Can I have a lawyer attend my citizenship interview with me?

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Question:

Can I have a lawyer attend my citizenship interview with me? I've already mailed my application in, and I didn't mention that I wanted to bring a lawyer.

Answer:

Immigrants' rights always seem to be shrinking, but they haven't disappeared entirely. You can have a lawyer accompany you to any interview at USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, formerly called the INS). It doesn't matter that you've never told USCIS that you'll be bringing an extra guest. On the day of the interview, the lawyer should simply hand the USCIS officer a form called a G-28 to show that he or she now represents you.

Then the question is, do you want a lawyer with you? If it's just because you're not sure you're ready for your interview, you might do just as well studying up on your English language and American civics. The lawyer can't stop USCIS from asking any of these questions, and he or she can't answer them for you. In fact, you'll find that the lawyer has to sit quietly through much of the interview.

It's a different matter if there's a legal issue in your case that you don't know how to deal with -- such as if you've spent more than a year outside the United States, have had a run-in with the police, were quickly divorced from the spouse that got you your green card, or have a disability that prevents you from being able to learn English. For more information, see Becoming a U.S. Citizen: A Guide to the Law, Exam & Interview. If you still feel the issue could be a problem, definitely consult with a lawyer. If your income is low, check with local nonprofit organizations to see if they can help you at a reduced rate or can recommend low-fee attorneys.

by: , J.D.

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