Meeting with an official from the Bureau of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for your initial immigration interview can be intimidating. You can make the process a lot smoother by keeping a few basic rules in mind about how to conduct yourself during the interview.

1. Don’t make assumptions about the interviewer.

The USCIS interview process is a serious thing. Don’t assume that your interviewer’s demeanor means that he or she has any personal feelings about your application — even if the interviewer seems unfriendly. He or she may simply be enforcing a certain professional distance.

2. Don’t try to use humor to “lighten the mood.”

Gallows humor or sarcasm comes naturally to a lot of people, but keep your sense of humor in check during the interview. A misguided joke about ethnicity or racial stereotypes could be taken seriously.

3. Don’t react with anger to the questions.

The USCIS interview process feels intrusive because it is intrusive. The official in charge of your case is generally required to probe pretty deeply into your life. Even if you would normally find certain questions offensive, it’s wise to remember that this is not a “normal” situation. Stay calm.

4. Don’t go into the interview unprepared.

Stepping into that interview without all of your personal documents handy (and in order) is a sure way to get sent back to the starting point.

5. Don’t lie, exaggerate or try to hide anything.

Human beings sometimes lead messy lives and explaining something in your past can sometimes be a problem. Just the same, attempts to lie about or hide part of your history can have disastrous and long-lasting effects on your immigration process.

Talking to an immigration attorney about any potential immigration issues you may have before you get to the USCIS interview is often the wisest course of action. It may save you a significant amount of worry and time.