Perhaps you applied for residency through a spouse, are applying for asylum, or are ready to become a naturalized United States citizen. Whatever the case may be, you will likely have an interview with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”).
Below are five tips to make your interview easier!
1. Practice, Practice, Practice
Most applicants feel some type of anxiety, stress or nervousness about their interview. While it is normal to feel that way, one of the best ways to overcome those feelings is to know what to expect. By practicing for the interview, you will likely feel more relaxed and prepared.
If you hired an attorney to help you with your application, it may be a good idea to reach out to them and set up a time to practice. However, even if you hired an attorney, you are responsible for knowing all of the information that you submitted. This means you should review every single question and answer, as well as any evidence you submitted to support your application. It’s possible that some of the answers have changed since you submitted the application, for example, if you moved, this is fine. It’s important to be ready to update the immigration officer at your interview.
If you are applying for naturalization, it’s extremely important to study and practice the civics exam questions. https://www.uscis.gov/citizenship/learners/study-test.
If you are a Spanish speaker, some great resources are available here: https://www.uscis.gov/es/recursos/recursos-relacionados-la-ciudadania-y-la-naturalizacion/el-examen-de-naturalizacion-materiales-de-estudio.
By reviewing your application, and practicing answering questions, you may feel more at ease and less stress during the actual interview.
2. Listen to the Question Being Asked
While it sounds simple, applicants often struggle with answering the question directly. Oftentimes, an applicant will answer with irrelevant information with the actual answer somewhere inside. Below is an example of not answering the question directly:
Q: “Where do you live?”
A: “Well, I used to live at 123 Grove St., before that I lived at 123 State St., and now I just moved to 123 University St. about a month ago”
In order to answer the question directly, an applicant must listen to the entire question being asked of them. Then, take a moment to think about the answer to that question only. If the immigration officer wants to know more than your answer, they will ask you another question. Below is an example of answering the question directly:
Q: “Where do you live?”
A: “I live at 123 University Street.”
3. Answer Honestly
Sometimes, an immigration officer may ask you a question to which you may not know or remember the answer. In these situations, it’s extremely important to answer honestly, rather than to lie or guess. If you do not remember the answer, such as the date of something, it is best to say “I do not remember.” The officer may ask you for an estimate, which you should answer if you do have an estimate. Again, if you do not remember an estimate, answer “I do not remember.”
If you do not understand the question, it’s best to say “I don’t understand.” The immigration officer will rephrase the question until you understand what they are asking. If you understand the question, but do not know the answer, it’s best to reply “I do not know. In addition to honesty, it is extremely important to always answer the immigration officer’s questions respectfully. Being rude will likely only hurt your case.
4. Be Timely
You should have an interview notice with the date, location and time on it. The time listed is when you should be prepared to be sitting in the interview. This means you should get to the interview at least thirty minutes early, depending on the location, to have enough time to go through security and check in. If you are late, it is possible that you will miss your interview, and your application may be denied.
5. Dress Appropriately
Your interview is your chance to make a great impression on the immigration officer. This is an important and formal interview, so we advise you dress nicely if you are able. For example, wear clothing you would wear to a job interview.
These five tips are an overview on preparing for an interview with USCIS. If you have more questions, please come see our office with any questions other you may have. Our office is located at: 200 University Avenue W., Suite 200, St. Paul, MN 55103. We can be reached by phone at: (651) 771-0019.