How to Ace the Marriage Green Card Interview
The final step in the marriage green card process is the interview. The primary goal of the interviewing officer is to assess the authenticity of your marriage and determining whether the foreign spouse qualifies for a green card. Green card interviews conducted within the United States are handled by USCIS, and green card interviews held abroad are done by the U.S. State Department. This can be a stressful and invasive process, however knowing what to expect and assembling an organized file to bring to the interview can make it less stressful. Here are some helpful tips on preparing for and attending the green card interview.
Preparing for the Interview:
Refresh your memories during the week before your interview and go over key dates and events pertaining to the history of your relationship.
Prepare the original documents of all copies you submitted to the government in your green card application package (passports, birth certificates, marriage certificate, court records, prior divorce documents, etc.).
Prepare copies of more documents that help prove the authenticity of your marriage (recent photos together, birth certificates of any children you’ve had together, joint income tax returns, joint property documents, etc.) if you and your spouse are living in different countries it would be wise to include copies of travel itineraries for vacations took together and copies of phone records to show that you talk on the phone regularly.
Ensure all of your documents listed above are in a folder and organize all photos chronologically with descriptions of the photos including dates.
At the Interview:
The interview questions will usually focus on the history of your relationship, your daily activities as a married couple, and future plans you have together.
1. Always be on time for your appointment, plan to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to your appointment.
2. You should dress as if you’re going to a job interview, formally and conservatively.
3. Listen and respond to the the USCIS officer’s questions. The USCIS officer is only given a short amount of time to conduct the green card interview for each couple. Keep your answers brief and to the point.
4. Do not guess on anything, answer every question honestly. If you don’t know the answer to a question asked, it’s better to say “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember” instead of making something up.
It is common for a couple in the United States to be interviewed by the same USCIS officer together. However, occasionally couples will be interviewed separately by the same officer. This type of interview is referred to as a “Stokes” interview. Often, officers from USCIS’ Fraud Detection and Nation Security unit (FDNS) will conduct these interviews. After each spouse is interviewed separately, their answers are then compared for inconsistencies. A couple that has interviewed once could be called in a second time for a Stokes interview.
Post Interview, there are typically five possible outcomes to a green card interview:
2. Request for Evidence (RFE)- the officer will issue an RFE for more information, usually the RFE will ask for extra documentary proof that your relationship is authentic.
3. Additional Review- if this happens, the officer will inform you that your case needs additional review, and you must wait for either a final decision or additional next steps to arrive via mail.
4. Second Interview- the officer will invite you for a second interview to further clarify certain areas of your relationship or background and you will receive a notice form USCIS or your consulate via mail.
5. Denial- the officer can deny a case on the spot if there is clear ineligibility established at the interview. Some factors that could negatively affect the green card applicants’ eligibility include insufficient documents, issues uncovered in the background check, or immigration history issues.
Our firm has years of experience helping foreign nationals successfully file green card applications based on marriage to a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident. To contact our firm about your immigration matter call us at 321-325-1125 or leave a message at www.sapeterkinlaw.com.