Many applicants for family-based immigrant visas and nonimmigrant temporary visas must interview for their visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate overseas. Consulate interviews can be more difficult since unlike cases that involve interviews at the offices of U.S Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) inside the U.S., you will not be allowed to bring an attorney to represent you at your consular interview. For this reason alone, it is highly recommended that you work with an experienced immigration attorney to prepare you for your consulate interview.
Consulate interviews can be nerve-racking for many reasons. They can take place in public areas of the consulate and the applicant can easily be nervous not just because of the benefit at stake but because of the noise and distraction and having to talk through a glass window to convince an officer of his or her eligibility and with no privacy in doing so. Consulate interviews can be short, intense, and officers can seem abrupt and dig into your past and seemingly try to uncover that you have lied or put words in your mouth to try to get at the truth. This can happen especially in areas where consulates see frequent misrepresentations made orally at the interview and in fake documentation submitted as part of the interview. Consulate officers see many applicants throughout the day and try to get to the heart of the issue quickly. If your answers in the interview differ from the information submitted with your application, or if new information comes out during the interview, the officer may still deny your application. A competent immigration attorney can prepare you for what to expect including the procedures, questions you will be asked, specific issues of contention in your case and how best to document your response, and what documents are necessary to bring so your case goes as smoothly as possible.
At SGG, our attorneys regularly prepare our clients for tough consulate interviews. We can help you answer questions such as:
U.S. embassies around the world each have their own requirements and procedures. SGG’s attorneys can help you to identify the specific documents you need, comply with the rules for scheduling fingerprinting and medical exam appointments, and review the information provided by the consulate regarding what to expect when you arrive for your interview and the local safety advisories.
It is especially important to thoroughly prepare for your interview if your case involves any complications such as periods of unlawful presence or criminal convictions. In certain circumstances you may be eligible to file a waiver application with USCIS before you attend the interview. However, even if USCIS approves your waiver in advance, the final decision on whether to grant your visa rests with the interviewing officer.
Preparing for the consulate interview is not necessarily the last stage of consular processing. Many times, when an applicant receives a refusal sheet after an interview based on having to apply for an unlawful presence or criminal waiver, the consulate will require a follow up interview after the waiver is approved by USCIS in the U.S. The majority of people with unlawful presence or criminal convictions are not eligible to file an application for a waiver before the interview. In such cases, you will need to be prepared for what happens in the likely event that the consular officer denies your visa application. There are procedures in place to allow you to apply for the waiver immediately after the interview, and your attorney can assist you in preparing that application in advance. This will greatly reduce the amount of time you will need to spend outside the U.S. waiting for a decision on your waiver application.
Consular officers are human and can make mistakes. Your application can be denied, either by misunderstanding one of the facts in your case or by misinterpreting the section of immigration law that applies to you. There are even instances where the officer will delay or deny an application based on a mistaken evaluation of your medical examination report. In all such cases, SGG’s attorneys are highly experienced in communicating with consulates and with the office of the U.S. State Department that oversees the consulates. We can submit legal arguments on your behalf that could persuade the consulate to revise or withdraw an erroneous decision on your case.