One of the most common ways to acquire a Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) is by marriage. Although, many applicants have encountered issues with the process of acquiring a marriage based Green Card. One of the most common issues is the interview which is the final hurdle before the Green Card is issued. Many do not know what to expect during the interview process which typically occurs within 6 months of filing the application. This often leads to heading into the interview unprepared to properly answer the questions asked by the officer. Many applicants also do not understand that the purpose of the interview is to give the government the opportunity to test the validity of the marriage and their supporting documents. It is therefore of paramount importance that the applicant knows what to expect heading into the interview and be prepared.
Preparing For the Interview
Once a date for the interview has been set by USCIS, applicants are typically given a few weeks to prepare. I advise my clients to prepare for the interview as though they were preparing to give in court testimony. Review all immigration forms and documents that have been or will be provided to USCIS and know the contents of each document. Talk to your spouse and go over details of how you met, where you got engaged and other relevant details of your relationship. Be aware that the interviewer will test for inconsistencies in documentation and to see if the marriage is a sham for the purpose of getting the Green Card. Be prepared to answer any and all questions about both of these.
In addition, the interview may be done of the applicant alone, or may include the applicant’s spouse. Therefore, it is important for your spouse to be prepared to answer all of these questions as well. Finally, similar to appearing in court, appearance is taken into account so dress professionally.
Documentation Required At Interview
Once you arrive at the immigration office you will be required to show identification and provide your appointment information. Once your name and number are called you will be sworn and the interview will begin. The following documentation will be required:
In addition to the original documentation above the officer will likely ask for additional documentation that supports the legitimacy of the marriage. Be aware of the content of these documents before turning them over to the officer because you will be questioned about them in detail. These documents show you are residing with your spouse, commingling finances and otherwise have a genuine relationship. Documents include the following:
Types of Questions Asked
The officer can ask any relevant questions they want. The interviewer’s job is to test the validity of the marriage and to check for inconsistencies or red flags in supporting documentation. Although not an exhaustive list, below are some standard questions that are typically asked during an interview:
While on the surface these questions may seem straight forward, they are calculated to test the legitimacy of the marriage. Therefore, when preparing for the interview it is better to be over prepared than under prepared. If all goes well the officer will approve the application and stamp the applicants passport with a 30 day stamp allowing them to work in the US and travel outside the US. The Green Card will arrive 4 weeks later.
Ryan A. Hintzen
The Hintzen Law Firm, PLLC