BCIS Interviews Dos & Don'ts


BCIS Interviews Dos & Don'ts

Many, but not all, immigration procedures require an interview with an officer of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS), the agency of the U.S. government that took over responsibility for many of the immigration-related functions formerly performed by the INS. Although most interviews with the BCIS are anxiety provoking, being prepared and not arousing suspicion will make the experience less unpleasant. The tenor of each interview will depend on the personality of the BCIS official with whom you meet, so it is almost impossible to be entirely prepared. It is important to remember, however, that it is the BCIS official's job to determine whether there is anything about your background or present circumstances that precludes you from obtaining the immigration status you desire. The officer does not have anything against you personally.

The Dos

Do prepare for the meeting. Have all of your original documents in order and review your forms. Bring copies all of your forms and all your document originals. You should be able to respond to questions about your forms without extensive referencing and confusion.

Do be prepared to answer personal questions if you are at an interview related to your marriage to a U.S. citizen.

Do follow the directions of the BCIS officer. If the officer wants to interview you and your spouse separately, that is perfectly appropriate.

Do listen carefully and answer only the question that the officer asks you.

Do bring an interpreter with you if you do not understand English.

Do dress appropriately for the occasion. This is an important meeting for you and a good impression can't hurt.

Do remain calm. If you don't understand the question, ask the officer to rephrase it. If you really do not know the answer to a question, it is better to admit ignorance than make something up. It also helps to be prepared. If you know there is a part of your application that will raise suspicion, practice a truthful response.

Do show up on time. BCIS officers are notoriously difficult to reach and requests for changes in interview times are not well received. If you fail to show up for your appointment, you will have to endure a lengthy process to get another interview.

Do hire an attorney to accompany you if the thought of going through an interview alone is too overwhelming.

The Don'ts

Don't joke around with the BCIS officer. Particularly avoid joking or sarcasm related to drug dealing, communicable diseases, bigamy, or smuggling people into the country.

Don't argue with your spouse or other family members in the middle of an interview. Agree before hand on what you will do if a disagreement arises during the interview.

Don't argue with the BCIS officer. If the BCIS officer says part of your application is incomplete, ask for an explanation and attempt to remedy the situation by using the documents and forms you have brought with you.

Don't lose your patience with the BCIS officer and refuse to answer questions. Questions that may seem inappropriate or unimportant to you are probably within the boundaries of what is allowed by BCIS policy. Just keep remembering what the payoff is for going through with the interview.

Don't lie to the BCIS officer. If you feel you have something that would be difficult to explain, hire an attorney. Your attorney should be able to diffuse difficult situations during an interview.

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