What happens at an Immigration Marriage Interview: How to Prepare for the Interview.

A wise man once said: if you fail to prepare, be prepared to
fail. This expression is true in life and also in the United
States immigration system. Every day people go to immigration
interviews terribly unprepared, and the consequences are horrible. A
high percentage of their cases get denied, and some applicants are
even arrested by immigration at the time of the interview, and
eventually deported. How does one avoid meeting such an unhappy
fate? How does one dramatically increase his chances of getting
residency approved? What are the secrets of winning your immigration

My friends, in this article I will share some valuable
information, which I hope will help you.

1. Arrive on time. Immigration officers expect you to be on
time for your immigration appointment. If you are late, the officer
can deny your case, even if you arrive later in the day. Be aware
that sometimes there will be long lines at the entrance of the
immigration building, and therefore it is smart to arrive at least 45
minutes before your scheduled interview. What happens many times is
that an applicant is motivated to be at the interview on time, and
therefore he arrives at the immigration waiting room earlier than the
scheduled appointment time - this is a good thing; however his
attorney may not yet have arrived at the immigration waiting room.
Sometimes the immigration officer will call the applicant for his
interview earlier than expected, before the attorney has arrived. In
these cases the immigration officer may pressure the applicant to go
ahead with the interview without the attorney present. In these
circumstances the officer generally will ask the applicant to sign a
form agreeing to be interviewed without the presence or assistance of
his attorney. It is a major mistake to agree to have the interview
without your attorney present. In this situation the smart thing to
do is to politely ask the officer to allow sufficient time for your
attorney to be present at your interview. Without an experienced
immigration attorney present to protect you, the immigration officer
may walk all over your rights, and deny your case. Also it is
important to know that you will not be allowed to bring certain items
into the immigration building, such as: cell phones with cameras,
matches, lighters, any liquids, sharp objects, and pepper spray. If
an immigration guard stops you because of any of these items, you will
be given the choice of either throwing the item out or taking the item
back to your car, which may cause you to be late for the

2. Dress appropriately. Immigration Officers are human
beings, and judge people on their manner of appearance. The
immigration interview is a serious occasion, and I would suggest that
you dress conservatively for the interview. It may increase your
chances for success.

3. Listen to the Questions Asked and Respond Appropriately.
Nothing aggravates an immigration officer more than an applicant who
does not answer the question asked. In my years of experience, this
is the number one cause of immigration interviews going bad. The
immigration officer will ask very specific questions and he expects
very specific and direct answers. For example if an immigration
officer asks the applicant "when were you last admitted to the United
States," the response should not be "I entered on a visitor's visa."
Instead of telling the officer the date of his arrival, the applicant
told the officer the type of visa he came in on. This is the type
of non-responsive answer that will infuriate an officer. Another
example: Q. "When did you first meet your wife?" A. "I met her at
my friend's house." Again, the answer is not responsive to the
question. If the applicant persists with these types of answers,
the officer will eventually likely get so aggravated that he will
determine that this applicant must be lying to him, and will deny the
case. There are hundreds of possible questions that may be asked
of you at the immigration interview. You need to listen to these
questions, and you need to be prepared so that you can respond
effectively. That is where a good immigration attorney comes in; to
prepare you for the questions you will be asked at the interview, and
to protect your rights at the interview.

One of the biggest mistakes a person can make is to guess when he does
not know the answer to a question. Saying "I do not know" or "I do
not remember" is the appropriate answer if you do not know or do not
remember. Guessing at an answer or making up an answer to avoid
embarrassment will destroy your case. Example: a man is asked what
he got his wife for her last birthday. In fact, he did not get her
anything for that birthday because he did not have money at the time,
but he was too embarrassed to admit that, so he told the officer that
he bought her perfume. When the wife was asked what her husband had
given her for her last birthday, she stated that he had not gotten her
anything. Because of the difference in the answers, the officer will
doubt that the marriage is real. Another example: the officer
asked the husband on what date he and his wife married. The husband
was nervous and as a result forgot the exact date. Instead of
admitting to the officer that he was nervous and as a result forgot
the exact date, the husband guessed at an answer (and got it
wrong). If the husband had only admitted that he could not
remember, he might have saved his case.

4. Bring an Interpreter. Do not assume that the immigration
officer assigned to your case will speak and understand a foreign
language. You are required to bring your own interpreter. The
interpreter cannot be a relative. Make sure the interpreter has
legal immigration status in the United States. The interpreter must
only interpret the questions asked and the answers given, or else the
immigration officer may get annoyed and it could negatively affect
your case.

5. Bring a set of original documents and a duplicate set of
copies. Bring a set of originals (or certified copies of the
original documents) to the immigration interview. Also bring a
photocopy of each of these documents. The immigration officer will
inspect the original and will ask for a copy to keep in his file.

6. More is better than less. A common mistake in a marriage
residency case is when the couple waits until they get the immigration
interview notice before they start collecting documents and photos to
prove that have a real marriage and live together. It generally
takes about a year (more or less) from the time an application is
filed to the time of the final residency interview. That means that
people have that amount of time to collect marriage documentation.
Do not wait until the last minute. For example, some people wait
until the last minute to open a joint bank account, and consequently,
at the interview they can only produce one or two bank statements in
both their names. Sometimes they wait until the last possible moment
to enter into a lease, even though they have been living at that
address for much longer. What happens is that the lease they present
at the interview is only dated a week or two before the interview,
which makes the immigration officer suspicious of their marriage and
weaken the change of success. Another tragic mistake is for the
applicant to wait until its too late before applying to have his
driver's license changed to reflect the address where he and his
spouse are currently living. If the addresses on the driver's
licenses do not both show the same address, the immigration officer
will doubt that the marriage is real. Another possibly fatal mistake
is when the tax return does not properly identify their marital
status. Instead of going to a certified public accountant (CPA),
the couple goes to an unprofessional tax preparation company, and in
many instances the petitioning spouse's tax return will fail to
correctly identify the marital status. If an immigration officer
see that you were married in 2005, but your taxes for 2005 and 2006
list you as single, the officer may well use that fact to question
whether your marriage is genuine.

One of the worst things is when the applicant comes into
the interview with very little proof that he resides with his
spouse. The failure to provide sufficient documentation could doom
the case. That is why when it comes to documentation, more is
better than less. For example, let's talk about photographs. If a
couple is really living together in a healthy, loving relationship,
they should be able to produce photos in a wide variety of situations
and over a period of time. The photos should not only be of the two
of them together, but should reflect their wider world of friends and
family. Wedding pictures are very convincing, and in fact photo
albums of the wedding are extremely persuasive. I've represented
clients who have come into the interview with suitcases full of photos
and other evidence in support of the marriage, and their interviews
proceeded very smoothly. On the other hand, the couple that brings
in a meager amount of evidence is likely to experience a painful
interview where each one is interrogated separately by a skeptical
immigration officer, and their case is much more likely to be

My friends, make no mistake, in this post-911 world,
obtaining legal residency in the United States is truly a battle.
Remember, with careful preparation one can win the battle for the
green card.

This article does not constitute legal advice and does not substitute
for the advice of an immigration lawyer familiar with the facts of
your individual case.If you have a question, please contact Attorney
Mitchell Cohen (Hallandale Beach, Florida) to schedule an immigration
consultation: http://mjcohenlaw.googlepages.com. This article was co-
written by Attorneys Mitchell Cohen and Kenneth Panzer, who have
separate law practices.(c) 2008 by Mitchell J. Cohen/Kenneth Panzer. All
Rights Reserved.