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The Four Rules to Live By in Immigration Interviews

When I meet with couples to prepare for an adjustment of status interview, I begin by explaining that there are four rules, that if followed will help the interview go off without a hitch.  Though I usually charge for this valuable information, I have decided against my better judgment to share the four rules (I call them the platinum rules) for adjustment interviews that all clients should live by at immigration interviews.

1.     If you do not know the answer to a question the officer asks, or do not remember the answer, say that you do not know or remember – do not guess at the answer.  If you are wrong this could lead to trouble in that the officer may think you are lying if your answer contradicts a prior answer, or the truth.  Officers will not likely hold it against you if you simply can’t remember.  Having a bad memory is not a ground for denying your application.
2.     Do not help each other answer the questions.  Without fail, one person in the relationship will forget an important date, place or name, and the wife will, out of frustration or anger, try to intervene and assist the poor stupid man.  This is a big no-no.  Officers get very annoyed/angry when the person who is asked a question does not answer the question, or gets help from the spouse.  I have seen interviews stopped and spouses separated when one spouse tries to help the other answer a question.  Avoid this like the plague.
3.     Answer only the question you are asked, and do it clearly and concisely.  For instance, if the officer asks what color the sky is, you would answer “blue.”  You would not proceed to ramble on about the different shades of blue, or the pretty color orange the sky often takes at sunset.  If the question an officer asks can be answered by stating either yes, or no, say yes or no.  Officers are not amused by rants.  They have a job to do and people waiting.  Further, the officer is not your priest taking a confession – listen carefully to the question and answer that question.  As a side note, you should have told your attorney everything, and nothing is worse than learning about criminal issues at the interview.
4.     Do not ask the officer questions.  If you do not understand a question, simply state that you do not understand the question.  I was recently in an interview where the officer simply asked the client for his social security number.  The client had previously worked illegally, but at the time had acquired a work permit and a valid social security number.  When the client was asked for his social security number he asked the officer, “Do you want my valid social security number, or the fake one I used before.”  Things did not go smoothly for this client.  DO NOT ASK THE OFFICER QUESTIONS.  Save them for the attorney after the interview is over.


Though these rules may seem like common sense, they need to be respected and reviewed with frequency.  And, of course it is recommended that you have an attorney present at interviews to make sure these rules are followed and to insure the officer is following the law and asking appropriate questions.

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