It will largely depend on whether negative factors exist in your case (for example: a complicated immigration history, a criminal record, issues with fraud, multiple marriages or petitions, etc.). An immigration attorney works like an insurance policy: you may or may not need one at the time of the interview, but when you do, you will be glad you hired one.
What does an immigration attorney DO at an interview?
- An attorney prepares the client(s) for the interview. In our firm, we usually meet with our clients to explain the process to them, go through a series of hypothetical questions that may be asked at the interview, and verify that all documents are in order;
- An attorney clarifies questions asked by the officer during the interview;
- An attorney rectifies any mistakes or misunderstandings from any previous filings done by the applicant or another attorney on behalf of the applicant;
- An attorney ensures that proper procedure is taking place at the time of the interview (for example, that the officer is asking relevant questions, that the officer is polite to the applicants, that the officers are basing their decisions on substantial evidence, etc.);
- An attorney can prevent an applicant from saying or doing something that could potentially hurt his or her case.
What does an immigration attorney NOT do at an interview?
- An attorney does not answer questions for the applicant (the interview is about the applicant, not the attorney);
- An attorney does not translate for the applicant (the applicant must have his or her own interpreter);
- An attorney does not lie for the applicant. It is important to remember that, before the interview starts, applicants always get sworn by the officer and asked to tell the truth, so it is unethical for the applicant or the attorney to lie to the officers (and this ultimately hurts your case).
Even after the interview is over, an attorney can follow up with the officer, respond to any requests for additional evidence from the officer, and make sure that all important documents (like green cards and work permits) are delivered timely to applicants.
You can always make an appointment to talk to an attorney and discuss whether you should hire one to attend an interview with you.
Johanna Cochran, Associate Attorney