CA immigration lawyer, Nelson Immigration Law, is more than familiar with the immigration court system. We help many of our clients to navigate this system on a daily basis. It’s not unusual for first-timers in court to feel nervous or upset or to make blunders, so today we’re going to cover a few tips to help with your court appearance.
California Immigration Lawyer Shares Court Appearance Tips
There are multiple reasons why you may have to appear in immigration court. Most commonly, you may have to testify at your merits hearing.
A merits hearing is a hearing before an immigration judge when you are facing deportation. Also called an individual hearing, your testimony gives you the chance to give the immigration judge a reason why you should remain in the U.S. and not be deported.
If you are preparing for an individual hearing, it’s absolutely understandable that you would be nervous, but try to focus and follow some of these tips to keep your composure.
Court Immigration Appearance Tips
1. Tell the Truth
This is an obvious tip, but it’s one worth emphasizing because it is so important! Wen you appear in the court of law, you are giving information under oath. This means that you are promising to tell the truth under penalty of law. If you do not tell the truth, you face further legal proceedings!
If you are unsure how to answer a question you are asked, don’t guess at the answer because this may lead to you telling a lie simply because of a misunderstanding. If you find yourself in this situation, you might ask for the question to be repeated, indicate that you need a translation, or, if you have an attorney, consult your attorney directly.
2. Keep Your Emotions In Check
It is easy to get upset, overwhelmed, frustrated, or even angry when you have to appear in court. It may even feel like everyone is against you or the government lawyer is being unnecessarily unpleasant or personal. If you find yourself in this type of situation, remind yourself to breathe. Remember that you are representing why you should be permitted to live in this country, and getting angry is only going to make things worse for you. Stay calm, instead, and if you need a question repeating or if you need more clarification, just politely ask for more information because you don’t understand what is being asked of you.
3. Answer in Short Sentences
When testifying in court, you always want to answer in short sentences. This means that you should give the answer to the question but nothing more. Don’t volunteer information that wasn’t asked. If you don’t know the answer, simply reply that you “do not recall”. You are appearing in court and representing your own best interest, this means that giving any information that is not asked of you, can be used against you or used as a reason to deport you.
4. ALWAYS Ask For Clarification If You Need It
There is no shame in needing clarification for a question that is asked of you, so don’t be afraid to ask. If you don’t understand a questions, ask for clarification then too. Simply put, if you need help, ask! The worst thing you can do is to guess the answer to questions, to answer what you think is expected of you, or to make up an answer. All of these things can cause complications in your trial.
5. If You Make a Mistake, Just Admit It!
Sometimes, you might make a mistake during your testimony or when answering questions, it’s okay. Everyone makes mistakes! The best thing you can do if you make a mistake is to admit that you made a mistake and apologize for it. Acknowledging your mistake as a mistake lets officials know that you are not purposefully being dishonest and that you value truth.
6. Try Not To Be Afraid
You are very likely to feel fear at the idea of testifying before a judge, but try to put that fear behind you. You may also feel fearful when the government attorney starts to question you. Don’t focus on that fear because if you do, you will become distracted and you may even answer questions incorrectly. Try to remind yourself that the government attorney is a person too, they do all of the normal everyday things that you do. It just so happens that their job is as an attorney for the government in immigration court.
7. Listen Carefully
Sometimes we can think that we know what we are going to be asked before the question is finished. Even if you think that you know what the government attorney is going to ask you, let them finish the question before you start answering. This is the polite thing to do, but it is also important that you know exactly what the attorney is asking of you so that you can give them the information that they are asking you for.
8. Be You
You are you and the best impression you can give in court is to be yourself. Don’t exaggerate the facts and don’t minimize your situation either. You need to portray an accurate and honest picture of your situation to the court.
CA Immigration Lawyer Shares Court Appearance Tips
If you are searching for a CA immigration lawyer to help you to prepare for your immigration court hearing, Nelson Immigration Law can help! Just give us a call today to set up an appointment at a time that is convenient for you!