Law Offices of Steven A. Culbreath, P.A. -- Immigration Lawyer, St. Petersburg, Tampa Bay, Florida, USA

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Citizenship Interview

In most cases, assuming your Application for U.S. Citizenship (Naturalization) was duly filed in good faith, You normally have nothing to fear from the interview at your local USCIS office. Here are some general recommendations I have put together, based on my many years’ experience and having attended many interviews over the years, and also based on personal feedback from clients and other lawyers.



Attorney Attendance and Role

Generally, lawyers ARE permitted to attend an interview with a client, however, our role to advocate is often very limited, and mostly consists of listening and observing (during the interview).

Unless the USCIS officer permits, we generally CANNOT act as your interpreter, because we are not considered “impartial”, because due to our role as YOUR advocate and legal representative, we have a vested interest in your case being granted/ approved.


Arriving at Your Interview

Once you have gone through personal security screening upon entering the building, and you have obtained your ticket number, seat yourself in the general waiting area (perhaps go to the bathroom first!), as instructed, but sit as close to the door where USCIS officers come out to call-up clients as possible, to make sure you hear when your case is called.


The Interview

Once the officer calls your case, follow them to the office or window where the interview will be conducted. The officer will introduce themselves, explain the purpose of the interview to you (which is to review your immigration history, confirm your eligibility, and administer the Civics and language test), and place you under Oath (you have to tell the truth, as the interview is considered an official proceeding with testimony).

The officer will then proceed to review your file, verify information for accuracy, correctness, and completeness, while asking you questions. Just be yourself, act normally and naturally, and answer all questions as truthfully and honestly (but simply) as possible.  It’s perfectly OK to ask for clarifications, to say “I don’t remember”, etc.


What to Expect

The interview will spend significant time reviewing and verifying the information regarding the following:

  • data on your N-400 form

  • your prior U.S. immigration history (incl. prev. violations, issues, etc.)

  • your current maintenance of Greencard-resident status

  • your foreign travel history within the past 5 years

  • your prior criminal history, esp. within the past 5 years (if applicable)

  • other indications of possible lack of “good moral character”

After this review section of the interview, the officer will then proceed to administer the Civics Test and possibly the English language “test”, if English is NOT your primary language, and you do not fall within certain age exceptions.



What to Bring with You

Prepare your additional supporting documents by:

  • making a set of your own documents, like your “originals”, and

  • an equal set of documents for the USCIS officer to keep / use.

You should include any items that will have changed, become updated, or become available AFTER your case was originally filed.  This should include, for example:

  • changes in address (rent / lease / own),

  • changes of employment,

  • changes in finances, banking, insurance, etc.

  • recent utility bills, bank account statements, etc.

  • Federal Tax Returns for the most recent 5 years.

Also be sure to bring:

  • Foreign Passport and Birth Certificate,

  • SSN-Card,

  • State Driver License,

  • U.S. Spouse’s Passport, SSN-Card, State Driver License, Birth Certificate,

  • Marriage Document (if currently married),

  • Divorce Document(s)  (if previously married),

  • USCIS Interview Appointment Notice,

  • Proof of Birth of any dependent children (under age 21),

  • Criminal Documents/Records (if applicable).


The End of the Interview / Further Steps

 

There IS some possibility that the USCIS officer might request some document or information which you currently do not have with you. If that happens, they will finish the interview, issue you a letter (“Request For Evidence”), explaining what you need to obtain and provide, and then you have a certain deadline by which to MAIL-IN the missing item(s). There is usually no need to return to USCIS in person a second time.

Once they receive and review what you sent in, they will finalize the approval and schedule you for your swearing-in ceremony. This can take a few weeks, usually between 1 and 4 weeks from the date of the interview.

 

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Law Offices of Steven A. Culbreath, P.A. -- Immigration Lawyer, St. Petersburg, Tampa Bay, Florida, USA © 2017. All Rights Reserved. No part of this website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of the author, unless otherwise indicated for stand-alone materials. The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask me to send you free written information about my qualifications and experience. Florida F.& A.M.