Saturday, October 22, 2011

Preparing for the Marriage-Based Green Card Interview

Congratulations! You have received a notice from the USCIS (former INS) instructing you to appear at a local US immigration office for a green card interview!   Amidst the excitement of getting your green card, you might be worried about appearing in front of immigration authorities to answer questions about your relationship.  What if you or your spouse stumble? What if one of you doesn't recall what face cream the other one likes!?!  

Beyond what you say or don't say, know that government officials will look at the unspoken and largely be able to tell if the relationship is real, and whether you are happy or unhappy with each other that day.

When you receive the interview notice, put the time and date on the calendar for yourself AND your USC spouse, because your spouse will be required to attend the interview, too.  Review all the questions and answers to the application forms I-130, I-485, G-325 and I-864 that you filed.

In preparation for the interview, be sure to gather the following materials and documents:
  1. The Interview Appointment Notice. Take the original and a copy with you.
  2. Valid photographic identification such as your driver’s license and your social security card.
  3. Your Birth Certificate and Passport.
  4. Your spouse’s Birth Certificate or US Passport.
  5. Marriage Certificate.
  6. Copy of your I-130/I-485 petition.
  7. Two months most recent paystubs for your spouse to show his/her ability to support you financially.
  8. Documents proving the bona-fide nature of your marriage such as:
a.    Insurance Policies (car, life, health)
b.    Joint Property Documents (car, apartment of house lease or deed)
c.     Bank and Credit Statements
d.    Non-Joint Bills (one for each party, showing both of you at the same address)
e.    Wedding Photos and Photos of you and friends/family together (bring any marriage-album and any other picture album)
f.     Any Other Evidence or Marriage like cards or emails to each other.

Before you are seated you and your spouse will be sworn to tell the truth. The first set of questions may be basic, biographical questions about each other such as:

- Full name
Date of birth
- Place of birth
- Names of children, if any
- Names of parents

Followed by more personal questions about each other like how you met, your families and relatives,  outings or vacations together and questions to clarify what the officer can see in your photographs.
If the officer is not satisfied that the marriage is bona fide, he or she may separate you and your spouse during this interview or bring you back for another one. The next session will require you to answer questions about your living arrangements and your daily or regular interactions. They may have you answer written questions, like:

- Is there a carpet on the ground when you walk in the front door?

- Which way is the kitchen from the front door? Which way is the stove?

- Where did you eat after your wedding?

- Where did you go after your wedding? Right after the ceremony? any honeymoon?

- What time does each person wake up in the morning?

- What does your spouse do first thing in the morning? Last thing at night?

- How many brothers and sisters does your spouse have? Name them.

- Where do the relatives of your brother and sister live?

- Who cooks for the family? Where is the stove in the kitchen, next to what?

If you are in a true and valid marriage, anything you do in front of the US CIS will be natural whether you are before the officer, agreeing, disagreeing or even confused about each other’s information (please speak up to correct any confusion, or write a clarification on paper if you are taking the test - as soon as you remember your mistake). Even though you may be nervous, be yourselves, and be very respectful to the officer. Try not to volunteer any information unless asked a direct question.

Once the interview is over, there will be several possible outcomes. You will either be (a) approved either the day of the interview, (b) approved days/weeks later after a further background check is completed, or (c) approved after you provide any documents that are additionally requested during the interview.  And yes, there is a chance of denial, for which you may seek post-denial remedies.

Lastly, you may find out that the fingerprints or another background check has not been completed or they wish to see yet another piece of evidence that is outside of normal interview procedures. Just find out who the officer is and ask them “(1) What do I still need to do? (2) What can we expect to happen now after this interview? (3) and When can we expect a result?”

Good luck and please feel free to call the lawyers at RWG to discuss any of this in a consultation by dialing 703-531-0790 or 415-765-0679


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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