For many immigrants, the thought of going to court is scary. Depending on your circumstances, court proceedings might result in deportation or other setbacks in your immigration process. Having the right help and being careful to follow all of the rules in place for your specific situation are obviously important.

However, the way you present yourself in court will also matter. Judges are humans prone to the same kinds of prejudices as anyone else. Before you ever say a word to the judge in the courtroom, they will likely have made some kind of judgment about you based on the way that you look when you appear in court. That judgment often takes a fraction of a second and stems entirely from your appearance.

Planning carefully for both your personal appearance and your wardrobe might give you a better chance of success during immigration hearings.

It is okay to honor your background or faith

Many immigrants facing an imminent court appearance might think that their best way of convincing a judge of their intention to integrate into American society will involve them dressing like their neighbors. There’s no question that suits and professional clothing can help you appear competent in court.

However, if you traditionally dress in culturally-appropriate clothing or have garments that your religion mandates that you wear, you can still dress in a way that honors your belief and your heritage while looking appropriate for court. The exact style of clothing that you wear will matter less in most cases than the details about how you present yourself.

The little things matter when you have to go to court

Regardless of whether you intend to wear traditional cultural clothing or western garb to your immigration hearing, the clothing you wear should be clean, well-fitting and demure or conservative in appearance. Even your shoes should be clean and appropriate.

Extremely revealing clothing, brands associated with street violence and dirty or unkempt clothing can all create a negative impression on the judge and others at your hearing. In addition to your clothing, you also want to pay attention to your face and your hair. Keeping yourself clean and presentable and your hairstyle will help you demonstrate that you are responsible and a good addition to the citizenry.