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ciaobella80

N-400 Interview - some issues and I need insights

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Hello, I will have my biometrics first week of Jan. 2013 and I need to prepare or the Interview. I would like to know if I need an immigration lawyer to be present during the interview or will that be a total waste of money?

Some issues concerning my application and would like some insights whether I need more documents or if I face a possible denial of application.

1. Arrest but no charge - My husband and I had an argument at a hotel and one of the hotel guests or the hotel admin called the police to mediate. Long story short, they arrested me for slapping my husband due to his confession of multiple cheating while I was away on vacation. I was not charged and did not even appear in court. I obtained a clearance from the police department that arrested me and it shows that I have no criminal records. Do I need to obtain a court clearance regarding the dismissal although I did not appear in court?

2. Travels - I've been out of the country since 2010. My travel dates are as follows;

First trip - 7 months (Nov 28, 2010 until June 30, 2011)

Second trip - 5 mos and 25 days (Dec 23, 2011 to June 15, 2012)

Third Trip (with a reentry permit) - (Aug 15, 2012 - Nov, 2012)

These trips were taken to set-up the back office for our US LLC, and being the more culturally-knowledgeable spouse as regards setting up a business in my home country, it was my job to set-up everything from the ground up and hire a few employees there to support our U.S. operations. We also got a client that required me to be abroad to train people - but everything is billed from the U.S.

I obtained a reentry permit on Aug 15 so I could extend my stay abroad.

What documents do I need to present in order to justify my 7 months stay abroad during the first trip?

3. IRS and State taxes overdue - When we were hit by the recession in 2008, we lost everything and we ended up owing IRS some taxes; but we are working with the IRS and we entered into some sort of payment agreement with them and we've been religiously paying our overdue taxes monthly since then. I attached the letter of agreement from the IRS in my application.

All these seem a bit overwhelming on my part and I am seriously considering getting an immigration attorney to be with me during the interview; however, I also heard stories that they just sit there and don't even say anything during the interview unless it has something to do with arrest or overstaying abroad.

Do you foresee any problems that I may encounter during the interview? Should I retain a lawyer?

I appreciate your insights in advance.

Edited by ciaobella80

"What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve." - Napoleon Hill

N400

12/6/12 - Filed N400 application

12/18/12 - NOA

1/8/13 - Biometrics appointment (rescheduled)

1/18/13 - Biometrics appointment (rescheduled)

2/11/13 - Biometrics appointment

2/5/13 - Yellow notice received

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For the arrest that happened in the hotel then you MUST need to have a dismissal, either by the Police or the Court even though criminal charges were not formally filed. You should also get the Police report/arrest complaint along with dismissal. Make sure to get certified copy of these documents. That means you are going back to them and ask them to provide you the certified copy. A certified copy carries a stamp of the document-issued authority or court. Arrest would certainly be shown in your background check, so USCIS would know about it anyway. Thus, you must disclose it on your application and must submit documentation (dismissal) about it along with your application.

As for the seven months' trip outside the U.S. then it's not a problem. Only time it causes a problem when there is multiple trip longer than 6 months outside the U.S. Thus, don't even worry about it at all. Just make sure to bring with you to the interview some documentations to prove that you did not abandon your residency in the US such as tax documents, mails, ID, etc...

As for owing to IRS then its not a problem at all so long you could present a payment arrangement from IRS. Millions of people owe money to IRS and they do get naturalized but USCIS wants to make sure that applicants do have a payment arrangement than just being on default and purposely avoiding their tax obligations to Uncle Sam.

You may hire an attorney, but trust me attorney will not do anything because there is no issue at all. Attorney can not arrange documents for you on above issues. You have to arrange these documents by yourself anyway. So long you would have these documents, USCIS would not deny your application. But if you will not have these documents then even hiring an attorney wouldn't stop denying of your application.

I assure you that you will NOT have any problem whatsoever. I've seen far worse cases being approved so long documentations are there. Your arrest is nothing. Your 7 months' single trip outside the trip is nothing while I've seen people being naturalized by two 9 months trips outside the US without any re-entry permit. And USCIS can not deny naturalization application if someone owes to IRS but they do want to see that payments are being made.

If you still want to hire an attorney then its your call. Just to know that your case can not and will not be approved by the officer; rather it would need supervisory approval because whenever there is an issue then supervisor approval is mandatory.

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@Wilera059: Thank you for your very thorough and informative reply. It is exactly what I needed today as I am increasingly getting more anxious by the day.

I submitted my application first week of December and I have the biometrics appointment already on Jan. 8.

I only included in my application the certified true copy of the police clearance showing that I have not been charged with anything under my name. For the additional documentation that you mentioned, can I just bring the certified copy of the police or court dismissal along with the police report / arrest complaint during the interview?

Another question: Since I have a reentry permit, after my biometrics, can I go on a trip abroad and come back on a short notice for my interview? It is my understanding that trips abroad during the naturalization application process are totally fine.

Regarding the lawyer, I think I am OK handling this on my own. You are correct: I will just have to present all the documents, and I have all of them with me.

@Wilera059: Thank you for your very thorough and informative reply. It is exactly what I needed today as I am increasingly getting more anxious by the day.

I submitted my application first week of December and I have the biometrics appointment already on Jan. 8.

I only included in my application the certified true copy of the police clearance showing that I have not been charged with anything under my name. For the additional documentation that you mentioned, can I just bring the certified copy of the police or court dismissal along with the police report / arrest complaint during the interview?

Another question: Since I have a reentry permit, after my biometrics, can I go on a trip abroad and come back on a short notice for my interview? It is my understanding that trips abroad during the naturalization application process are totally fine, plus I have a travel document with me.

Regarding the lawyer, I think I am OK handling this on my own. You are correct: I will just have to present all the documents, and I have all of them with me.


"What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve." - Napoleon Hill

N400

12/6/12 - Filed N400 application

12/18/12 - NOA

1/8/13 - Biometrics appointment (rescheduled)

1/18/13 - Biometrics appointment (rescheduled)

2/11/13 - Biometrics appointment

2/5/13 - Yellow notice received

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@Wilera059: Thank you for your very thorough and informative reply. It is exactly what I needed today as I am increasingly getting more anxious by the day.

I submitted my application first week of December and I have the biometrics appointment already on Jan. 8.

I only included in my application the certified true copy of the police clearance showing that I have not been charged with anything under my name. For the additional documentation that you mentioned, can I just bring the certified copy of the police or court dismissal along with the police report / arrest complaint during the interview?

Another question: Since I have a reentry permit, after my biometrics, can I go on a trip abroad and come back on a short notice for my interview? It is my understanding that trips abroad during the naturalization application process are totally fine.

Regarding the lawyer, I think I am OK handling this on my own. You are correct: I will just have to present all the documents, and I have all of them with me.

@Wilera059: Thank you for your very thorough and informative reply. It is exactly what I needed today as I am increasingly getting more anxious by the day.

I submitted my application first week of December and I have the biometrics appointment already on Jan. 8.

I only included in my application the certified true copy of the police clearance showing that I have not been charged with anything under my name. For the additional documentation that you mentioned, can I just bring the certified copy of the police or court dismissal along with the police report / arrest complaint during the interview?

Another question: Since I have a reentry permit, after my biometrics, can I go on a trip abroad and come back on a short notice for my interview? It is my understanding that trips abroad during the naturalization application process are totally fine, plus I have a travel document with me.

Regarding the lawyer, I think I am OK handling this on my own. You are correct: I will just have to present all the documents, and I have all of them with me.

I am almost in the same situation as you on the arrest and have got a lot of advice, suggestions, done reading from VJ's users and online. On the dismissal, you said you have not being charged, does it mean the charge is pending? Dismissal also would depends on how the arrest was dismissed. Mine was pretrial diversion and it was dismissed without me admitting to the accusations. If they made you do some community service and put you on a probation, then the arrest becomes something to be worried about. Thus, I would recommend a lawyer if that was the case. Generally, your arrest was a battery even if a charge was filed since there was no intent to harm and wouldn't fall under the CIMT. Give us details on your arrest and dismissal. Your trips and especially tax questions are more complicate for me to comment.


Naturalization

04/08/2013 - N-400 Mailed

07/22/2013 - N-400 Recommended for approval

08/13/2013 - Oath Ceremony

Officially a US citizen.

08/20/2013 - I-130 for Mom mailed

09/02/2013 - NOA received

03/04/2014 - I-130 Approval

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Hi soundedguy, thanks for the reply.

Regarding my arrest, I was detained overnight, posted bail the next day (DV is a felony in CA) so I got released. I hired some lawyers, they talked to the DA, and then after a few days the lawyers called me that I do not need to appear in court because the DA had decided not to press charges against me. It was actually clear in the arrest records that the reason I slapped my husband was he confessed he cheated on me multiple times with different women while I was away on vacation.

This means I was not even charged with anything, nor did I plead guilty to anything. I did not even appear in court.

Here's the thing: I think my lawyers knew that this was a very easy case and they knew right off the bat that I won't be charged with anything, but kept on delaying telling me the news until the day I was supposed to appear in court. I waited and waited and then one of the lawyers called to deliver the good news and he specifically told me that I didn't have to do anything -- so basically I was free to go. I thought this was a tactic that they used so I'd be impressed by their negotiation skills. Of course, at that time, I just wanted them to resolve the problem for me.


"What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve." - Napoleon Hill

N400

12/6/12 - Filed N400 application

12/18/12 - NOA

1/8/13 - Biometrics appointment (rescheduled)

1/18/13 - Biometrics appointment (rescheduled)

2/11/13 - Biometrics appointment

2/5/13 - Yellow notice received

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Hi soundedguy, thanks for the reply.

Regarding my arrest, I was detained overnight, posted bail the next day (DV is a felony in CA) so I got released. I hired some lawyers, they talked to the DA, and then after a few days the lawyers called me that I do not need to appear in court because the DA had decided not to press charges against me. It was actually clear in the arrest records that the reason I slapped my husband was he confessed he cheated on me multiple times with different women while I was away on vacation.

This means I was not even charged with anything, nor did I plead guilty to anything. I did not even appear in court.

Here's the thing: I think my lawyers knew that this was a very easy case and they knew right off the bat that I won't be charged with anything, but kept on delaying telling me the news until the day I was supposed to appear in court. I waited and waited and then one of the lawyers called to deliver the good news and he specifically told me that I didn't have to do anything -- so basically I was free to go. I thought this was a tactic that they used so I'd be impressed by their negotiation skills. Of course, at that time, I just wanted them to resolve the problem for me.

Your lawyer definitely got you a good deal and that's a good thing. The next step would be preparing yourself on how you would defend yourself during the interview. I believe USCIS could access the police record and see what we give as statement. If you told the officer you slapped him then that's something you should prepare very well to defend during interview. If you didn't admit to the slap before the officer and tell the IO you didn't slap him then no cause for alarm. I also have no idea if an IO would deny your application for admitting slapping. Hopefully some VJ family member can help us on this.


Naturalization

04/08/2013 - N-400 Mailed

07/22/2013 - N-400 Recommended for approval

08/13/2013 - Oath Ceremony

Officially a US citizen.

08/20/2013 - I-130 for Mom mailed

09/02/2013 - NOA received

03/04/2014 - I-130 Approval

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Your lawyer definitely got you a good deal and that's a good thing. The next step would be preparing yourself on how you would defend yourself during the interview. I believe USCIS could access the police record and see what we give as statement. If you told the officer you slapped him then that's something you should prepare very well to defend during interview. If you didn't admit to the slap before the officer and tell the IO you didn't slap him then no cause for alarm. I also have no idea if an IO would deny your application for admitting slapping. Hopefully some VJ family member can help us on this.

An interview for immigration benefit is not like you are defending yourself in a criminal court against criminal charge. In an interview you don't defend yourself; rather you prove your statements made on the application or prove your eligibility for the benefit. Secondly, even if people go with your "wording" of preparing on how to "defend" during the interview then there is NOTHING anyone could do except collecting and providing documents relating to issues. All these "defending" tactic come in the picture when USCIS either denies or places someone on deportation proceedings. Thereby, collecting documents relating to the issues is the only "defend" one could do at this point. That's why even an attorney's help is not required at this time. Attorneys can not make all these past go away magically so to say their help is needed. Besides, all these so-called issues are not issues at all. I can bet on this.

One more thing, in this kind of criminal situation, it doesn't matter to USCIS who slaps to who and why; instead all USCIS is cared for arrest and dismissal. Thousands of people get arrested everyday and even criminally charged, but that doesn't mean it gets proved that they did commit the crime they are charged for. If there is no conviction then there is nothing to worry about. That's why if a dismissal is submitted then USCIS has no other choice except to grant the application. Sometimes USCIS does make mistake by denying the case but that denial get overturned in immigration courts.

And yes, there are certain crimes which fall under aggrievated felony which are considered deportable offenses and the crime mentioned above doesn't fall under that category.

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@Wilera059: Thank you for your very thorough and informative reply. It is exactly what I needed today as I am increasingly getting more anxious by the day.

I submitted my application first week of December and I have the biometrics appointment already on Jan. 8.

I only included in my application the certified true copy of the police clearance showing that I have not been charged with anything under my name. For the additional documentation that you mentioned, can I just bring the certified copy of the police or court dismissal along with the police report / arrest complaint during the interview?

Another question: Since I have a reentry permit, after my biometrics, can I go on a trip abroad and come back on a short notice for my interview? It is my understanding that trips abroad during the naturalization application process are totally fine.

Regarding the lawyer, I think I am OK handling this on my own. You are correct: I will just have to present all the documents, and I have all of them with me.

"For the additional documentation that you mentioned, can I just bring the certified copy of the police or court dismissal along with the police report / arrest complaint during the interview?"

Did I read correctly when you talk about bringing the certified copy of the Police record or Court Dismissal along with the Police Report? If so then these are the documents I'm talking about that would do the trick and would save you thousands of dollars if you choose to hire an attorney.

Since I have a reentry permit, after my biometrics, can I go on a trip abroad and come back on a short notice for my interview?

With or without re-entry permit, you can go on a trip abroad at any time during the process of your naturalization interview. I'm sure you know so well that staying outside of US for continuing 6 months without re-entry permit could cause a bit problem at the airport but not for naturalization application because your application certainly be decided within 6 months which means you must be coming back before the 6 months. Just remember that until you take oath, you are still a LPR and all the rules/conditions of being a LPR still apply to you to keep your residency. In short, you can go on a trip without a problem so long you won't miss any notices/mails from USCIS. One more thing, there is a very high possibility that you might get a Yellow letter from USCIS, but you need to disregard that because USCIS does send that letter to applicants sometimes whenever an issue is disclosed on an application. That letter is nothing just a reminder to let the applicants know what could be asked to them at the interview.

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I am back to the US finally and had my biometrics done yesterday. I was supposed to have it on Jan 8 but I was still abroad and ended up moving the date twice. THe 3rd biometrics date that they gave me is Feb 11, 2013. I'm done with that already

I did receive a yellow letter from the USCIS asking me to bring 4 documents: payment agreement with the IRS, my CA ID or Drivers License (I have neither yet), my old and new passports and my travel permit, and my court documents and original arrest records. These are so many issues and I wonder if these will have negative effects in my application. I'm quite nervous already.


"What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve." - Napoleon Hill

N400

12/6/12 - Filed N400 application

12/18/12 - NOA

1/8/13 - Biometrics appointment (rescheduled)

1/18/13 - Biometrics appointment (rescheduled)

2/11/13 - Biometrics appointment

2/5/13 - Yellow notice received

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I am back to the US finally and had my biometrics done yesterday. I was supposed to have it on Jan 8 but I was still abroad and ended up moving the date twice. THe 3rd biometrics date that they gave me is Feb 11, 2013. I'm done with that already

I did receive a yellow letter from the USCIS asking me to bring 4 documents: payment agreement with the IRS, my CA ID or Drivers License (I have neither yet), my old and new passports and my travel permit, and my court documents and original arrest records. These are so many issues and I wonder if these will have negative effects in my application. I'm quite nervous already.

ciaobella80, I'm in the boat with you. I was involved in an arguement with my wife and she called and accused me I pulled her hair which got me arrested. The DA didn't press no charge and I did obtain a certified letter from the DA saying no charges were filed and a certified letter from the court showing my arrest. You were very brave to travel overseas. I'm dying every single minute of the day regretting even arguing and what my interview would be like when I file for N400. I refuse to travel overseas until I naturalize. I realized you said you slapped your wife or something. That alone is enough for the DA to put you on probation and you need to quit saying that. If you admit that during your interview, you might have problem. You need to come up a way to explain the incident incase they ask you that's why it won't be a bad investment hiring an attorney. Also make sure those documents are certified. During your return back to the country, did they fingerprint you? Did they send you for a secondary inspection? Did they ask you questions concerning the arrest? To be honest, go consult with an immigration attorney even if you don't hire them and have them advice you. No mistake is worth it this last stage of the immigration process.


Naturalization

04/08/2013 - N-400 Mailed

07/22/2013 - N-400 Recommended for approval

08/13/2013 - Oath Ceremony

Officially a US citizen.

08/20/2013 - I-130 for Mom mailed

09/02/2013 - NOA received

03/04/2014 - I-130 Approval

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ciaobella80, I'm in the boat with you. I was involved in an arguement with my wife and she called and accused me I pulled her hair which got me arrested. The DA didn't press no charge and I did obtain a certified letter from the DA saying no charges were filed and a certified letter from the court showing my arrest. You were very brave to travel overseas. I'm dying every single minute of the day regretting even arguing and what my interview would be like when I file for N400. I refuse to travel overseas until I naturalize. I realized you said you slapped your wife or something. That alone is enough for the DA to put you on probation and you need to quit saying that. If you admit that during your interview, you might have problem. You need to come up a way to explain the incident incase they ask you that's why it won't be a bad investment hiring an attorney. Also make sure those documents are certified. During your return back to the country, did they fingerprint you? Did they send you for a secondary inspection? Did they ask you questions concerning the arrest? To be honest, go consult with an immigration attorney even if you don't hire them and have them advice you. No mistake is worth it this last stage of the immigration process.

Hi soundedguy,

I am a female, early 30s, and yes I did slap my husband when he confessed he cheated on me on multiple occasions when I was away. For that I was arrested.

I retained 3 criminal defense lawyers just so the DA won't press charges against me. I think they did a great job - I didn't appear in court.

I had to travel overseas to take care of business. I obtained a travel permit before I left after my arrest just in case I'll stay there for more than 6 months.

The downside: whenever I go out of the country and return to the U.S., the immigration officer has to run my fingerprints and the system shows that I had a prior arrest. It doesn't show whether I've been charged or not. It's standard operation procedure for them to "invite" you to the immigration office for questioning. When I entered the U.S. twice with a prior arrest, I had to be fearless and inform them that I was not charged. The first time I gave out vague details of the incident but left out incriminating information such as slapping my husband and advised the immigration office that they should instead talk to my lawyer and I am not in a position to give away the details. The IO was discreet and understood me and even said sorry. He suggested that the next time I enter the U.S. I should bring with me a court clearance or a police clearance that shows I was only arrested and not charged.

During my second entry to the U.S. last week, the I.O. was kinder - and he said, "Just so you know, as an LPR we run your fingerprints; but if I were you I'd apply to be a citizen so all this will go away. It's SOP for us to bring you to the office for clarification about your arrest."

This time I have a police clearance that shows no criminal records, and the fact that I had gone through this already before through the same airport (SFO) helps as well. The IOs inside understood my case, especially when it's a domestic violence arrest because they said they have cases like that all the time and bad things happen in a marriage. They also informed me that I wasn't there because I got charged of something (again they reiterated that the system doesn't say the outcome of the arrest) and it's good that I have a police clearance and a travel document with me coz these documents make things easier for them and me.

On both occasions, I spent almost 1 hour at the immigration office, 55 minutes of that I spent waiting on queue (there were others who were questioned for questionable documents and those who are on business visa), and the "questioning" part only lasted 2-3 minutes.

My mantra is "always face your fear" and I am now waiting for my citizenship interview. If I am approved I will be very glad. If not, I opted to wait until I am qualified to be a citizen. I will have no qualms if I am rejected this time. Come to think of it: I was never a U.S. citizen prior to this application so a rejection won't change a thing. I realize that many of the people in my home country have to go through hoops and sell everything to have access to the U.S. as tourists and MANY people here are illegal aliens, which is worse than being questioned at the U.S. immigration. Being a green card holder and have access to the U.S. to work and do business is enough for me - I am grateful for that - but at times I get so exhausted and stressed out, but I would like to stay positive and re-channel my energy to more productive things.

By the way guys, I decided not to hire an attorney.

Edited by ciaobella80

"What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve." - Napoleon Hill

N400

12/6/12 - Filed N400 application

12/18/12 - NOA

1/8/13 - Biometrics appointment (rescheduled)

1/18/13 - Biometrics appointment (rescheduled)

2/11/13 - Biometrics appointment

2/5/13 - Yellow notice received

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Sorry for the confusion about your gender and really do appreciate you sharing all these useful informations.You have alot of courage and a very strong lady. The past is the past and shouldn't be duelled on. I'm optimistic you would be approved of your citizenship and please let me know how everything went. It's easy for an IO to say they get domestic violence cases often like it's not a big deal for them but yet it's a deportable offence for we non-citizens. I have expunged my arrest from my record but was able to get a court certified letter and letter from the DA showing no charges were filed which I will be taking with me during my interview.

I'm wishing you luck and will be praying everything goes well for you. I would get a letter from your husband about the incident that he was to blame to take to the interview. Good luck once again.


Naturalization

04/08/2013 - N-400 Mailed

07/22/2013 - N-400 Recommended for approval

08/13/2013 - Oath Ceremony

Officially a US citizen.

08/20/2013 - I-130 for Mom mailed

09/02/2013 - NOA received

03/04/2014 - I-130 Approval

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Things happened in marriage. Goodluck to the both of you and thank you for sharing your stories. Please keep us posted on the interview appointment and the outcome of it. There are little to none stories with a N400 result on this forum regarding about DV so your insights would be extremely helpful for everyone in the same boat in the future!

Again, i hope you two pass and best of luck! :dance:

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Hi guys, quick recap of what happened during the interview and the outcome.

I got back to the US on February 7 and decided to stay here until May, mainly to appear for the citizenship interview.

DURING THE INTERVIEW IN SAN FRANCISCO

I wasn't nervous going to the interview. All week and all night prior to my interview, I had a clear visual imagery of a nice immigration officer, and indeed I got assigned to someone who never failed to smile and was really nice to me all throughout.

If you've read my previous posts, you know that I have the following issues in my application: I've been arrested for domestic violence last year but no charge has been filed; I have overdue taxes for 3 years amounting to $80,000++ both state and IRS; and I have traveled for 557 days out of 3.8 years that I've been a resident (they only allow 548 days).

I aced the oral and written exam (very easy since they give you some materials to study); I also answered all questions correctly. He said, "Great job! You answered all the questions correctly!"

ARREST ISSUE - During the interview, the IO said, "I know you have some court documents for me... I will look at them later." Then when he was ready, he looked at the following documents: 1. Original copy of the police clearance that I got from SF Police Department; 2. Original copy of my arrest record showing the date of the arrest and the outcome that I got from SF Police Department as well); 3. Original copy of the court disposition of my arrest that I got from the SF Court)

The IO asked me what happened during the day I was arrested and I gave a VAGUE account of it (TIP: Never give a very detailed account of the incident leading to the arrest, and NEVER mention details that would incriminate yourself.) He was sympathetic and told me not to worry about it coz my case has been discharged. He also said that arrests happen all the time but a discharged outcome does not affect the application. He said, "Your arrest is OK, don't worry about this."

MY OVERDUE TAXES FOR 3 YEARS - I showed him 3 documents: 1. Installment agreement with the California Tax Board that shows a monthly installment plan instead of a one-off plan 2. An appeal letter to the IRS in 2010 and the IRS response saying it's OK to halt tax payments for two years until I am ready to pay (I was experiencing hardship at that time coz we lost everything in stock market options); 3. The new installment agreement with IRS to shows an installment payment plan to slowly pay-off my taxes, commencing on January this year.

He reviewed all the documents and said..."It seems like you earned a lot in the past and it's good that you have these agreements with the IRS and tax board. I understand you want to pay these all off. Good thing you were able to ask for an installment agreement with the CA Tax board and the IRS." I told him that I am slowly recovering and will be paying everything off in no time.

MY TRAVELS OUTSIDE OF THE US - He said that I am only allowed to travel for 548 days out of 3 years immediately before I filed my application.

He checked my travels and my passports and said, "I have not interviewed anyone who traveled as much as you did in the last 3 years." He asked me a lot of questions and I gave him honest answers. The main reason I had to travel was I had to set-up a cost center in Manila to augment our business in the U.S.; and that I have been declaring my worldwide income as US income and paid my taxes every year. Also, it was impossible for me to continue doing business if I couldn't keep my operations expenses low. I also stated that I had to set-up a cost office, hire staff, and train them and that required considerable amount of time on my part.

He said they're very strict with the travel requirements and if I only exceed 1 day, he will deny my application; but he also said, "But you can always reapply but the next time you reapply, you have to count the days and be careful with the number of days spent outside of the U.S." He said he has to count every single day that I spent outside of the US in the last 3 years. At the end of the interview, he handed me a document that says, "Unable to make a decision right now."

When I got home, I counted the days that I traveled out of the U.S. I got a total of 557. That's an excess of 9 days! So, I got sad and was almost certain I wouldn't be approved; however, I was also hoping that they'd approve me because before I left the immigration office, I wrote down a detailed explanation of my travels. I also told the officer to please look at all my documents and all the reasons I had to travel -- that it was out of necessity so I could earn a living. He said, don't worry I will look at everything.

Before I left, I told him. "You're so nice. I wish my future IOs would be as nice as you are." He said, "Thank you for saying that."

Two days after my interview, I got calls from an anonymous number. When I called, it says it's a private number. I thought it was a solicitation call so I ignored it. I got a total of 12 calls that I ignored.

Today (Monday, March 25), I got 2 calls from the same number and I ignored it as well. Then i got a voicemail. When I listened to it, it was the IO officer, asking me to call him back through his direct number because he said he has a question for me.

I called him, and he said, "Thanks for finally getting back to me, I had been calling you! I am not supposed to leave my personal information but I was worried you won't get my message." And then he told me that he cannot eliminate my middle name for my new name and wanted to inform me that they have to retain it as my middle name. He also said, "By the way, your application has no problems so I approved you."

I was almost speechless and semi-shocked coz I thought I'd be denied. I thanked him over and over again and he said, "Congratulations, please wait for your oath notice in the mail." We chatted further and he asked me if I have other questions. I said none anymore and then thanked him again.

Some lessons that I learned:

1. Do not worry - worry won't add another day to your life.

2. Don't be afraid to face your fears. I have read some posts in the forums about some people who refuse to travel because of an arrest record despite the discharged outcome of the arrest. Not all immigration officers are ruthless. I always imagine / pray for kind immigration officers and I always get assigned to the nice ones at the airport or even this IO who interviewed me. I discovered that many IOs won't discriminate as long as you can show proof that your arrest has been discharged. After my arrest in Aug 2012, I went out of the country twice for a total of 5 months and entered the U.S. twice and got questioned twice at the immigration office. I never felt discriminated against nor harassed.

3. Be thorough in submitting all your documents especially if you have issues like I did.

4. Do not be nervous during the interview. Nervousness has no basis. Be calm and collected. During the interview, try to assert yourself and make sure you give some written or oral explanations of each of the issues involved. This is what I did -- i was very thorough in explaining and made sure the IO understood where I was coming from.

5. Have faith in mankind. Not all IOs mean to make your life difficult.

Thanks all, and hope you got something out of my posts here.


"What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve." - Napoleon Hill

N400

12/6/12 - Filed N400 application

12/18/12 - NOA

1/8/13 - Biometrics appointment (rescheduled)

1/18/13 - Biometrics appointment (rescheduled)

2/11/13 - Biometrics appointment

2/5/13 - Yellow notice received

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Hi guys, quick recap of what happened during the interview and the outcome.

I got back to the US on February 7 and decided to stay here until May, mainly to appear for the citizenship interview.

DURING THE INTERVIEW IN SAN FRANCISCO

I wasn't nervous going to the interview. All week and all night prior to my interview, I had a clear visual imagery of a nice immigration officer, and indeed I got assigned to someone who never failed to smile and was really nice to me all throughout.

If you've read my previous posts, you know that I have the following issues in my application: I've been arrested for domestic violence last year but no charge has been filed; I have overdue taxes for 3 years amounting to $80,000++ both state and IRS; and I have traveled for 557 days out of 3.8 years that I've been a resident (they only allow 548 days).

I aced the oral and written exam (very easy since they give you some materials to study); I also answered all questions correctly. He said, "Great job! You answered all the questions correctly!"

ARREST ISSUE - During the interview, the IO said, "I know you have some court documents for me... I will look at them later." Then when he was ready, he looked at the following documents: 1. Original copy of the police clearance that I got from SF Police Department; 2. Original copy of my arrest record showing the date of the arrest and the outcome that I got from SF Police Department as well); 3. Original copy of the court disposition of my arrest that I got from the SF Court)

The IO asked me what happened during the day I was arrested and I gave a VAGUE account of it (TIP: Never give a very detailed account of the incident leading to the arrest, and NEVER mention details that would incriminate yourself.) He was sympathetic and told me not to worry about it coz my case has been discharged. He also said that arrests happen all the time but a discharged outcome does not affect the application. He said, "Your arrest is OK, don't worry about this."

MY OVERDUE TAXES FOR 3 YEARS - I showed him 3 documents: 1. Installment agreement with the California Tax Board that shows a monthly installment plan instead of a one-off plan 2. An appeal letter to the IRS in 2010 and the IRS response saying it's OK to halt tax payments for two years until I am ready to pay (I was experiencing hardship at that time coz we lost everything in stock market options); 3. The new installment agreement with IRS to shows an installment payment plan to slowly pay-off my taxes, commencing on January this year.

He reviewed all the documents and said..."It seems like you earned a lot in the past and it's good that you have these agreements with the IRS and tax board. I understand you want to pay these all off. Good thing you were able to ask for an installment agreement with the CA Tax board and the IRS." I told him that I am slowly recovering and will be paying everything off in no time.

MY TRAVELS OUTSIDE OF THE US - He said that I am only allowed to travel for 548 days out of 3 years immediately before I filed my application.

He checked my travels and my passports and said, "I have not interviewed anyone who traveled as much as you did in the last 3 years." He asked me a lot of questions and I gave him honest answers. The main reason I had to travel was I had to set-up a cost center in Manila to augment our business in the U.S.; and that I have been declaring my worldwide income as US income and paid my taxes every year. Also, it was impossible for me to continue doing business if I couldn't keep my operations expenses low. I also stated that I had to set-up a cost office, hire staff, and train them and that required considerable amount of time on my part.

He said they're very strict with the travel requirements and if I only exceed 1 day, he will deny my application; but he also said, "But you can always reapply but the next time you reapply, you have to count the days and be careful with the number of days spent outside of the U.S." He said he has to count every single day that I spent outside of the US in the last 3 years. At the end of the interview, he handed me a document that says, "Unable to make a decision right now."

When I got home, I counted the days that I traveled out of the U.S. I got a total of 557. That's an excess of 9 days! So, I got sad and was almost certain I wouldn't be approved; however, I was also hoping that they'd approve me because before I left the immigration office, I wrote down a detailed explanation of my travels. I also told the officer to please look at all my documents and all the reasons I had to travel -- that it was out of necessity so I could earn a living. He said, don't worry I will look at everything.

Before I left, I told him. "You're so nice. I wish my future IOs would be as nice as you are." He said, "Thank you for saying that."

Two days after my interview, I got calls from an anonymous number. When I called, it says it's a private number. I thought it was a solicitation call so I ignored it. I got a total of 12 calls that I ignored.

Today (Monday, March 25), I got 2 calls from the same number and I ignored it as well. Then i got a voicemail. When I listened to it, it was the IO officer, asking me to call him back through his direct number because he said he has a question for me.

I called him, and he said, "Thanks for finally getting back to me, I had been calling you! I am not supposed to leave my personal information but I was worried you won't get my message." And then he told me that he cannot eliminate my middle name for my new name and wanted to inform me that they have to retain it as my middle name. He also said, "By the way, your application has no problems so I approved you."

I was almost speechless and semi-shocked coz I thought I'd be denied. I thanked him over and over again and he said, "Congratulations, please wait for your oath notice in the mail." We chatted further and he asked me if I have other questions. I said none anymore and then thanked him again.

Some lessons that I learned:

1. Do not worry - worry won't add another day to your life.

2. Don't be afraid to face your fears. I have read some posts in the forums about some people who refuse to travel because of an arrest record despite the discharged outcome of the arrest. Not all immigration officers are ruthless. I always imagine / pray for kind immigration officers and I always get assigned to the nice ones at the airport or even this IO who interviewed me. I discovered that many IOs won't discriminate as long as you can show proof that your arrest has been discharged. After my arrest in Aug 2012, I went out of the country twice for a total of 5 months and entered the U.S. twice and got questioned twice at the immigration office. I never felt discriminated against nor harassed.

3. Be thorough in submitting all your documents especially if you have issues like I did.

4. Do not be nervous during the interview. Nervousness has no basis. Be calm and collected. During the interview, try to assert yourself and make sure you give some written or oral explanations of each of the issues involved. This is what I did -- i was very thorough in explaining and made sure the IO understood where I was coming from.

5. Have faith in mankind. Not all IOs mean to make your life difficult.

Thanks all, and hope you got something out of my posts here.

I want to officially congratulate you for your journey. I have learned that anybody could be a victim of arrest. For a very careful and law abiding resident like me to be arrested. The law on domestic violence is so harsh that even an arguement can get you arrested.

I am happy for you. Congratulations.


Naturalization

04/08/2013 - N-400 Mailed

07/22/2013 - N-400 Recommended for approval

08/13/2013 - Oath Ceremony

Officially a US citizen.

08/20/2013 - I-130 for Mom mailed

09/02/2013 - NOA received

03/04/2014 - I-130 Approval

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