You may feel like you know exactly what you need to do at your immigration interview. You’ve prepared. You’re ready. You know what to expect.

That’s a great place to start, but you also need to know what not to do. People make mistakes during their interviews all the time, and these mistakes can have dire consequences. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t tell jokes. Take it seriously. You may think that joking helps to lighten the mood or maybe it feels natural when you’re nervous, but don’t do it. You especially want to avoid any jokes about common legal issues immigrants face.
  • If you are in a family interview and you disagree with something that someone else says, do not engage in a debate or an argument at that time.
  • Never lie. Maybe there’s a topic you don’t want to get into because you’re not sure you can explain it properly. Don’t lie to avoid it. If you get caught in a lie, even if you thought it was harmless, it’s a big issue.
  • Never argue or lose your patience when talking to the Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer, even if you think it’s warranted. This is a stressful time. If you say something you regret, you can’t take it back. Stay calm, keep emotions out of it and think carefully about every word you say.

Immigration interviews may feel intimidating. You know how important the outcome is. At a time like this, you definitely need to understand all of your legal options moving forward.