Should I bring an attorney to my immigration interview? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. Being an immigration lawyer for as long as I have, we get the opportunity from time to time to see videos of interviews that take place without an attorney present. Now, most immigration officers play things pretty straight. They just ask the questions that are on the form, and they don’t try to trick people. But there are a certain subset of immigration officers who really like to wreak havoc and cause trouble.
I was thinking the other day that I had a interview after the election four years ago. And my client was applying for his citizenship. And his interview was like three or four days after the election. This was in 2016. The first question the officer said, “So, who’d you vote for?” I mean, that was the first question out of his mouth. Not, “What’s your name?” He was just acting like he was engaging in conversation, but what he was trying to figure out was whether our client had ever registered to vote or voted. And seeing as this was a naturalization interview, we know for a fact that he wasn’t already a US citizen. So it was a pretty sneaky trick, but that’s mild compared to a lot of the tricks that we’ve seen, both at interviews that we get to see after on video and based on things that our clients or potential clients tell us during consultation.
So we’ve seen them lie to people. We’ve seen them scare them with falsehoods, with false accusations. They try to break people. They try to trick them. And I’m thinking in particular about an officer who recently retired here in St. Louis, because I took her deposition once on a naturalization case. And she said, “You know, Jim, sometimes you just bluff. You don’t know what the immigrant is going to say. So you roll the dice, you take a shot and, you see if they fold.” And I thought that was a revealing comment by her. And I think it also goes to the approach that some officers take.
So, the great benefit of having an immigration lawyer in your interview when you’re trying to get a benefit is that the lawyer knows the law. The lawyer, most likely, and hopefully, knows the law better than the immigration officers. So if things go off the rails, the lawyer can stop the interview and ask for a supervisor. The lawyer can ask you to go outside and discuss something. You can go outside of the little office where you are with the officer. Now I’ve only done that a few times, but sometimes it’s important, especially if you think your client’s getting into areas that might even reveal criminal activity.
So the basic thing that I want you to understand is that immigration is complicated. It’s complex. There are a lot of factors to it. And sometimes when you’re in an interview and questions are coming at you like this, you might not see it coming. And you might not even know where they’re headed. And many times you don’t know what they have. You don’t know what evidence they have, what evidence they’ve developed. You don’t know who they’ve gone out and interviewed, and you don’t know what they’re getting at. So a lawyer should be able to guide you through that, to prepare you for that. And then if things really go badly at the interview, to help protect you.
Now, I’m not making this video to convince you to hire our firm. Obviously, there are immigrants all over the world that watch our videos that never hire us, and that makes me very, very happy, because we want you to be protected. We want you to be safe and we want you to be in the best position possible. So don’t take this video as me just trying to sell our services. If you ever were to need our services and hired us, that would be great, but that’s not why we’re making the video. We’re making the video because if there’s anything questionable in your case, if there any problems in your case, we want to make sure that you get the protection that you need when you go into that interview.
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