Why do I have to be precise with the words that I use at immigration?
Hi, I’m Jim hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. I was speaking to a young man the other day in an immigration consult and he had an upcoming naturalization interview, but he also had an arrest and an appearance, several appearances in court, and he was being very sloppy with his language.
What do I mean by that? Well, he wasn’t being precise, and precision in language is very important in immigration. I’ve made other videos about this, but I just wanted to shoot this video to bring home the point. So he was just sort of shooting off at the mouth, oh yeah, I got arrested, but it got dismissed and then it got sealed, so therefore, nothing to see here. Well, I kept pushing back and I kept trying to drill down.
I was imagining or pretending that I was an immigration officer. And that’s what you need to do if you’re answering questions or getting ready for a USCIS interview. You have to say to yourself, what questions are the officer’s going to ask? And they’re not just going to take your conclusory summaries and say, oh, well he said it was dismissed, so I don’t need to dig down any further.
No, they’re going to ask you, did you go to the police station? Did the police fingerprint you? Did the police take your mugshot? Did the police issue you a court appearance? Did you go to court? Did you hire a lawyer? Did you stand in front of a judge? Did you have a jury? Did you have a trial? Was there a verdict? What was the verdict? What was the sentence? Did you have to go to jail? Did you have to do community service? What was the outcome?
So you can’t just go into immigration and say, oh yeah, I lost my job and, yeah, there was something going on there but, you know, it’s not really important for immigration. Well, what was it? What did you do? Why did you get fired? Did you commit fraud of some sort? So, you have to be ready for these detailed questions.
You can’t just go in there sort of, uh, uh, I’m going to figure it out on the fly while I’m there. No, you need to really sit down and figure out where are the vulnerabilities in my case? Where are the problems in my case and what can I do to be fully educated and an advocate for myself? And so you need to practice. I mean, you can’t just try to wing it at immigration. You need to be able to say your answers, say them concisely, and then be quiet.
So you don’t want a big long rambling explanation. You’re not talking to your best friend, you’re not talking to your mother, you’re talking to an agent of the federal government and they take their job very seriously, as well they should. So make sure that if you’re talking about things in your past, that you are very precise with your language. Be deliberate. Use the right words.
I know it’s hard because English isn’t everybody’s number one language so if that’s the case, then you might think about needing a lawyer because the lawyer’s going to be able to advocate for you, the lawyer is going to be able to explain in short, concise sentences why you are deserving of the immigration benefit and what happened with these various legal issues in your past.
So in this video, I really just want you to learn, be precise, be concise, don’t give big long speeches and just answer the questions as short and honestly as you can.
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