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Surviving an Immigration Interview

After all of the papers have been filed and the visa has been approved, there is still one major hurdle on an intending immigrant's mind: the visa interview. There is not much public information about these visa interviews that happen at consulates and embassies, but here is some information our office has been able to glean.

The interviewing consular officer's duty is to answer two questions:

  1. Is the applicant eligible for a visa?
  2. Even if the applicant is eligible for a visa, is there anything that might make them inadmissible regardless?

The simplest example would be a H-1B visa applicant who has been charged with crimes in a previous visit to the United States. The H-1B visa applicant, although has filed all of the necessary paperwork and has worked tirelessly with his or her employer, might still be found inadmissible if during the interview it is revealed that the H-1B visa applicant was charged or convicted of crimes before.

Consular officers try to answer the two questions above by depending mostly on the visa applicant's words in the interview and the applicant's answers on the online visa application (Form DS-160). The papers and documents submitted are still important, but not as important for the consular officer's purposes of the interview. Thus it is important to tell the truth to the officer and mention all of the important details rather than relying on the consular officer to sift through paperwork and documents to hunt for the answer.

The visa interview is not always done in private, and the consular officer will tell the applicant at the end of the interview whether the visa was granted or denied. There are two types of denials: First, there is an absolute denial where the consular officer finds the applicant is ineligible to receive the visa. A second type of denial is where the consular might need more information to determine eligibility. This second type of tentative refusal is known as a "221(g)" or "administrative processing", and is similar to a Request For Evidence ("RFE") from USCIS.

If such 221(g) or administrative processing is found, it is up to the alien to request any possible waivers. Read all the documents the consular officers gives you and the post-denial options you have. Clearly indicate to the consular officer whether you will pursue any of these options and collect any and all receipts, documents, and other papers for your immigration attorney, if you have one, to review.

It is the immigration attorney's job to work with the applicant to review all forms, supporting evidence, and the applicant's background to make sure that the applicant's answers are truthful and consistent at the interview. If you have questions about your visa interview or any other immigration questions, contact our office today.

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