Marriage-Based Green Card Interview
Marriage-based Green Card Interview: What to Expect
Usually, the final step in the process of applying for U.S. permanent residency is the interview, which is considered to be one of the most stressful parts of the whole process by most people. You can reduce the stress by knowing what to expect and assembling an organized file to bring to the interview.
The purpose of a marriage green card interview is to determine if your marriage is really authentic and not based on fraud. It is most likely that the USCIS officer will ask personal questions regarding your relationship, your background and education, your extended family, your hobbies and finances, to make sure that all the information previously provided is accurate. So, if you have gotten this far, our main tip is to stay calm and get everything organized.
Will the interview be separate or together?
Usually, the interview is done with the couple together. You will be placed together in a room and an officer will begin directing relatively simple questions for you both to answer as individuals or as a couple. However, if the consular officer begins to suspect any inconsistencies, they can ask to interview the couple separately.
How long is the marriage green card interview?
The marriage green card interview usually takes 15 to 20 minutes.
How do I prepare?
It is important to prepare for the interview in advance to make sure all the information is correct. During the week that precedes the interview, we recommend that you sit down with your partner and have a good talk about your relationship’s history, including key dates and events, such as the day you first met, the first declaration of love, how was your first date and how was your first holiday together; anything that can help the USCIS officer understand a little bit about how your relationship works.
What to do on the day of your marriage-based green card interview?
Both you and your partner should wear formal clothing to demonstrate a good first impression. It is essential that you arrive at least 40 minutes prior to the scheduled interview time. You should also prepare the original documents of all the copies you previously submitted to the government. Your appointment notice should include a list of items that you need to bring with you, such as:
- Appointment letter from NVC
- Original passport
- Copy of the forms you have submitted
- Marriage certificate
- Additional proof
Showing sufficient proof means that your marriage is “bona fide”, which indicates that you and your partner are genuinely in love with each other and both intend to build a future together. USCIS is extremely suspicious when they think the marriage could be fraudulent, so it is crucial to demonstrate copies of:
- Joint bank account statements.
- Joint ownership of real estate or lease agreements in both spouses’ names.
- Telephone, internet, and other utility bills.
- Credit card statements that include the name of the spouses.
- Evidence of correspondence, including handwritten letters, emails, social media messages.
- Evidence of trips the couple has taken together, including pictures, plane tickets, hotel receipts and passport stamps.
- Evidence of the wedding, including pictures, invitations, and religious certificate (if available).
- Photographs that show both spouses together, preferably with friends and family.
USCIS has some categories that rank evidence as strong, medium or weak. Here are some examples:
- Strong evidence: Joint bank account, life insurance, joint ownership of real estate or lease agreements, will, joint utilities, joint credit card.
- Medium evidence: Travel itineraries, plane tickets, social media messages, handwritten letters.
- Weak evidence: Affidavits from family and friends, photographs of the couple.
What questions do I need to answer at the green card interview?
Although you can never be certain about what type of questions the interviewing officer will ask, here are some of the most typical questions:
- When did you meet?
- Where was your first date?
- How long did you date before deciding to get married?
- What did the two of you have in common
- Do you have any siblings?
- Where did you live?
- Have you ever been arrested?
- How was your childhood?
- Where did you go to school?
- Do you have a college degree?
- What was your major?
- What did your spouse major in?
- Have you met your spouse’s family?
- Has your spouse ever been married before?
- What are your mother-in-law and father-in-law’s names?
- When was the last time you saw your spouse’s parents?
- What do you guys like to do together?
- Do you plan any sports together?
- What’s your spouse’s favorite hobby?
- What’s your spouse’s favorite football team?
Day-to-day life questions:
- Do either you or your spouse cook? How often?
- What television shows do you and your spouse watch?
- What does your spouse usually eat for breakfast?
- Do you and your spouse attend religious services?
- Which one of you pays for the bills?
- How much does your spouse earn each year?
- Do you have a joint bank account?
- Do you and your spouse own a home together?
This is a small example of green card interview questions, since the consular officer will determine the questions based on the particular case’s circumstances.
Do we have to memorize facts?
There is no need to memorize facts. This can possibly make you as a couple sound rehearsed and inauthentic, and is not going to be beneficial to you. Immigration officials understand that no one remembers every little detail about their marriage, so it is ok not to know the answer to some questions. It is better to be honest and say that you don’t know rather than blatantly lie.
What happens after the interview?
Typically, the USCIS officer will let you know whether you have been approved or not as soon as the interview finishes. Before approving or denying, they can request additional evidence, and you will have a deadline to respond to them with the requested information. If it is an approval, a notification should arrive in your mailbox, including information about the rights and duties that you now have. If your petition has been denied, you will receive further instructions on how you can appeal, if possible.
How to avoid failing in the marriage green card interview?
The main reason why married couples fail on the adjustment of status is when they have handled their cases on their own, without the assistance of a licensed attorney. Before you fail, in most cases, USCIS will send you a Request For Evidence. Then, if you fail to respond or if your response is inadequate, the government will serve you with a decision outlining all the reasons why it was considered defective.
What happens if you fail the marriage green card interview?
The first step in challenging a marriage green card decision is to figure out why your case was denied. Once the basis for the USCIS denial is known, options to appeal the outcome can be identified. The most common pitfalls include: living in the U.S. without lawful status, non legal marriage, insufficient supporting evidence, criminal convictions, inability to meet financial requirements, incomplete application details, poor interview preparation.
What to do if your Marriage Green Card Application Is Denied?
When an adjustment of status to permanent resident status application is denied, U.S. citizens and their immigrant significant others have two options:
- file a new I-485 marriage green card application; or
- challenge the decision with a motion to reopen (in case you wish to reevaluate the decision based on the discovery of new evidence or changed circumstances) or a motion to reconsider (in case you want to reexamine the decision based on the improper disregard or misinterpretation of applicable law)
What to do if your motion to reopen or reconsider is denied?
If your motion to reopen or reconsider is denied, you will likely be served with a Notice To Appear at Immigration Court to begin removal proceedings. Depending on your circumstances, you might be able to renew your permanent residence application.
The couple will be asked to testify and will be cross-examined by a government attorney. At this point, you can present witnesses who can give supporting testimony about your marriage. The judge will look at your case in greater depth than a USCIS officer, but keep in mind that winning a marriage-based green card at immigration court is a lot more difficult than at an adjustment of status interview.
If you need assistance with your case, please feel free to contact us. Our office will make sure that you receive the best and most personalized consultation available from anywhere else in the world.
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