Should I bring a lawyer to USCIS?
Hi, I’m Jim Hacking immigration lawyer, practicing law throughout the United States at our offices in St. Louis, Missouri, San Diego, California, and one more city, which we will be announcing shortly. In this video, we’re going to talk about Green Card interviews, naturalization interviews, and whether or not you need to bring an attorney. Now, I just had the chance to talk to an attorney about their practice the other day and she said that she is not in the habit of attending her immigration client’s interviews. So, they prepare the case, they get the case out the door and they send it to USCIS and they shepherd it all the way through, but they don’t bring the attorney to the interview. The attorney does not come, the attorney doesn’t charge to come. They just don’t make that part of their practice. So, that was one thing that got me thinking about this.
Another thing that got me thinking about this is one of our YouTube commenters, the YouTube commenter said that their attorney said that they would be available to attend the interview by phone. The attorney was not going to attend the interview face-to-face. The attorney was going to attend by phone, but guess what happened? When the couple arrived at USCIS and the officer dialed the number for the lawyer, the lawyer wasn’t there. And the officer called a few times, and then the officer went ahead with the interview. I don’t know that it went that well. And so I wanted to make this video to talk through with you my thoughts on this. Now certainly, there are a small section, a small segment of interviews, Green Card interviews, or naturalization interviews where it doesn’t really help to have a lawyer.
But I have seen so many videos, because sometimes we get the recordings of interviews, of interviews that have gone poorly, that would have been better if an attorney had been there. The attorney could have objected, the attorney could have brought their client out into the hall to clarify an answer. The attorney could have asked to see a supervisor, the attorney just by being there would have changed the whole dynamic and the power structure of the interview. You know, when you’re in that room, it’s sort of like a blood sport, you’re either going to win or lose and you need to do everything you can within the rules to win the case. And it’s not fun when you lose and having an attorney there with you is going to help you improve your chances of success. There’s just no doubt about it that immigration officers try to get away with more mischief, more shenanigans, more trouble when there’s no attorney there, there’s just no doubt about it.
So, I would push back a little bit on that attorney who says that when she goes, she’s just the highest-paid babysitter on the planet. I disagree. I think that there are subtle things and big things that an attorney can do to help. For instance, if your client’s sort of on the ropes, again, sort of battered, or if something needs to be clarified, or most importantly, if the officer isn’t understanding what the immigrant is saying, or if the immigrant isn’t understanding what the officer is saying, it’s really important that the lawyer jump in. My wife Amany, is a little bit more active in these interviews than I am. But even the simple fact of making sure that the officer knows you’re writing down every single thing that they say, that changes the dynamic, that makes the interview easier. That increases your chances of success.
So, obviously, not everybody can afford to have an attorney and I get that, but if you can afford it, it’s certainly worth your while to try to have an immigration lawyer who knows what they’re doing, join you on the interview. Obviously, it’s not going to be necessary in every single case, but I think in the vast majority of cases, especially if there are any wrinkles, if the person’s out of status, any criminal issues, multiple marriages, all those kinds of things, all the things we talk about on our videos when we’re trying to educate you as to when you might want to hire an attorney, those are the topics that should trigger, “Oh yeah, maybe I should have an attorney come with me.” So, if you have questions about this, or if you’re trying to evaluate what to do, or if you’re thinking about going on an interview by yourself, you might want to rethink that.
And if you decide you want to have an attorney come, give us a call, 314-961-8200, email us firstname.lastname@example.org. Facebook, our Immigrant Home Facebook group. We’d love to have you join us there. We have thousands of members and it’s free. And then our YouTube channel, we add a new video every single day. And we also go there live on Tuesdays and Thursdays, usually at noon central time answering immigration questions live without a net. So we’d love to see you there. Thanks a lot and have a great day.