Common mistakes during immigration interviews

By A. G. Kleijweg*

Dear Readers,

In my work I see a rise of cases in which the Immigration Authority starts to question immigrants. Usually that is in cases where there is a relationship on the basis of which an application for a residential status is based.

That is fine because a residential status should only be granted if there is a genuine relationship between the migrant and the person in The Netherlands, hereafter called the referent. It is the job of the Immigration Authority to ensure that no fraud is taking place.

However, often I see cases where all kind of problems arise, either because of misunderstandings or clumsiness of the migrant and the referent, or because of faults on the side of the Immigration Authority.

Through this I want to inform readers about what questions might be asked and in which manner answers should be given.

This article is useful for anyone, Dutch, regular or irregular immigrant, with a clean conscience, who nevertheless gets questioned by any authority.

What situations to think of?

This article is not of any help for those who are involved in fraud and other activities that cannot see the full light of the day. They know well enough that they are doing something wrong and my advice on how to avoid misunderstandings in communication with authorities will not help them.

The situations to think of are applications for visa, for a residential status based on a relationship, an asylum-request, basically any situation, also not related to migration law at all, in which any case based on the validity of the information provided, a decision will be taken.

In those situations one must provide truthful, correct and precise information. That information will be cross-checked with other information, and the outcome of that process will be the basis for the decision in your case.

How does it work in The Netherlands?

The manner of working of the people who ask the question on behalf of any authority is to follow a standard pattern. The pattern is partly the result of legal requirements but also the result of cultural element. The legal part of the story is usually not a problem at all. The cultural part is the detail with the devil in it.

In the Dutch culture it is normal to give straight forward answers, no matter who is asking the questions. If you do not know the answer, just say so. If you consider a question too private, say so and do not give an answer. This is the cultural background of the official who asks the questions, me as a lawyer who is dealing with the case when trouble starts and of the judge who is judging such a case. Those who do not accept that and say, we are from another culture and do things in our own manner are taking a risky path. I advise them to learn as quickly as possible how things work in the country they intend to live in.

What are the common mistakes?

First mistake is that people think that just by saying something, that is enough and they should believe their words. Sadly, things cannot work like that. If you something, substantiate your statement with verifiable evidence. For example, you apply for a visa and say I will not overstay the requested visa because I have my own company to attend to. Then present the evidence that the company exist. This can be checked and if proven to be reliable that is good.

Second mistake is that people think they have to answer all questions and have to give “the right answers”. That might work in school where you are likely to get more credits for any attempted answer no matter how silly than for no answer at all. In real life it does not work like that.

This often cause trouble in cases where there is a simultaneous hearing. In such a situation there is a list of identical questions for two people, usually migrant and referent in cases where there is doubt about the relationship.

Imagine a question like, how many uncles does your partner have, what are their names and how do they make a living? If your partner says, four uncles, their names are (-), two of them drive a truck, one is a fisherman and the other is a shopkeeper.

If you do not know all their names or you are not sure of the way they make their living, then just say so and tell what you know about them for sure. That is an honest statement!

If you are making up an answer, maybe embellish it a bit, and your answer is cross-checked with the answer of your partner, then there is a problem. There is a serious inconsistency in your story, there are doubts about the honesty of the answers and that is the beginning of a big problem. One or two of those “invented answers” further down the line and the conclusion is likely to be that the relationship between the migrant and the referent does not qualify as a genuine relationship and for that reason the permit must be rejected.

Is there an advice to avoid such problems?

Yes there is and it is an incredibly simple one. Just tell the truth and just as important, nothing but the truth. The truth is part of your history and is engraved in your memory. You do not have to think hard to make it up. You just memorize it. If there is a part of it you do not memorize well, just say I do not remember. If you do not know an answer to the question, then the answer is, I do not know.

If you consider a commonly asked question like “Do you and your partner have tattoos or piercings and if so on which part of the body?” just say so, if you don’t mind the question, but if you do not know the answer, just say so. Not everyone does his/her thing in the bright light of day.

What is important is that you give a truthful and straight forward answer always, which could also be not giving an answer and giving the motivation for that.

That in my experience is understood by those who ask the questions and might not be any problem for the lawyer and the judge.

What to do when you want to visit our office?

If you have a case concerning immigration law or you are in immigration detention, we are able to support you. Of course our office does not only practice immigration law but also can we help in cases of family law, problems with welfare, employment, the landlord, criminal law, labour law and so on.

Since in our office several lawyers work with their own specialism, it is important to make clear what the problem is, so an appointment can be made with a lawyer that is qualified to handle your case.

Readers who are in need of legal support are welcome to visit our office for a free consultation.

Have a look at our web-site www.skv-advocatenkantoor.nl to learn more about our office.

Readers are welcome to visit our office but of course, only after you made an appointment. For an appointment call 070 – 427 3215 and explain our secretary what your question is.

Do not hold information back because our secretary will decide if and when an appointment is possible and which lawyer from our office is best qualified for the specific problem.

When you come to the appointment bring all information that is available. Only then we can judge the case and do we make good use of time.

Want to visit our office?

Of course our office does not only practice immigration law, but also family law, criminal law labour law and so on. Since several lawyers work in our office with their own specialism, it is important to make clear what the problem is, so an appointment can be made with a lawyer that is qualified to handle your case.

Readers are therefore welcome to visit our office for FREE consultation and for support with the application. Have a look at our website www.skv-advocatenkantoor.nl to learn more about our office.

For an appointment call 070 427 3215 and explain to our Secretary what your question is.

To learn more about our office, you can also take a look at our web-site: www.skv-advocatenkantoor.nl

Do not hold information back because our Secretary will decide if and when an appointment is possible and which of our lawyers is best qualified for the specific problem.

When you come to the appointment, bring all information that is available. Only then can we judge the case and do make good use of the time.

*A.G. Kleijweg. Balen van Andelplein 2e, 2273 KH Voorburg – 070.427.3215 – kleijweg@skv-advocatenkantoor.nl / mail@skv-advocatenkantoor.nl

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