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Having Attorney Representation During an Immigration Interview


WRITTEN BY: Narisara P. Jongjarearn -Tasanont, Attorney at Law

Today I am going to set forward the top reasons why a person seeking immigration benefits should have a lawyer with him or her during the interview.  If you think this is an important process in your life, then don’t just listen to friends and family who may tell you that you don’t need a lawyer, do what you think is right and hire a lawyer to represent you at your interview.

  1. The complete picture

First of all, this is a very important process, so it is vital that the applicant understands everything completely.  Even if the petitioner is an American born citizen, if he or she is not a lawyer, then there will most often be words spoken by the immigration officer that the petitioner will not understand.  Why is it important to understand everything?  Well, the immigration officer may allude to something that the beneficiary may have done wrong but because it was not direct or because both the petitioner and beneficiary could not understand the entire statement, this would effect the way in which the petitioner or beneficiary would respond to the question or statement.  And this could have a damaging result on the outcome.  Many people who do not hire an attorney are vastly unaware of the various types of accusations that can be levied upon  them during the adjustment interview.  When the applicants are unaware, they are then unprepared and  unable to respond correctly.

  1. Explanation of the legal aspects

If a lawyer attends the interview, he or she would be able to explain everything to the applicant using words that the applicant can understand.  The lawyer would also be able to explain the applicant’s rights and what other steps that may need to be taken.

  1. Speak up for the applicant

If the lawyer can detect that the applicant does not understand the situation at hand, he or she can speak up for the applicant.  The lawyer can help by asking questions and help the applicant explain his or her situation to the immigration officer.  The lawyer is already familiar with the applicant’s case and can help the applicant to describe or explain something.

  1. Defend the applicant and petitioner

This is along the same lines as in number 3 above, but more than just explaining in words that the applicant can understand, the lawyer can defend the applicant and object to any line of questioning that may be offensive or rude.  If the situation becomes hostile, the attorney can take measures to assure that things go smoothly.

  1. Act as a witness

Having a lawyer present during the interview means that the applicant has a witness who will help to observe everything that takes place during the interview.  This could be crucial if a denial results or if a waiver is later needed.

The bottom line is that when facing such an important legal event, having a lawyer by your side can only help.  The cost involved can be earned again, but you only get one shot at the interview, so it is better to be safe than sorry.

And just a final note:  Many people like to ask me if hiring an attorney is necessary when filing a petition with the immigration.  My answer is YES!  A knowledgeable attorney can help you to file the correct forms, make sure the forms are completed correctly, make sure that all the evidence required is in order, address any legal issues beforehand, and resolve any problems or pitfalls that can cause delays and even denials.

A lot of people try to save money and do it themselves or hire a non-lawyer.  The non-lawyer doesn’t know the law.  He doesn’t have a license to practice law so he has nothing to lose if he messes up your case.  But you have everything to lose.  Even if you see a lawyer after the non-lawyer messes everything up, it may be too late to fix the problem.  All non-lawyers are ill-equipped to help you with your immigration matters.  Do not put your lives in their hands.  There can be harsh consequences depending on the facts and circumstances.  Believe me, it is much easier and less expensive to do it the right way from the start.

Another reason to hire an attorney is that an attorney is informed when it comes to laws of this land.  Sometimes a case doesn’t involve only immigration law, but also family law and criminal law.  Also, an attorney can speak for you.  If there are any issues that arise while our case is pending, a lawyer can represent you and speak to the government on your behalf.

Narisara P. Jongjarearn-Tasanont works out of her law office in Los Angeles. She is also the Executive Director of  the Thai American Citizens Alliance.  She is an active member of the State Bar of California and the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association.  You can contact her at 323-664-7131 or  323-704-6355 with your immigration questions.  The contents of this article are not intended as individualized legal advice.



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