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Best way to answer questions during interview?

Discussion in 'US Citizenship' started by Huracan, Apr 13, 2007.

  1. Huracan

    Huracan Registered Users (C)


    First of all, don't take this post as an invitation to do anything in particular during the interview. We have had quite a few questions in the forum about how to answer interview questions, and just answer the question asked but do not say anything beyond that. It seems that the manual for examination takes a look at the other side and shows techniques that can be used by the examiner to elicit additional information. This gets complicated because one could mistakenly answer a question incorrectly, and then could be accused in the future of having lied under oath.

    Let me put a simple example, but there could be others. Let's say that on the issue of how many trips of more than 24 hours one has lost track of how many trips have been taken (it could be borderline breaking the physical presence or not) and fills the application to the best of his/her knowledge. Let's say the examiner asks whether the list is exhaustive and complete. Perhaps one would be tempted to say yes, although being uncertain or just plain not remembering a particular trip. By answering a strong yes, one could be then accused of lying if the examiner has access to a record of the trip which the applicant had forgotten to include. So, what is the best or possible way to answer these questions to minimize the chance of an accusation of lying under oath either during the examination or later on by a follow-up letter? Is it better to answer yes, no, or is it possible to answer "yes, no to the best of my knowledge and belief" that could leave the door open to having made an honest mistake or omission?

    I know quite a few people honestly forget about minor issues in the past, specially people who don't visit these forums. I believe in some cases an examiner has challenged an applicant on minor tickets in the past, or even because of things done in the past during immigration benefit filings that were not included in the application and perhaps honestly forgotten or not considered during examination.

    What do you think/know about the best way to answer the questions? I see that when people give statements under congress panel they usually mark their answers with a "to the best of my knowledge and belief", even the N-400 is signed under this premise.

    My 2 cents.
  2. Flydog

    Flydog Registered Users (C)

    I would answer a question like "Is this list is exhaustive and complete", with a "to the best of my recollection and knowledge, yes".

    We had a lot of uncertainty in our dates beyond the 5 years immediately preceding our application. It took us a long time to piece together each of our trips. What I did on my N-400 (where it says "list every trip, if you don't have enough room, attach an additiona sheet") was simply put "see attached sheet". Then on the attached sheet, we started our list with

    "The dates and durations of the trips described below are reconstructed from memory, notes, expense reports, old passport stamps, email correspondence and other memorabilia. To the best of my recollection they are the only trips that I took out of the country. All dates and durations should be correct (give or take a day or two)."

    We finished up by describing the first 3 years of our green card (we'd had GCs for about 9 years when we applied) this way:

    "During this period, the family made occasional visits to XX, YY and ZZ in Canada. These visits typically lasted from 3 days to 10 days (necessarily less than 16 days). We took no more than a half dozen of these visits per year."

    There's a reason lawyers use a lot of weasel words ("It depends on what you mean by the word 'is'"). To my mind, you can be accurate and truthful without necessarily being precise.

    (I am not a lawyer, btw).

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