What are the insider tips that you give to other lawyers who want to start representing people at the naturalization interview?
Hi, I’m Jim Hacking. Immigration Lawyer practicing law throughout the United States. Had a very interesting morning today. I got to go down to legal services of Eastern Missouri. I was asked to come down and present to a group pf lawyers who’ve decided to volunteer and help represent low income and poor people who are applying for citizenship. They asked me to give a little presentation. I spoke for about an hour and they asked me not to video tape it or to broadcast it over Facebook Live due to some regulator guidelines that they have to follow.
Obviously I was happy to abide by that but I thought why miss out on the information that I provided and why not share it with you my viewers. When lawyers decide that they want to start doing things on a pro bono basis they still owe all the same ethical duties to their clients. Duty of good representation, of competency, so these lawyers came down to legal services for free CLE which is Continuing Legal Education.
Lawyers have to take classes every year and this class was free for them and they learned all the ins and outs of immigration. I gave them a real basic understanding of how the immigration process works, the hierarchy of how you can go from being a non-immigrate visa to and migrate visa with a green card and then to citizenship and all the different pitfalls and problems that arise. We also talked about the four different ways of getting a green card.
Through a spouse or employer, or through the diversity visa or through asylum. I think our audience was very interested in it and I think we really opened a lot of eyes to people. We talked about how we view immigration as more blood sport and not just a nice touchy-feely time for everyone to get along but whether where we are advocating forcefully for our clients just like we would in court. Immigration is not a silly or trivial matter, it’s very serious, it’s very important and we’re talking about people’s lives. We wanted to make sure that these attorneys who are volunteering to get involved with citizenship really understand the importance of what it is that they’re doing.
We talked about how we always encourage our clients to move up the immigration ladder. To take an immigration benefit as soon as they can. When it came to the naturalization interview itself and the N-400 we really wanted o emphasize a couple of things. 1. Citizenship and the interview is really the last chance the immigration service has to decide whether or not someone gets to stay in the country or not. Once they’re naturalized it’s very difficult to denaturalize and to take away their citizenship and it’s almost impossible to deport them unless they have first stripped someone of their citizenship. This is a huge undertaking. It involves filing suit in federal court.
This is really the immigration services last opportunity to weigh in on whether someone deserves to stay in the United States. We also talked about how, while the N-400 can appear deceptively simple, it looks like a straight forward form, we wanted to makes sure that these attorneys understood that each of the questions is related to specific area of the law and regulation or provision and statute that would prevent someone from being able to get their citizenship.
For instances, there’s a statutory requirement that a naturalization candidate show that they’ve been a person of good moral character for five years. There are a series of questions that are devoted to that question. There’s also questions terrorism. There’s a lot of questions that may seem silly but we made sure that the attorneys understood that they have to go through each of the questions carefully with their clients. We also emphasize how a lot of clients really want to get the thing filed as quickly as possible. We encourage these newer attorneys to the immigration realm that they really need to take their time and make sure they have a good conversation with their client.
Naturalization is important. It’s very nerve-racking for the clients and it’s very emotional when it gets approved. We talked about the human aspect of it too. We talked about how in St. Louis we have a lot of refugees and that’s sort of the clientele of people who are getting citizenship cases filed on a pro bono basis would come from. We talked about how these people might not be traditionally comfortable with dealing with government officials. Back in their home country they weren’t able to leave an interview if they wanted to or they weren’t able to not answer questions.
We really want to make sure that the attorneys understood that they’re dealing with people and you have to take the people as they come and look at them as a whole. So we really emphasize both the legal aspects of it but we also talked about practical things. The kinds of things we tell our clients to do and not to do in the interview. No jokes, no sarcasm, just listen to the questions asked and not give a big long tale. Just answer the questions truthfully.
If they have any questions about what kind of an answer to give, to always tell the truth. We think our attorney friends that attended the session got a lot out of it today. We hope that this summary interested you and let you know what it is that we look out for in the N-400 naturalization context. If you do have any questions feel free to give us a call at 314-961-8200 or you can email me [email protected]. If you like this video be sure to like it below and subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you get updates whenever we make new videos. Thanks a lot.