Interview tips at the US Embassy

There are no hard and fast rules to  follow during interviews to  obtain a visa from any U.S. embassy amongst the  almost  294 around the world.  The basic creed to follow is to  tell the truth.  If you don’t, the lie will haunt  not  only you but your family too, maybe for the rest of your lives.  It does not matter whether you are caught on the spot  by  the consular officer or 15 years later  when you are already in the United States and give a contradictory answer to the same question.  The falsehood will  have far-reaching  and maybe  devastating consequences to  an immigrant.

The departments in the U.S. government involved with screening visitors or immigrants  (Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, to name a few), have a centralized and coordinated system in place to keep and maintain records of arrivals and the benefits that they apply for while in the country. Take note,  a  lot has  changed in the last 15 years.  The present administration’s policy is to implement immigration law,  to the letter.  Seems draconian  but that is the state of things. This is not the time to be complacent and take chances.  No “Hail Mary’s” can get you a touchdown to save the day.  If you intend to come to the United States to visit friends and relatives, stick to  this purpose.  A successful applicant for a tourist visa has to speak clearly of this intention during the interview.  Personal statements made by the applicant vis-à-vis facts that would later prove to be in  conflict with such pronouncements can be taken into account in later applications.  A married couple with 5 children, two of whom were born in the United States, are now subject to an actual interview before an immigration officer when something inconsistent appears in their compiled records.  And that could be the end of an  American dream. In previous years, interviews for parental petitions to grant a green card appear to be not the ‘standard practice’.  An alien’s immigration records will be thoroughly reviewed for one last time, i.e., during the   application for U.S. citizenship.  Due to the centralization of the information system among the departments, the records of the alien, even at the U.S. embassy level can be viewed by the coordinating agency.  Therefore, honesty and consistency can go a long way.  This is the rule of thumb when  applying for an immigrant or non-immigrant visa.

When  applying for an immigrant visa (e.g., as a spouse, child, parent or sibling of a U.S. lawful permanent resident or citizen),  keep in mind that: the interviewing officer would be asking questions pertaining to  (a)  eligibility to obtain a visa (i.e., the legitimacy/truthfulness of the relationship between the petitioner and the alien)  and (b) admissibility into the United States (i.e., whether the alien has committed a crime, or was/is involved with or a member of a terrorist group, whether one  was/is a drug addict, was previously deported from the US or has any fraudulent record in their name that impacts  moral character, etc.  Unlike before, the U.S. embassies are at present more ‘pro-active’ in their approach to verify the authenticity of the documents from the designated agency of the government of the country of origin.  It will not be surprising to know that the consular officers have established direct contacts with local offices who handle and issue vital records such as birth, marriage and death certificates.  If you are caught submitting a fake birth certificate to establish parentage, the shenanigan will be  on you and your family’s record forever, unless ‘waivers’ are available to redeem  this grievous mistake.  When applying for a non-immigrant visa, (tourist or student), the US embassy officer will focus on  the applicant’s ‘economic and familial ties’ with the country of origin as proof or reason/s to go back home and not unlawfully and desperately seek opportunities in the U.S.  If you are  a tourist, be ready to show sources of funds to afford the  travel and sustain any request for extended journeys in the U.S. They will also look into the stability of your job in the home country,  if it is worth going back to.  For both types of visa applicants, here is a helpful  reminder  – present yourselves on the appointed interview day looking pleasant and confident, showing respect to these consular officers who will accord reciprocal courtesy to you.

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Maria Rita Reyes-Stuby is a licensed attorney in Michigan.  She is a graduate of the University of the Philippines College of Law. She specializes in immigration and practices in Las Vegas, Michigan, California and other states.  Bernadette Bretana, a graduate of the Ateneo Law School and Ms. Stuby are licensed attorneys in the Philippines. Please call @702-403-4704 or email her at [email protected] or go to for any questions on this article.

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