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Prepare ahead of time for your immigration interview

Starting a new life as an immigrant in Pennsylvania can be exciting, challenging and somewhat frightening, all at the same time. Hopefully, you have a strong support network in place because major life transitions of any kind are often less stressful if you have friends, family and other helpful resources at your disposal. You can also do some research on your own to learn more about U.S. immigration laws or specific issues that may concern you or your loved ones.

If you recently married a U.S. citizen or are in the process of seeking a status adjustment for some other reason, a time may come when officials request your presence at an immigration interview. Trying to work, run errands, socialize and otherwise carry out normal tasks or duties on an average day is difficult enough if you have a language barrier and are still adapting to your new lifestyle; appearing at an interview where immigration officials will ask questions that may affect your legal status may be even more stressful.

Knowing what to do and not do may help

You obviously want to make a good impression when you meet with immigration officials regarding your status. It's crucial to remember that what you say and do during your interview may either positively or negatively impact your situation. The following list provides practical tips that may help you successfully navigate an official interview process:

  • You may be the type of person who uses humor to add levity to serious situations; however, your immigration interview is definitely not the time or place to do so, especially regarding jokes about people smuggling, drugs or contagious diseases. It's typically best to treat the situation as solemn and important, and to act accordingly.
  • If an immigration official asks questions you don't like, you may feel frustrated or upset, but it's best to try to remain as calm and cooperative as possible. Never show anger or aggression toward your interviewer.
  • Besides never arguing with an immigration official conducting an interview, you also want to avoid bickering with your spouse or other family members during an interview. It may help if you have a set plan in mind ahead of time as to how you and your family member will handle any disagreement that occurs between you during your meeting.
  • Answer all questions as best you can; however, it's generally in your own best interest to answer only the specific questions the interviewer asks. If you don't know an answer to a particular question, it's always best to be truthful rather than trying to fabricate an answer.
  • It's also very important to dress appropriately for your immigration interview. While you may enjoy lounging around the house in athletic-style clothing or your favorite pajama pants, you'll want to appear neat, clean and business-like for your meeting.

Keeping in mind that (especially if you are attending a marriage interview) the line of questioning may get very personal can help you avoid stress and prepare thoughtful, honest responses.

Bring added support

You are allowed to ask an interpreter to accompany you to your immigration interview if needed. Many Pennsylvania immigrants also request assistance from attorneys experienced in immigration and naturalization law processes.

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