COVID-19 has changed how immigration interviews are completed. Some cases have received exemptions from interviews, but for the majority of cases, decisions are made following an interview — and now it’s possible for an attorney to accompany you during an interview, including by phone. Having an attorney join by phone reduces travel time and may be the best option.
In an immigration interview, attorneys take on the role of witness and observer. If a legal question is asked, attorneys are able to jump in to discuss with the immigration officer. Attorneys can also request a question be asked again if you become confused or do not directly answer a given question. But ultimately, the responsibility of answering questions falls on you, meaning you should always prepare for the interview even if your attorney will be accompanying you.
It’s important to prepare for the interview starting not on the day of, but before. To prevent surprises during the interview, it’s necessary to practice answering questions and go over your immigration history with your attorney beforehand. Most important of all, to prevent delays or confusion durint the interview, you should make sure to prepare any documents you may need to show.
If you’ve thoroughly prepared all of this, and if your case does not involve more complicated factors such as a criminal history or changes to your immigration status, you should be able to complete your interview even without an attorney present.
But for those who have a tendency to become easily flustered, having an attorney accompany you may bring peace of mind.
It doesn’t happen often in immigration offices in bigger cities, but we are aware of more aggressive or unfriendly immigration officers in smaller regions. There have been instances in which cases have been delayed due to immigration officers asking questions unrelated to a case, or making statements resembling threats, or demanding additional evidence or issuing notices of intent to deny.
If you are scheduled to do an interview at a location that is known to have these types of immigration officers, having an attorney present could act as a barrier from these situations.
Though attorneys who attend immigration interviews are witnesses and observers, they are able to monitor and record what is said, which may help address any additional actions in the future if necessary. Even if an attorney is not present, it’s important to keep a record of the interview in detail, so that in case of further notices, you are able to respond more easily.
Law Offices of Gary J. Kim
3731 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 502Z
Los Angeles, CA 90010