why you need to talk to an immigration lawyer.

We’re always going to tell the truth, but we’re not going to offer things up. We’re not going to come in there and say, “Hey, let me tell you about that third DUI I had.” Unless they ask about all of your DUIs. Or you’re not going to talk about the time that you spanked your kid or you don’t need to just offer up the tale of this drunken night that you had at a casino. You only want to tell them what they ask. And so it’s very important, you sort of want to develop a rhythm. Question, pause, answer. You don’t want to just go in there, go, “Oh my God, you won’t believe it. I can’t. I’m really sorry. I’m so ashamed. I’m not like that anymore. Oh my God, I really am sorry that happened. It’ll never happen again. I’m going to be a good citizen or I’m going to be a good lawful permanent resident.” That’s not how you’re supposed to do it. Breathe in. Listen and think. And then go ahead and answer the question.

Those are my two rules for getting ready for an interview. Always tell the truth, but don’t offer up things that you don’t have to offer up. You’re not there as a sacrificial lamb. You’re just there to answer their questions honestly. Do it honestly but if you can avoid answering things or if you can avoid bringing up topics that are source of just, oh my God, my mother sued me, you wouldn’t believe it. Or oh my God, I’m behind on my taxes. If they ask if you’re behind on your taxes, you have to tell them. But I hope this message is coming through. I’ve tried to use some examples, some real-world examples so that you get a good understanding of what I’m talking about.

If you have questions about this or if you’re getting ready to go through the immigration process and you need some help, give us a call at (314) 961-8200. You can email us at info@hackinglawpractice.com. Be sure to join us in our Facebook group, which is called Immigrant Home. And if you like this video, please be sure to share it out on social and subscribe to our YouTube or LinkedIn so that you get updates whenever I make videos just like this one. Thanks a lot. Have a great day.

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