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Immigration Interviews: Tips for Success

PREPARATION STARTS AT HOME:

BRING ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS AND DUPLICATE COPIES
Make sure to bring your originals and certified copies of the original documents to your interview.  Also make sure to bring photocopies of all these documents.

PREPARE AHEAD OF TIME
Review your applications ahead of time so that you will be prepare for the types of questions that will be asked.  Keep in mind that you will be answering personal questions from an interviewing officer you have not previously met and the interview may be recorded by USCIS. Contact your attorney if you have questions.

GETTING TO THE INTERVIEW:

ARRIVE ON TIME
You can find the scheduled time and location of your interview on your appointment notice. You will need to arrive at the interview location at least 15 minutes ahead of your scheduled interview time. If your interview location is in a large city, allow time extra time for traffic, parking, and waiting in line for the security screening.

LEAVE ELECTRONIC DEVICES IN THE CAR OR AT HOME
Do not carry cell phones or any other devices with camera functions into your interview.
These items are not allowed and you will be asked to return them to your car.

BRING AN INTERPRETER
If you are not fluent in English you are required to bring your own interpreter.  You are not allowed to bring a relative as your interpreter.

DRESS APPROPRIATELY
Your interview is very important and takes place in a formal setting.  The interviewing officer will take note of your appearance and demeanor.  Business casual is recommended.  Avoid hats, tank tops, short, and flip-flops.

WAIT FOR YOUR ATTORNEY
Do not go into your interview early or sign any papers without your immigration attorney present. If the officer calls you early, tell him that you wish to wait for your attorney.

DURING THE INTERVIEW:

LISTEN TO QUESTIONS AND ANSWER APPROPRIATELY
Make sure to listen to the complete question before answering.  Make sure your answer addresses the question asked and is concise.  Once you’ve answered the question, stop talking! The interviewer will ask a follow up question if she needs more information.

RELAX

Last but not least, it is normal to be nervous before your interview.  Try to take a deep breath and focus on the task at hand.  If you did not understand the question, you can ask for it to be repeated. You can request a break at any time to speak with your attorney and to gather your thoughts.

What's happening with DACA? As of September 5, 2017

1) If You Do Not Have DACA or a DACA Application Pending. You cannot apply. The program has been terminated and new applications are no longer being accepted by USCIS.

2)If you have DACA and a work permit that expires on or before March 5, 2018, you can apply for a 2-year renewal, but your application must be received on or before October 5, 2017.

3) If your DACA and work permit expire after March 5, 2018, you are not eligible for an extension and your DACA, work authorization, and protection from deportation will expire on the date shown on your DACA approval notice and work permit.

4) If you have a DACA application that was received at USCIS on or before September 5, 2017, your application will continue to be processed.

5) If you have DACA and have a currently valid advance parole document, you may still use the document to travel and return to the U.S. as long as you return BEFORE the document expires. However, even with a valid travel document, CBP can still refuse
to let you in. Before you travel, speak to a qualified immigration lawyer.

6) Even with valid DACA and a valid work permit, the government can terminate your DACA and work permit at
any time if it believes you are no longer eligible or for any other reason.

7) Talk to a qualified immigration attorney as soon as possible. Members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) report that up to 30% of people screened for DACA were eligible for something better and more permanent. Before making any decisions which could impact your future status, speak to a lawyer.

Tips for Immigrants Pending New Executive Orders

Tips for Immigrants Pending New Executive Orders

Currently, we are waiting to see how the recent executive order from January 25, 2017 will be enforced.  A lot of people, understandably,  want to know what steps they can take know to protect themselves in case of the worst-case scenario.  Here are steps you can take now if you are a Naturalized U.S. Citizen, Lawful Permanent Resident, Visa Holder, or an Undocumented Immigrant.  

  1. Naturalized U.S. citizens. In particular if you are traveling within 100 miles of any US Border (including the oceans), it is recommended that you carry with you your US passport, or passport card, or a photocopy of your naturalization certificate. Because of the unpredictability of the current situation,  keep a photocopy of these documents in a safe place at your home, so that if necessary, someone will have access to them.  You may very well need to prove your US Citizenship.
  2.  Permanent residents. Federal law requires that anyone who is NOT a US Citizen carry with them at all times evidence of their lawful status.  So, carry your green card with you at all times!  As noted for US citizens, you should also keep a photocopy of your green card in a safe place at home so that it can be accessed by someone in case you lose your card and you need it to identify yourself.  You should also renew your green card a full 6 months before expiration. If your green card has expired, renew it now.  Consider starting the process to naturalize immediately!  If traveling back from a lengthy trip abroad, do not sign any documents at the border if it is alleged that you have abandoned your residency.  Only an immigration judge can take away your status as a permanent resident.
  3. Lawfully present nonimmigrants ( DACA, U Visa, EADs, Visitors, Students, H1Bs, etc.). Carry with you at all times your Employment Authorization Document (work permit), I-94 card, passport with entry stamp, or other proof of lawful presence (see the law above). Carry the original with you and keep a photocopy in a safe place at home, especially if you are within the 100 mile border area.
  4. Undocumented immigrants in the US for more than two years. Keep with you at all times evidence that you have been present for at least two years. Why?  Because President Trump just ordered DHS to examine activating a never used provision in immigration law that allows for the immediate removal from the US of anyone who cannot prove they have been here for two years (absent a claim for asylum).  We do not know when ICE or CBP might activate the change, but we need to be prepared.  Evidence that you might want with you are utility bills, receipts, Facebook posts, mail or any other documentation with your name going back two years. Again, keep this information at home so that it is accessible to someone who can help you.  And, make sure you have a family plan in place to call for legal assistance if you fail to return home as usual.
  5. Undocumented immigrants in the US for less than two years.  The bad news is that you need a plan in place on what will happen to your belongings and your family if you do not return home from work, shopping, or school.  Make sure your relatives know they can look for your name on the ICE detainee website.  We assume that ICE and CBP will not release you on bond, and that if you have a fear or returning home, you will need to communicate that clearly so that you may apply for asylum.
  6. Undocumented Immigrants with 10 years in the United States and United States Citizen children. Absent criminal convictions, you may be eligible for relief and release on bond.  Begin now to prepare the paperwork you will need to secure a bond and to prove your case.  Set aside copies of birth certificates of children and proof that you have been here for at least ten years. Don’t be caught unprepared!
  7. Non-US Citizens (Permanent Residents, Visa Holders, and Undocumented Immigrants) who have a criminal conviction OR are arrested.  If you have a criminal conviction, or are even arrested for a crime, you may be detained by ICE. If you have relief from removal, you may be eligible for bond.  Prepare for this by saving money for bond now and have the paperwork organized to help your attorney act quickly.  If you are arrested and charged with a criminal offense, work with attorneys to fight and avoid a conviction that will have immigration consequences.
  8. Undocumented Immigrants with prior deportation orders.  If you have a prior deportation order and have returned to the United States, you are subject to prosecution by the federal government for the crime of reentry after deportation. There may be an increase in the number of people charged with this crime. Depending on why you were deported you can spend many years in federal prison for reentering the US.  Again, start preparing a plan now to handle this situation. If you have a deportation order and never left, NOW is the time to speak to an immigration attorney, obtain a copy of your file from the government, and seek advice about your options to reopen your case.  Understand your immigration history!
  9. For those Arrested by ICE, especially for the undocumented–Have a plan in place. Decide now who picks up the kids from school/daycare, who will be authorized to do so with the school, who to contact first, have a power of attorney prepared for this. Put copies of documents in a secure place. Memorize the phone number of a relative or of an attorney.
  10. Remember: Don’t panic. Get informed, know your rights, know your options, and make a plan!