A petitioner files a case in the United States, submits documents to the National Visa Center, and finally, the embassy or consulate says it’s time for the interview. This is it — the big day.
The immigration interview is a make-or-break moment for an immigrant visa application, so it’s crucial to be prepared and successfully get through the process.
How to Get Ready for the Immigrant Visa Interview
Preparation is key to successfully navigating the immigrant visa interview and increasing the likelihood of a case getting approved. Here are some preparation tips.
Familiarize Yourself With All the Information on the Application
The applicant or their petitioner needs to read every single document submitted to immigration and make themselves familiar with the information that was provided.
For family-based cases, for example, they should read and study the I-130 petition. For employment-based cases, they will need to check out the employment letter, national interest waiver, table of contents, cover letter, and more.
The key is to become aware of what information was provided to the immigration office in all the forms submitted.
Review All Documents Submitted
Next, the applicant must review all of the documents they submitted to immigration and check them side-by-side with the DS-260. They should look for typos, errors, and other things on the DS-260 that don’t match their petition.
In case a mistake or discrepancy is identified, they should notify the embassy right away to correct the error. This is a very important step — the immigration is looking for problems with the application and will likely notice even the smallest discrepancies. They need to be addressed and handled by the time the interview process takes place.
Be Prepared for the Officer’s Questions
Well before the interview, the applicant must be ready to answer the questions the immigration officer will ask. That entails being aware of what they’re likely to ask in the first place.
For marriage-based petitions, the officer can be expected to ask questions that pertain to the marriage, including how the couple met, where and when they met, how long they dated prior to getting married, when they got engaged, etc.
The answers to these questions should all be correct and accurate. The embassy can easily call the applicant’s spouse in the United States to verify, and if they give different answers, immigration will start to suspect marriage fraud.
This also applies to employment-based cases. The applicant must answer questions about their job duties and responsibilities, roles, the location of the company in the U.S., etc. If they don’t get these questions right, it’s going to be a big red flag for the embassy that leads them to suspect that the employment offer isn’t real.
Avoiding Traps in the Immigrant Visa Interview
There are certain traps during the interview process that, when navigated incorrectly, can cause harm to an immigration petition. Here are the most common ones to avoid.
Identifying Family Members
In the United States, family relationships are very clear. Relationships between family members are clearly delineated, and the applicant must be able to say in American terms how they are related to the person sponsoring them, whether it’s their mother/ father/ grandfather/ grandmother/ cousin/ aunt/ uncle/ etc.
In America, relationships between family members are yes or no — not about the degrees of separation. It’s either they are a relative or they’re not. It doesn’t matter how distantly they’re related or if the applicant has only seen them once in their entire life.
If the applicant has a third, fourth, or fifth cousin, for example, they’re still a cousin and a relative in American terms. The applicant must be very careful about identifying their family members with the proper terminology.
Matching Information Provided
The answers that applicants give during the immigration interview should clearly match the information that they provided in their forms and documents. That’s why prior to the interview, it’s very important to review the application.
Any discrepancy or new information that is provided during the interview can be a red flag for the embassy, making them suspect that the applicant is hiding or withholding information.
Being Familiar With What’s on Social Media
Immigration officers can very well go to an applicant’s social media account and ask questions pertaining to their accounts and posts, as well as those of their loved ones or employers. They can ask about people the applicant is friends with or who they’re engaging with online.
Because of that, it’s also worth being careful and aware of what’s on social media — it’s fair game for the immigration officer to ask the applicant questions about that.
The Importance of Doing the Immigration Visa Interview Right
The immigration interview is arguably the most important part of the whole immigration process. It’s crucial that the applicant gets it right and answers the questions correctly.
There’s no opportunity for them to go back and change their answers later on. And once the case is decided at the embassy, there is no appeal process. At the very least, they can recommend the case be revoked, which can delay the case for up to a year if the interview goes badly.
The immigration interview is a big deal — what the applicant says will make or break their case. So they must be well-prepared for the big day.