Going for your interview at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is usually a stressful experience. If nothing else, you have probably never been through an immigration interview before, so it is hard to know what to expect. To reduce the stress of the event, here is a general description of what to expect at the Seattle Field Office. In this post we will describe the basic logistics of what happens on interview day.
What to do the day before.
At the time you were scheduled for an interview you received a written notice from USCIS. Read that notice very carefully and make sure you understand the documents that are required at the interview. You are always required to bring the interview notice itself and valid photo ID. The interviewing officer is going to have all the paperwork you originally filed with your application. But if you filed copies of documents with your application you may be required to bring originals with you to the interview. Check the interview notice to see what they are asking for.
I recommend you bring a good book to the interview. Interviews at the Seattle field office often run two hours behind schedule, so be prepared for a long wait. If you get low blood pressure, make sure to bring a snack so you can be at your best for the interview. Likewise, pack any medication you will need, planning for a long wait.
Arriving at the Seattle field office.
The Seattle field office is easy to find, located just a few minutes off I-5 near SeaTac airport. (Here is a link to the map). Be sure to leave plenty of time to get to the interview. If you are new to the Seattle area, know that traffic can be terrible on the freeways near SeaTac. The only parking for the facility is in a paid lot located right next to the office. The lot currently costs $8 and accepts cash only, so make sure to stop by an ATM the day before. There is a bus stop right outside the facility; you can use the Metro Transit trip planner to find a route.
Getting into the facility.
Immigration offices are secure facilities. To enter the office you are required to pass through security similar to what you have seen at U.S. airports. You will have to take off your shoes and belt, just like the airport. Everyone – not just the person being interviewed – is required to show security a valid photo identification. Anyone without an ID will be turned away – the security officers are serious about this rule. You may also be requested to show your interview notice at the security station, so have it available. It is a good idea to leave your phone in your car; if you bring the phone into the immigration interview the officer can request to search the contents of the phone. Do not bring anything that could be viewed as a weapon to the facility!
Inside the facility.
Once you pass through security you need to check in with the desk on the main floor. This is the desk that you will see past security to the right. Stand in the appropriately marked line (queue), then hand your interview notice to the person at the desk. They will scan the notice, which tells the interviewing officers that you are there for the interview. After that you walk up the stairs, or take the elevator, to the waiting room on the second floor. There are restrooms and a water fountain located on the second floor.
Getting called into the interview.
The offices for the USCIS interviewing officers are along the outside of the building on the second floor. So when the immigration officer is ready for you she will open one of the doors to the waiting room and call the name of the applicant. Notice that there are three doors to the waiting room, so keep an eye open in case the officer calls your name from the other end of the room. You will go back to the interview room along with any family member who petitioned for you. Extra family members and friends are generally not allowed into the interview room.
The interview rooms are small offices belonging to the USCIS officer who is conducting the interview. The officer will sit at her desk, and you will be at a chair on the other side. As you enter the room the officer will ask you to stand and take an oath, promising to tell the truth. After that you will sit down and the interview will start.
The interview generally begins with the officer going through the written forms that you have submitted. The officer will go one-by-one through questions on the form and ask you the questions out loud. As you ask the questions the officer will make check marks on the form to show that your answer matched what you wrote. If you made a mistake on the form – let’s say you wrote your address wrong – the officer will make the correction. Later you will be asked to sign-off on that change.
After the officer completes reviewing the form she will begin asking you questions appropriate to the application you have filed. Those questions are application-specific, so there is little general advice we can give here. The most important advice I can give is to always (always, always, always) tell the truth. There is worst possible thing you can do is lie to the immigration officer.
After the interview.
Sometimes the officer will be able to tell you at the interview whether your application is being approved. But it is also common for the officer to take additional time to review your application. That does not mean it is being denied. After an application is approved it can take 30 days for the approval notice to be issued.
I wish you all the best luck for your interview!