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9 DO’s and DON’TS for a Successful Green Card Interview

Are you going in for a green card interview? Nervous? In this video, immigration attorney, Andres Mejer, shares 9 DO’s and DONT’s everyone who has a Green Card or AOS (adjustment of status) interview should know. Watching this video will help calm your nerves and prepare you for the interview.

Transcript (Transcripción):

Andres Mejer :Welcome to the English version of our radio program, Para Ser Legal. Today, I’m going to cover three topics about your Green Card interview that everyone wants to know. Nine things to do at your interview. Nine things not to do at your interview.

Andres Mejer :So number one is a background search. As I indicated before, if you have an attorney, you have to be 100 percent honest about your past. If you’re not, look at that. An attorney can’t accurately determine your possibility of success. If you’re lying to him or her.

Andres Mejer :That is why we do a full background search for every client that includes FBI records, motor vehicle commission records and FOIA inAll seven immigration agencies. I want to know what the government knows about you. Look, if you’re charged with a DUI, you’re convicted of a DUI that may not come out in FBI search, but it will come in New Jersey, will come out in a motor vehicle search because it’s a traffic violation in New Jersey. It’s really important that you have that you know your entries and your exits, your arrests, information like that can make the difference in approval or denial. So one is a background search.

Andres Mejer :Two is prepare. This means you need to review the application before you show up at the interview. You need to review any supporting documents that you submit to USCIS. If you’re applying for a Green Card because of a marriage to a U.S. citizen or green card holder, make sure you can both answer commonly asked questions like, you know, who sleeps on what side of the bed? Who got up first? Who showers? Do they floss? When did you last go out to dinner? What did you do last night? How did you get here? You know, basic things like that. You should be able to answer Now attending the interview. Number three, get there early. I recommend 30 minutes early to interview Now. Last Thursday I showed up at three interviews in Mt. Laurel one day and one of my clients showed up an hour and a half early. Now. I was there because I was with another attorney. I’m sorry, I was with another client, but an hour and a half is a little too much. 30 minutes is five more than you need because you never know about traffic and you never know how hard it will be to find a parking spot.

Andres Mejer :4. Dress to impress. I recommend you wear your Sunday. Best luck. You going to go to church for what you’ll wear to a job interview? 5. Don’t guess. Make sure you understand every question that is asked before answering it. If you aren’t sure, ask the officer to repeat the question or to rephrase it. 6. Answer only the question asked. For example, if the officer asks you what time is it? You look at your watch and you say, Oh gee, it’s 6 46 p.m. You don’t just just go on and say, well, it’s a beautiful day outside, you know, while 6:46 brings you back memories. I remember when I had again, he just asked you one question. Stop talking. Wait for the next question. 7 Honesty really is the best policy. Look, I tell my clients it is hard work to lie. You have to remember how you answered a particular question each and every time you know, they ask you more than once. If you’re honest, you need to remember you’re just being honest. Remember, USCIS shares information with other government entities. So if you entered the U.S. illegally, they probably know if you came in more than once. They probably know, if you are arrested for a crime. They probably know or maybe you answered a visa application. Definitely in the way you’re answering Now. It’s a you you filed for a tourist visa, you entered the U.S. and now you’re your spouse is filing for you. Well, information that you filed on that application is fair game. Like if you said you were married when you actually weren’t. And now it used to be you say this is your first marriage, you’re going to have a problem. Now number eight, make eye contact with the officer. Look, I know in some cultures this may seem disrespectful, but in the US, those who don’t make eye contact are more likely to be considered dishonest or untrustworthy. So just make eye contact.

Andres Mejer :9. Know your dates and names if you’re applying for a marriage application. When you met, when you get engaged, when you got married, your spouse’s birthday. Listen, if you know this stuff, it makes you a good husband or wife. Forgetting? It has consequences. But forgetting at the interview might make it seem like you don’t know you’re not really into him. Or maybe the relationship is not real. You should also know the names of your spouse’s siblings and parents. Now they might even ask you what you did last weekend. So be sure you both know basic information about each other. Does my wife have siblings? Where? What do they do? Where do they live? What are their ages? What about parents? Are they alive? But they know where they live. Yes. Basic information that if you know , if your’e together with somebody for any length of time, youre going to know.

Andres Mejer :Now 9. Things not to do at an interview. Don’t miss the appointment. I know. And that should be an obvious one. You can’t get approved if you don’t show up. Matter of fact, if you don’t show up, you can be denied. And today, denial means putting removal proceedings. So don’t miss your appointment. Second, don’t be late. You know, if you show up late, you may miss like in Mt. Laurel. They’re very structured, so they’ll try to accommodate you, but they may not be able to you may be waiting there for hours and then maybe they may notice you to come back a different day.

Andres Mejer :3. Don’t bring children unless they are from the marriage and it’s really necessary. Look, I’ve had applications granted just because of the children. But remember, you can be seen there for hours if they’re young kids. They may not want to sit still for long. And it’ll it’ll just stress you out more. So think twice before you bring your kids 4. Don’t give information you aren’t asked. 5. If you don’t know the answer to the question, don’t guess. Tell them you don’t know if they separate you, which sometimes happens and you and your spouse give different answers. This is going to be worse for you than if you just say you don’t know. Don’t give the officer what you think he or she wants. Number 6. Don’t ramble on. Keep your answers short and concise. If they ask you a question, you can answer yes or no. Do so and stop. 7. Don’t give USCIS your original documents. You might not get those back. If they ask to see the original, give it to them. Actually, you should bring a copy with you, but give your originals back before you go.

Andres Mejer :8.  Don’t argue with the officer. You’re not. You know it’s not going to be respectful unless they’re overly confrontational. And if that’s the case, you ask for a supervisor. Better yet, have your attorney do that. 9. Don’t take how they talk to you or act personally. Some people feel like if the answer doesn’t smile or ask them how they are, they’ve already decided to deny that. The officer has many things that they’re doing for their job and how they act may have nothing to do with you. People have bad days. Now it may be you, but you can’t change them. Reacting negatively just because they’re not friendly won’t help your case. Be professional. Be polite even when they’re not.

Andres Mejer :Now, since we have some additional time, let me tell you about two interviews I had just last Thursday in Mt. Laurel. So last Thursday I had three interviews. The first, it was a family based petitions, legitimate marriage, been together for 10 years, married for 10 years. She’s from. She’s Jamaican national. He’s African-American. It’s both their second marriages for both of them. They have no no children in common. It and it was as. Clear a petition as you can get. The marriage was legitimate. There was a lot of proof, those thoughts and information. She entered illegally. But because someone applied for her before 2001, her ex-husband, she qualified for the Life Act. I-245i which means they would have waived her illegal entry.

Andres Mejer :But they asked her, how many times have you come to United States? She said one said, well, then asked how many attempts? Well, she said twice. Now that I asked the same question. She didn’t share that with me. They asked more. What do you mean? Well, I entered 1992, and since then I stayed. But I did try before they working. Tell me about it. I honestly don’t remember. I think it was around Florida when I tried to enter. And I don’t know what happened. It was 40 years ago. Now, if she’s from Jamaica, chances are she came by plane. They send her back chances are they send her by plane. Then she would have gotten deported. Now we did a background search and that did not come up in my search. I even requested documents from migration and I I found no evidence of that. So I asked the officer, hey, by the way, you haven’t. Did you find any documentation about that? Because I did a FOIA. And I found zero. They could not make a decision and my client had not been completely honest with me.

Andres Mejer :Now, will she be approved? I don’t know. It all depends. Look, even if she had an order of deportation, we can fix it.

Andres Mejer : It must be said more expensive and more complicated and we would have done it differently. That’s why it’s really important to be honest with your attorney. They can’t give you the right advice and they can’t implement the right plan if they don’t have the right information.

Andres Mejer :An elderly couple, husband and wife. He’s 85 years old. She’s 74. They’re both from Colombia. They they both had their Green Card over 15 years. Their son was a U.S. citizen, applied for them and they’ve been here. Like I said over 15 years.

Andres Mejer :Now husband is deaf in his left ear. No, I’m sorry. Deaf in his right ear and has a hearing aid in his left ear because of their age and the length of time that they’ve had their Green Card. They could do the interview for the citizenship in their own language. This case Spanish. And I was really worried because I know that in Mt. Laurel they use the language line and my client’s hard of hearing. So. And he’s also 85 years old. So we go to the interview, we go with the officer. And the officer was very patient, who was very considerate, explained the questions more than once. And the husband passed like, hallelujah. I thought this will be difficult. Now understand what I mean? Difficult. It’s not because of their circumstances. They had no stays in the U.S. more in six months. They had no criminal record whatsoever. They had no back taxes. They no child support. You know, they didn’t have to speak the language and they’ve been studying the material so they could answer the questions even though it was in Spanish. This was as clean cut a case as you can find. The only difficulty is one, the language barrier. And number two, each and hearing aids. And I was really worried about that because speaker phones suck. There’s no two ways about it. You know, it’s not always easy to understand. And the translator sometimes has a thick accent or sometimes. Well, listen, I mean, I speak Spanish. So if someone speaks from Mexico, Spanish speaker from Mexico or Argentina or Chile or Uruguay, I mean, they’re all a little bit different, but they’re understandable. But sometimes the slang is different and it can be a problem in some circumstances.

Andres Mejer :So I was really worried, but with the husband, it went great. No, the problems with the wife.

Andres Mejer :She’s not hard of hearing. She’s 9 years younger. Here’s the problem. We went in. She’s sitting like we’re right in front of me. And the phone for the trend that the officer uses is six feet away. I said, Officer, can you move the phone over? I said, I can’t. And fortune goes. It doesn’t go anywhere. I said, listen, I don’t I don’t know about you, but I’m a little concerned that she’s not going to hear the translator.

Andres Mejer :Translators not going to  hear her. I said, you know what, let’s give it a try.

Andres Mejer :And we did. And it just wasn’t working. So, Officer, that’s the second time. He only translated half of what she said. How do I know this? Because I’m bilingual. I speak Spanish. If I was it, I’d have a problem. But I understood what was being said, what she said. And I was told that he wasn’t translating it all. So she said, well, you know what, counselor? I’m going to three schedules for another dayl. Hold on a second. We’re here now. They’re traveling outside the country to attend a wedding. It’s really. And they have an appointment to get their passports tomorrow. Please, let’s try and do this today. She said, honestly, I don’t see how I can’t. So she escorted us out. I asked to speak to the officer. I explained the situation to the officer. Officer. Hold on to see what I could do. The officer then came came back. Sorry. The supervisor brought the officer back in the officer. said you know what? I’m. She spoke to I.T. and they’re going to give her a longer court. Wait a couple of minutes. Fantastic. We did 10 minutes go by. She brings us back in. We call the translator. There is no translators available. Like, you gotta be kidding me. So, listen, what can we do? She’s a guy to know. I have no choice but to give. to notice you for another date. So I went out. I asked to speak to the supervisor again and I said, listen, here’s a situation. How can we solve this? And here’s what he did. He said, you know what? Let’s find an officer that speaks Spanish. I’m like, fantastic. That’s what I had in mind. But I wanted the idea to come from him, not for me. And he came to it on his own without me suggesting it, which was fantastic. So they put us in front of a officer who immigrated from Argentina. Her Spanish was flawless. It went super fast. And all of a sudden, my client was much more animated, speaking my language, answering the questions, and things went great. She got approved. And they are, I believe, on Friday or Saturday. They got their passports. They are both now U.S. citizens. Now this again, this was as clean cut as a petition as you could find. If you had asked me, does this person do these people need an attorney to go with them? I would have said no. The only reason to do it was because the son was nervous because of their age, didn’t know how they would react. He wanted them to be comfortable. And I went there just for their comfort. I can’t remember the last time I had just had to ask for a supervisor twice on the same case. It happened. We made it work. But I would never have known again. It’s why I say the being an attorney. No, they didn’t. But it’s a good thing they had one because otherwise they would not have been approved and certainly not in the time that they did.

Andres Mejer :So thank you for tuning in. I’m Andrés Mejer. If you have any questions. Put them down the comments below. Please subscribe to a channel so that you can be kept up to date on the latest happenings in immigration. Until next time I’m on this method. Have a good day.