One thing my 30 years of experience in immigration law has taught me is that you cannot trust the immigration service (the USCIS or the old INS) to protect your rights and interests during an interview. The officers are NOT your friend or your ally. I have always recommended that anyone being interviewed by the USCIS (and before that INS) have a lawyer present. Why? Here are five reasons:
- These interviews are done to see who is NOT eligible for the green card; A senior USCIS official once told me that “there is fraud in every case, you just have to dig sometimes to find it.”
- The officer is NOT the applicant’s friend. Their job is to look at every aspect of the law that allows them to deny a green card, and see if there is something in the applicant’s background that fits the bill.
- Most clients are MUCH more calm with a lawyer at their side, as it gives them a feeling of security knowing that someone has their back during a very stressful time, and the attorney has the complete file at their fingertips; whereas the individual may not be prepared to produce something the officer asks for.
- Some officers are VERY aggressive, and we have seen interviews go “off the rails,” resulting in I-140 revocations when an attorney was not present.
- The Immigration Officers are like police officers. Everyone knows NOT to talk to a police officer about important facts without a lawyer present. This is completely true with immigration too. There is no harm in having a lawyer present, but the downsides are immense, including have a hard-fought case denied because of a misunderstanding or a lack of communication skills.