Interviewing at USCIS

In this video, immigration attorney, Andres Mejer, explains exactly what you can expect when you have an interview at USCIS in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey for a green card.

Transcript (Transcripción):

Andres Mejer:  Good morning. My name is on this method. Today going to talk about what to do at a family based interview in Mt. Laurel. What to prepare, what to wear, what what questions you’re gonna be asked, how you’re gonna get there, what’s the process, we’re going to walk what’s the role of the attorney, do you need an attorney, who can come with you? All of this and more we’re going to discuss in today’s episode  

Andres Mejer:  What to do. If you have an interview in Mt. Laurel. 

Andres Mejer:  So now there’s a number of different interviews you might have. It could be Green Card process which is what we’re talking about today where your wife or your parent or your child over 21 filed for you. You could also have a marriage of short duration so you got a temporary Green Card good for two years and you then have to apply to remove those conditions or you’re applying for citizenship. So Green Card process remove conditions of the Green Card parole in place because you have found no in the military or citizenship are the most common reasons to have an interview in Mt. Laurel. That’s why they usually have two units the adjustment unit which is the Green Card unit and the naturalization unit which is for citizenship. This assumes obviously that you have a valid claim. So I hope you met with an attorney the attorney filed the petition and evaluate your situation and came to the conclusion that yes you can adjust. Yes you can you Green Card. So for purposes of today we’re talking about specifically a family based petitions specifically spousal petition. So I’m an immigrant. I was born in Chile Santiago, Chile my wife’s a U.S. citizen she was born in Pennsylvania. She’s applying to me. I entered legally. That’s the scenario where we’re talking about. You filed a petition within two weeks. You’re going to get a receipt notice saying thank you for your payment within two weeks you can get a biometric notice they fingerprint you. And then within five to six months thereafter you’re going to get a notice to go in Mt. Laurel now Mt. Laurel deals with South Jersey and Central Jersey. Newark deals with Northern Jersey. That may change at any moment. They are talking about changing it but for now you’re noticed in Mt. Laurel 532 fellowship road. How are you going to get there. Well you’re going to take a turnpike exit 4, you’re going to follow signs from 73 north. You take that for about a quarter mile and you’re gonna make a right at Fellowship road. The USCIS Office will be about two blocks down the road on the right. What to wear. So very important. Wear your best. Wear your Sunday best. Wear what you would wear to go to an interview. You know I wouldn’t show up in bathing suit and flip flops. But look you only have a certain amount of time to make a first impression. It’s important that you make a good first impression. Who should come with you. Well whoever petition for you if you’re the immigrant we’re a petition for you must be there. That’s your wife. She needs to come with you. If it’s your parents they need to be there with your child. They need to be whoever was the petitioner in your petition must be with you at the interview. If you don’t they’re going to deny you or they’ll adjourn it. So just last week I had a scenario, son applied for mom, sons a U.S. citizen. He had him. He had a medical issue. He was unable to show up. Mom was there. I was there son was not. We had to get an attorney because otherwise I would’ve just denied it. And we don’t we definitely don’t want to do that. Now your attorney should be with you kids. Well it depends. Sometimes kids are very helpful meaning if it’s a family based petition where my wife filed for me and I have two kids. If she’s filing for us for me I would want my kids there. Why. Because it’s a proof that it’s a bonafide relationship. Now for immigration purposes. We can go in front of a judge I’m married tomorrow we’ll take 72 hours but you get what I mean. I can show I can show up and I’m married. That doesn’t mean the relationship is legitimate immigrations eyes. I must prove it beyond. Why must I must prove that it’s a legitimate relationship not just a legal relationship. And generally speaking if I’m in a sham marriage if I ask someone to do me a favor or I paid someone to do that for me I’m not going to have kids with him or her as well. So it’s proof that it’s a legitimate relationship. So kids are usually helpful. You don’t need to bring an interpreter for this one you’re not even allowed to nowadays. You know they will. Immigration USCIS if you need an interpreter they’ll bring someone through language line. They will not let you or your attorney petition. They will not let your relative translate for you know your attorney translate for you because the officer is concerned that maybe your coaching that coaching you that telling you how to answer questions rather than translating. Now you never know who speaks your language or not. I don’t look Hispanic and yet I am I’m a fluent Spanish speaker. That’s also true for some USCIS officers. Now some of them clearly speak with an accent. You have a pretty good indication what their mother language was. But you never know how many languages they speak. You’d be surprised at the number of officers that speak some level of Spanish. So if someone is coaching you they’re going to know don’t take the chance just don’t do it when the. Well you should. You should plan on getting there 30 minutes early first. You never know how traffic is going to be. Secondly arriving early gives you an opportunity to talk to your attorney to see if you have any questions before your interview. Don’t be late. You don’t want to risk a denial, show up on time show up early. Immigration will typically take you on time within 15 to 30 minutes late. If you arrive late. Guess what. If you have a 10 30 appointment you show up at 11 30. They may fit you in but it may not be until after lunch. You will need ID to enter the building like any federal building. Driver’s license, passport, birth certificates not  gonna cut it. It needs to be a picture I.D. and you must have your notice with you. So you’re going to go to the building you’re going to knock on the door. Now it’s glass but it’s not see through glass. They only fit three or four people in the security area. So you’re going to be waiting outside until there’s room for you. Once you come in. Also we’ll give you certain instructions. You’re going to go through a metal detector. You’re going to have to take off your jacket your belt. Take all everything out of your pockets take off your shoes. I shouldn’t tell you what you need to but you know no weapons are allowed. No drugs are allowed. Be very careful. I won’t even bring a bottle of water. So once you get through security if you have an attorney an attorney from Andres Mejer Law will meet you in that area, typically not outside but inside. If you have an attorney don’t go check in wait for your attorney or speak to your attorney if he or she is late and you’re gonna be considerably late. Call the office if you can’t get a hold of them. Only then do you go to the officer and say I’m here my attorney is not. Super important. You don’t go into the interview without your attorney. What’s happening now. Sometimes we have three people three clients with the same exact interview time. All three ar nine thirty. Obviously I can’t be with all three at the same time. It’s ridiculous. If I’m with somebody and it’s not you you wait until I’m done. I don’t mean that rudely or anything else. I can’t protect you if I’m not in the room. You typically will wait 15 minutes to 60 Minutes again if you show up on time. They’ll take you on time for the most part. If you show up late. I don’t know when they’re going to see you. Where are you interviewed. You’ve now come in you’ve been through security. You met the attorney. The attorney took two notice or went to the window informed the clerk that the petitioner is there, which the person who applied for you, the beneficiaries there, which is you getting the benefit, and the attorney is there. All ready to go waiting for the interview. Then we go back into the seating area. Officer will come out and we’ll ask Mejer, Fernandez, whatever your last name is they’ll call you out. Then you go. The officer will bring you through the door and we’ll take you to his or her office. Typically we’ll close the door. Usually you you the beneficiary the person, the immigrant receiving the benefit will sit right in front of the officer to the person to your left will be the person who applied for you to your right would typically be your attorney. I mean every office is a little bit differently depends on the makeup they’re not all identical but that’s pretty much the layout officer is going to swear you in. Tell you everything you say is that true. So help you God and then you the God part anymore. They are going to check you didn’t take your photo. They’re going to check your right index finger and your left index finger to make sure you’re the same person that did the biometrics. You’re the same person that is looking to see the benefit. They will review your documents driver’s license passport again just to make sure that you are who you say you are. I understand you may come from different cultures. But in the U.S. it’s really important you make eye contact if the officers look is actually in your question they’re evaluating how you’re behaving how you’re sitting are you squirming or you’re not are you making eye contact. Aren’t you. All of those are signs of that they’re going to interpret as to credibility. Now if you’re constantly looking a different direction you won’t make eye contact. Well. Depending on the on where the officer is from they may see that as you’re lying or you don’t believe what you’re saying. So super important you come in you shake your hand you make eye contact. Every culture is different. I know in some Asian countries that they do the exact opposite. Now historically in Mt. Laurel officer would review your file and your submissions before interviewing you. That would that gives them a sense of well OK. Do I have a lot of proofs here. Am I concerned about fraud and my concern that this is a legitimate relationship to legitimate marriage or I have no such concern. But nowadays given the volume of interviews that they’re having I’m seeing more and more officers who have never looked at your documents before you walk into the room. That’s not the way it should be in my view. But unfortunately.It is a reality. So you must know your file. It’s important that it is organized. You should have a table of contents. You should have it page number. You should know what documents you submitted and where you can find them. Here are the photos in the photos show who’s in the photo. When was the photo taken. We don’t need three underpayment photos of your wedding day. That’s one day we want not say 300 but we may want 50, from the day you met the day you got engaged,till you got married, til the day the year before that. What we do is just make the laws. We show your whole story at the end of day. I see my role as a storyteller. I am telling the story of your life and your spouse’s life until they came together really important. You know what you submitted because the officer won’t. Lately. Will you be interviewed together?

Andres Mejer: Well it really depends on the facts of your case. Generally if you’ve properly documented your file. The two, you and your husband will be. Interviewed together. If they separate you it’s likely because they’re suspecting fraud. If they separate you they’re going to ask you a set of questions. Then they’re going to ask your spouse the same set of questions. Or similar and see are your answers the same if they’re different. If they’re sufficiently different, they might deny you. For example if you don’t know your spouse’s parents names or their siblings and you don’t know their their date of birth, their birthday, where, who who sleeps on what side of the bed, how you guys you know if you don’t know certain basic questions it’s a high likelihood that your petition will be denied. You have an attorney your attorney would have should have reviewed your situation before it was filed should have reviewed it with you again before you went for the interview in case you need to supplement documentation. Look. Nowadays I have some cases where the interview is almost a year after we submitted the documents so. We may need to supplement. Maybe they met abroad. It just came into the United States or I just filed for my wife my father. My wife just entered the United States. We are now going through the Green Card process. We don’t have a lot of time that we’ve been together, married cohabiting before. We did the application. Maybe she was in college abroad so now she came in and now we’re living together almost a year has gone by. We now have a lot more evidence that our, about our life together than we had when we initially filed. So I will supplement it. 

Andres Mejer: There are certain circumstances that you are more likely to be separated if you’re in removal proceedings and your marriage happened after the initiated removal. You have a higher burden of proof proof you will likely be separated. If you already have an order of removal. Again there’s a higher likelihood that you will be separated. What the answer in the interview. The truth you should answer the truth as best as you can remember it. Don’t make it up because you think the officer wants to hear it. If you don’t remember say so. If you don’t understand the question say so. If the translator is not clear say so. Super important you’re going to judge based on what you say. If you didn’t understand the question, afterwards is not helpful. Just be honest. If you’re struggling because you’re unsure of what’s going on your attorney will likely clarify it for you. If you don’t have an attorney you run the risk. There is something in your past that can result in a denial. Your petition today denied your petition means being placed in removal proceedings unless you have legal status currently. So I get a number of people say well look I’m a student, should I. but my my wife filed for me, should I renew my student visa or should I just let it lapse? Don’t let anything lapse. You never know file before your status runs out or file to extend that status. Super important that you remain in legal status while you’re filing for your Green Card. 

Andres Mejer: Now, If it turns out there was a mistake in the petition, for example, let’s just say your date of birth is March 6. So in the United States you write it 3 slash 6 slash year, if you’re from Mexico for example you would write 6 which for them. Is the date then the month. Date month year which actually makes sense. Smallest to the greatest but because here in the US we do everything backwards. You thought you wrote the 6th of March, when in reality you wrote the 3rd of June. So that in anything else you want to amend. You will have an opportunity to amend the petition. The officer is. No question by question ask you. You make the change they’re going to they’re going to print out an amendment form and you’re going to sign it. Make sure that the changes are accurate that they don’t put something that you didn’t say. 

Andres Mejer: If you liked what you heard. Subscribe like share us your give us your comments any questions you have. Happy to answer them to the best of my ability, until next week.