If you are seeking U.S. citizenship or permanent residence (“green card”), you will likely find yourself sitting in a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) interview at some point. While these interviews can be stressful enough, failing to fully prepare can make a difficult process even more nerve-wracking—or worse, cause your citizenship or permanent residence application to be denied. Avoid many common pitfalls of applicants seeking citizenship or permanent residence by following these simple steps before your interview.
Gather your documents
The first step in preparing for your USCIS interview is to gather all of your relevant documents. These will include any documents proving your identity such as birth certificates and passports. You may also need copies of any government-issued documents you have obtained while living in the United States, as well as any financial documents, like bank statements. If you are seeking a green card through marriage, then a copy of your marriage certificate will also be necessary.
Study your documents
Once you have gathered your documents, look them over a few times. Pay close attention to dates and other pertinent information that you may be asked about during the interview. Questions such as “When did you first come to the United States?” or “What city were you born in?” may sound easy, but you may arouse suspicion if you find yourself making mistakes or struggling to answer them. Whether it is because you are nervous or forgot the answers or any other factor, studying your documents and your immigration history will put you more at ease when it comes time to the interview. Be sure to review any family and employment history that may be relevant to your interview as well.
Arrange for an interpreter
Even if you speak English, an interpreter may be helpful if you are not yet able to have complex conversations or find yourself misunderstanding words and phrases. An interpreter can assist in ensuring that your interview flows smoothly and without any miscommunication.
Prepare with your spouse
If you are seeking permanent residence through marriage, then reviewing and preparing with your spouse for the interview is very important. Discuss important dates to make sure there are no discrepancies (e.g., saying you got married on March 3rd vs. May 3rd). It is crucial for the both of you to go over key details of your relationship—such as how you met and other details the interviewer may ask you about. Don’t assume the both of you will have the exact same recollection of events. It is better to go over the finer points and be absolutely sure. After all, a lot is dependent on this interview. Both of you have to be sure there are no inconsistencies in your story.
Plan your interview day ahead of time
Although it may seem like the least challenging aspect of the process, proper planning is the key to success in your USCIS interview. Research how long it will take you and your spouse to arrive at the USCIS office. Plan to arrive 30 minutes to one hour before your interview and take into account any traffic delays to give yourself extra time.
Carefully choose which outfit you will wear and ensure you have appropriate clothing—dress as if you are going on a job interview. Be sure to arrange for transportation if you do not have your own vehicle or check public transportation schedules.
At Saleh and Associates, we recognize the challenges of applying for legal status in the U.S. If you have an immigration interview coming up, you don’t have to face it alone. Give our knowledgeable and friendly attorneys a call to discuss your interview and any questions you may have. And, if you think your case may involve some complexities, let us represent you on one of the most important days of your life.