Testifying as an Immigration Evaluator: What to Expect and Tips for Preparation

preparing to testify in an immigration hearing

Testifying as an immigration evaluator can be crucial to certain immigration cases. 

While not every case requires testimony, it is essential to be prepared and understand the process when it does arise. 

In this blog post, I wanted to reflect on my experience of this process, provide some general advice on what to expect when testifying as an immigration evaluator, and provide helpful tips for effective preparation.

Types of Cases and Testimony

It is important to note that not all immigration cases involve testifying. Some cases are determined administratively, while others go before an immigration court. Typically, extreme hardship waivers are administrative matters, while cancellation of removal and asylum cases are heard before an immigration judge.

In immigration court, it is crucial to understand that the proceedings differ from criminal court. Immigration judges (IJs) do not usually issue subpoenas, and testifying as an immigration evaluator is not a common occurrence. In most cases, your written report is your testimony, and attorneys rely on its content during the proceedings.

Testifying via Teleconference

If you do find yourself in a situation where your testimony is required, it is likely that you can do so via teleconference, depending on the individual judge presiding over the case. 

Teleconferencing offers the advantage of saving time and eliminates the need for physically attending court hearings. It is essential to confirm with the court beforehand if teleconferencing is an option in your particular case.

Here are a few tips for extra preparation in this process:

  1. Prepare your technology: Ensure that you have a reliable internet connection and a device with a working microphone and camera. Test your equipment beforehand to avoid any technical glitches during the teleconference. Familiarize yourself with the teleconferencing platform (Webex) being used and have any necessary login information readily available.
  2. Create a suitable environment: Set up a quiet and well-lit space for the teleconference. Minimize distractions and background noise that may interfere with the proceedings. Make sure you are comfortable and seated in a professional manner. Consider your background and ensure it is appropriate and non-distracting.
  3. Maintain clear communication: During the teleconference, speak clearly and enunciate your words to ensure that all participants can understand you. Pay attention to the pace of your speech and avoid rushing or speaking too softly. Be attentive to cues from the judge or attorney, allowing for pauses or clarification if needed.

By following these tips and approaching the teleconference with professionalism and preparedness, you can effectively present your testimony and contribute to the immigration proceedings.

Testifying procedures and guidelines may vary, so it’s essential to consult with your attorney or legal advisor for specific advice related to the case you’re supporting with.

Preparation and Attorney Guidance

When called to testify, you should expect the attorney to prepare you beforehand. This preparation session is vital to ensure you feel confident and understand the process adequately. The attorney will review the questions they may ask and provide guidance on responding effectively.

During your testimony, you can expect to be questioned about your training and expertise as an immigration evaluator. 

This is an opportunity to demonstrate your qualifications and knowledge in the field. Be prepared to explain your credentials, educational background, and relevant experience.

Testifying Tips

When testifying, it is crucial to answer questions truthfully and accurately. If you are unsure about a particular question, it is always better to admit that you do not know the answer rather than provide a guess. 

Testifying as an immigration evaluator requires honesty and integrity, and it is essential to maintain professionalism throughout the process.

Here are some additional tips to consider:

  1. Review your report: Familiarize yourself with the content of your written report. Ensure you understand the information presented and can speak to it confidently if necessary.
  2. Stay calm and composed: Testifying can be intimidating, but it is essential to remain calm and composed. Take deep breaths and speak clearly and concisely.
  3. Listen attentively: Pay close attention to the questions being asked. Take your time before answering to fully comprehend the question and respond thoughtfully.
  4. Speak in plain language: Avoid using jargon or technical terms that may confuse the judge or attorney. Speak in clear, simple language to ensure your testimony is easily understood.
  5. Be respectful: Show respect to the judge, opposing counsel, and all individuals involved in the proceedings. Maintain a professional demeanor throughout your testimony.
  6. Take breaks if needed: If you feel overwhelmed or need a moment to collect your thoughts, do not hesitate to request a brief break. It is important to remain focused and composed throughout your testimony.

Remember: As an immigration evaluator, you provide objective and expert analysis based on your training and expertise. Your testimony can significantly impact the outcome of a case, making thorough preparation and honest communication essential.

Preparation is Key

Testifying as an immigration evaluator may not be common, but it is crucial to be prepared and knowledgeable when the situation arises. 

Understand the specific requirements of the case, communicate effectively, and rely on the guidance of the attorney you’re working with. 

Following these tips and approaching your testimony with confidence and integrity can contribute to a fair and informed immigration court process.

Cecilia Racine: Immigration Evaluation Therapist

I’m Cecilia Racine, and I teach therapists how to help immigrants through my online courses. As a bilingual immigrant myself, I know the unique perspective that these clients are experiencing. I’ve conducted over 500 evaluations and work with dozens of lawyers in various states. Immigrants are my passion, I believe they add to the fabric of our country.

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