In a previous article, I discussed some of the reasons why it is a good idea to hire an attorney for your case, especially for your interview or hearing, rather than trying to save money and do it on your own. After all, you have waited so long to achieve your “American dream”, so I’m sure that you don’t want anything to happen just as you are about to “cross the finish line”. At the interview, you may be tired, frightened, nervous, or your mind may go blank for even the most simple of questions, resulting in your saying or doing the wrong thing. That could result in your case being further investigated or possibly being denied, even if you are legitimately eligible for your visa.
While having an attorney representing you does not “guarantee” that your case will be approved, I think that it could greatly increase your chances, for the following reasons:
1. An attorney can brief or prepare you for your interview or hearing. An attorney can explain to you far in advance of your interview (or hearing), what to expect, the types of questions that may be asked of you, and the correct way to answer those questions, etc. In an interview or hearing, you may be asked a question, and you try to truthfully answer the question. But the answer comes out wrong, because you somehow didn't say what you really meant to, did not provide a full answer, or you may have misunderstood the question, and gave an answer that did not fit the question. This may spark suspicion, or create additional questions in the mind of the examiner or judge. You may be rescheduled for another interview, and/or your case could be placed under investigation, therefore prolonging the case. With proper preparation and briefing by an attorney, you could possibly avoid this from happening.
2. An attorney can help you gather the necessary documents. Before the interview or hearing, an attorney can make sure that all the necessary and important documents have been gathered, and will be available at the time of the interview or hearing. This could avoid your “forgetting” to bring some important document to your interview, and then having to come back another day, perhaps weeks or months later, or your application being delayed or denied. Or an attorney can evaluate your documents, and determine what documents are needed. In other words, the Interviewing Officer may only want documents that have a direct bearing on your case and eligibility. If you bring a box full of papers that have no bearing on your case, it could possibly complicate matters.
3. An attorney can make sure your rights are protected at the interview or hearing. There are many complications that can arise during interviews. For example, the interviewing officer may suspect fraud, and ask the person to sign a confession. Without an attorney to advise him, this person may go ahead and sign the confession, out of fear and confusion, without even reading it, because he will be very confused and scared, and would not know what rights, remedies, and relief are available to him.
There are other complications that a person may not be able to properly explain to an interviewing officer or an Immigration Judge, like the existence of illegitimate children, discrepancies in birth or marriage certificates, late-registered birth certificates, applications for asylum, CSS/LULAC, DUI’s, or other criminal offenses.
Because of your fear or confusion, you may say things that you didn't mean to say, or you may wind up signing documents (or “confessions”), that you didn't read, simply because it was put in front of you.
With an attorney accompanying you, the attorney can make sure that the interview or hearing is conducted in a fair manner, and that you are not accidentally giving up any of your rights. The attorney can make sure that your rights are being protected.
Michael J. Gurfinkel has been an attorney for over 25 years, and is an active member of the State Bar of California and New York, as well as the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the Immigration Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. He has always excelled in school: Valedictorian in High School; Cum Laude at UCLA; and Law Degree Honors and academic scholar at Loyola Law School, which is one of the top law schools in California.
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(This is for informational purposes only, and reflects the firm's opinions and views on general issues. Each case is different and results may depend on the facts of a particular case. All immigration services are provided by an active member of the State Bar of California and/or by a person under the supervision of an active member of the State Bar. No prediction, warranty or guarantee can be made about the results of any case. Should you need or want legal advice, you should consult with and retain counsel of your own choice.)