Parviz Malakouti, Esq.
What Can A Lawyer Do In A U.S. Naturalization Interview?
Updated: May 19
The naturalization interview is a crucial step in becoming a U.S. citizen.
It’s an opportunity for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer to assess whether the applicant meets the requirements for citizenship. The interview can be intimidating, and for this reason, many applicants choose to have an attorney present during the interview.
In this article, we will explore the different roles a lawyer can play in a U.S. naturalization interview.
Let's take a look at the following aspects in which their assistance is valuable:
A lawyer can assist and represent the applicant at the interview
A lawyer can help make sure an applicant isn't abused at the interview
#1 A lawyer can prepare the applicant for the interview
The first role of the attorney is to prepare the applicant for the interview. This involves reviewing the applicant's naturalization application and ensuring that they know all the answers in their application. At Malakouti Law, we prepare our clients with two sessions before the naturalization interview. In the sessions, we go over answers, how to answer questions (short and sweet, not long and rambling), and tell the applicant what to expect in their particular interview.
The attorney should pay special attention to the portions of the application that could be problematic or cause some obstacles at the interview. They can guide how to answer questions about past criminal convictions, tax issues, and other sensitive topics.
#2 A lawyer can assist and represent the applicant at the interview
The attorney can also assist the applicant during the interview, in certain ways.
While the applicant must answer the questions themselves, the attorney in the room can and should step up if they hear the applicant giving an answer that's not true to a question by the USCIS. Applicants can always give wrong answers, primarily due to nerves or forgetfulness. If the attorney notices this, they can help the applicant to clarify their response or correct any mistakes. The attorney is entitled to ask questions of the applicant at the end of the interview in order to clarify answers the applicant has given or perhaps to give important additional context to what the applicant has said.
It is important to note that the attorney cannot speak on behalf of the applicant or answer questions for them. Still, the can help to ensure that the applicant is providing accurate and truthful information.
#3 A lawyer can help make sure an applicant
isn’t abused at the interview
Another role of the attorney is to ensure that the USCIS officer does not go out of bounds with their questioning.
The USCIS officer is not allowed to ask inappropriate questions or questions outside the scope of the appropriate questions for the USCIS N-400 interview. Unfortunately, some applicants may feel intimidated and bullied into answering inappropriate questions. In these cases, the attorney can ask the USCIS officer to clarify or redirect the questioning. In extreme situations, the attorney can demand a supervisor or that the interview be rescheduled with a different adjudicating USCIS officer.
#4 A lawyer can help explain and address case weaknesses
If the applicant has an aspect of the application that needs more attention, the attorney can indirectly advocate on their behalf at the interview.
For example, if the applicant has a conviction during the five years of good moral character or is applying on the four-year one-day rule, the attorney can explain the circumstances and why the applicant should still qualify for approval at the interview. The attorney can also help the applicant to prepare a legal argument if any issues may result in a denial.
#5 A lawyer can help keep the applicant calm
The final role of the attorney is to keep the applicant calm during the interview. The naturalization interview can be stressful and intimidating, and the presence of an attorney can provide reassurance to the applicant. As an attorney, our job is to be a zealous advocate for our client’s best interest. Applicants who have an attorney at the interview tend to feel relieved that there is another pair of eagle eyes and sharp ears keeping track of how the interview is going.
The attorney can help ensure the applicant is confident and prepared and offer support and guidance throughout the interview.
Request a Consultation with Malakouti Law
Having an attorney present during a naturalization interview can be of enormous benefit to the applicant, especially in cases with problematic eligibility issues.
The attorney can help to prepare the applicant, assist them during the interview, ensure that the USCIS officer stays within the scope of appropriate questions, advocate on the applicant's behalf, and keep the applicant calm. It is important to note that the attorney cannot guarantee approval of the naturalization application. Still, they can help ensure the interview process runs smoothly and the applicant's rights are protected.
At Malakouti Law, we represent clients in their immigration processes from start to finish, including zealous advocacy at the interview. To discuss your case and find out how you can become a client of Malakouti Law, request a consultation here.
Each immigration and citizenship case is particular and you should consult with a qualified, licensed immigration lawyer about your case before taking any steps. The Law Office of Parviz Malakouti does not guarantee the accuracy of information presented nor assume responsibility for actions taken in reliance of this information. The information in this page could become outdated. Attorney marketing.