USA and the UK
Where does the interview take place and who must be there?
Attending an interview is the very last stage in the process for those applying for an IR1/CR1 Visa (Marriage-Based Green Card). If both spouses are living together in the United States, the interview will take place at a local USCIS field office that is closest to where you live and both spouses must attend. If the spouses are living abroad, the interview will take place at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where they currently reside and only the foreign spouse will need to attend.
Normally, most couples are interviewed together, but in some cases, they can be separated and interviewed individually. The location and interview date will be scheduled ahead of time by the USCIS (if living in the U.S.) or by the National Visa Center (NVC) if you or your spouse are living abroad.
In addition, any eligible children who are included on an IR2 or CR2 visa must attend the interview as well.
What should I bring to the marriage-based green card interview?
When you attend your scheduled interview, you will be asked to bring some required documents with you. These may include the following:
- A valid passport for more than six months after your planned entry to the U.S.
- Your scheduled appointment letter
- Marriage documents. Ideally, this will be a genuine marriage certificate, but wedding albums and proof of honeymoon destinations might be sufficient
- A signed Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support from the U.S. petitioner)
- Confirmation page of DS-260 application
- Medical examination and vaccination documents
- Two photographs per individual
- Court and criminal records and/or police certificate
- If you have served in the military, you must bring your military records
- Proof of U.S. spouse’s citizenship (passport, naturalization certificate, permanent resident card)
- Any documents supporting new evidence that will update the information provided in the original application. This can include such documents as a letter of employment if you changed jobs, medical records relating to pregnancy or a birth certificate if you had a child in that time.
- Any joint financial documents you have such as joint lease agreements, mortgage statements, utility bills, joint bank or credit card statements, club memberships, etc.
- Any documents other documents you received from the USCIS or consulate, such as visa or work permits
If any of your supporting documents are not in English, you may need to have them properly translated into English. As always, it is a good idea to bring the original versions of any documents that need to be submitted to the interview along with extra photocopies.
What to expect in your marriage-based green card interview
The interview is one of the final and some would argue the most important stage of your marriage-based green card application. The purpose of this interview is to assess whether or not you are in a bona fide marriage.
The interviewer will be a consular officer or another immigration officer who is in charge of the case. This officer will also be watching how you interact with each other before, during and after the interview to judge if you are a genuine couple so think of yourselves as being judged as soon as you enter the building.
Furthermore, the interviewer will be looking to see if you are indeed eligible for a marriage-based green card or if you fall into any category of inadmissibility. For example, if you have violated any immigration laws related to past visas, have ever been associated with any terrorist organization or have a lengthy criminal past, you could be ineligible for a green card.
Again, it is best to consult with an immigration attorney who can best ascertain if you are eligible for a marriage-based green card, how to apply and prepare for the process as well as give you any legal advice relevant to your case.
How will we be interviewed?
The visa interview will be conducted in a private room at a USCIS office and will usually last between 15-20 minutes. This could be a U.S. Embassy or consulate if you are abroad. You will be given the address ahead of time as well as a specific appointment time for your interview.
It should be noted that some couples are interviewed together while others are separated. This will depend on where you go for the interview and their preference for conducting the process.
After the initial meeting, you will then be sworn in to tell the truth. The officer will most likely start out by asking you questions about your petition to confirm that not only were your immigration forms submitted correctly and truthfully but that you are also knowledgeable of the basic facts submitted in this application. For example, you might be asked these sample visa interview questions:
- What is your spouse’s full name?
- What is your spouse’s birthday?
- Where was your spouse born?
- What is your current address?
- Any other information that you submitted in your application
What kinds of questions do they ask in a green card interview?
There are no standard set of questions for this type of visa interview. The specific green card interview questions will be up to the choice and discretion of the interviewer. Generally, the interviewer will ask you questions relating to these categories:
- How you met and how your relationship developed
- Information about your wedding
- Family and Friends
- Future Plans
- Questions about your household finances
- Information about your daily life
- Education and employment-related inquiries
- Immigration-related inquiries
- Holidays and celebrations
As a general rule, these types of visa interview questions are more personal. This is to make sure that the marriage is legitimate and not fraudulent. There will be a variety of questions asked to you and your spouse in order to get a better understanding of your relationship. Here are some examples of these green card interview questions:
How you met and how your relationship developed
- How did you meet your spouse and when did the relationship turn romantic?
- How long did you date before you became engaged to marry?
- What was the proposal like?
- Why did you decide to get married?
- How long were you engaged before you got married?
- Was your spouse married previously?
- Did you and your spouse speak the same language initially?
- If you were long-distance, how did you and your spouse communicate?
Information about your wedding
- When and where was the wedding and why did you decide on that place and time?
- Did your parents attend the wedding or any other family members?
- Did have any honeymoon plans after the wedding and if so where did you go?
- How many people attended the wedding?
- Did you have an engagement party?
Family and Friends
- Who are your spouse’s parents? Where do they reside?
- Does your spouse have any siblings?
- Have you met your spouse’s children? How many children does your spouse have?
- How often do you see each spouse’s family?
- Who are your spouse’s friends?
- Do you have any mutual friends?
- Do you have plans to have children together?
- Do you plan to work or attend school in the United States?
- Where do you plan to live in the U.S.?
Questions about household finances
- Who handles the majority of the finances?
- Do you have a joint bank account or separate accounts?
- Are both of your names on your lease or mortgage agreement?
- Who does the household shopping?
Information about your daily life
- Who gets up early? Who stays up late?
- What are your job schedules like?
- Who does the cooking? Who does the cleaning?
- How do you and your spouse spend your time together?
- What are your spouse’s favorite foods?
- What are your spouse’s hobbies?
Employment and education-related inquiries
- Where does your spouse work and how long have they been working there?
- What is your spouse’s salary?
- Where did your spouse go to school?
- What did they study in school?
- Have you ever been to the United States? If so, what visa did you arrive on?
- Do you have any family in the U.S.?
- Have you ever been refused a visa?
- Have you ever been arrested?
Holidays and celebrations
- Have you been on vacation together and if so, what was your last trip?
- What do you like to do on vacation?
- What holidays do you celebrate and how do you celebrate them?
- What is the most important holiday in your household?
- How do you typically celebrate birthdays?
- What is your spouse’s religious background?
It’s important to be as honest and frank in your green card interview. After all, the goal is to give the interviewer an idea about the kind of relationship you have with your spouse, not a chance for you to try and portray the perfect marriage. Don’t be afraid to talk about any difficulties you’ve had in your relationship. It is expected for any married couple to have their ‘ups and downs’.
If you find that a question is a bit too personal and borders on offensive (ex: questions about your sexual history), let the officer know and politely decline the question.
What are some other things that I can do to prepare for the green card interview?
The green card interview may seem daunting and a bit nerve-racking to you. To help you succeed in your interview it is important that you properly prepare yourself for what’s to come. Here are things to keep in mind before you and your spouse attend the visa interview.
It’s important to arrive early to your appointment in order to get settled in and organized. If you are late for your appointment, there’s a good chance that your appointment will be canceled.
Stay calm, don’t get too stressed out
Anxiety can sometimes get the best of us. However, looking too nervous and stressed out can raise suspicions with the officer in charge. Stay calm and remember that this is supposed to be a fun experience where you get a chance to talk about how you met and fell in love with your partner to someone who actually wants to hear that story.
Dress for the occasion
First impressions carry a lot of weight, so it is important to look smart. Dress business casual to show that you are taking this interview seriously.
Take a walk down memory lane
Sometimes details get hazy and your spouse may remember things differently or forget things entirely. For example, there might be one spouse who remembers the exact date of when you met while the other spouse vaguely remembers what season it was when you met let alone what they ate for dinner last night. It is important to get on the same page with your spouse and prepare yourself for a variety of green card interview questions.
Think carefully about the type of paperwork you submit
If you are going to provide any kind of supporting evidence to your green card application, it is important that those documents reflect evidence of a genuine relationship. These would include any kind of joint account financial statements such as bills, invoices, leases or mortgages that have both of your names on them.
You’ll have a lot of paperwork with you when you arrive for your interview. For this reason, it is a good idea to be organized and label things accordingly. This will make it easier for you to show and submit the required documents but also helps the officer in charge of your case who will then process your green card application.
What happens after the interview?
After your marriage green card interview, you should receive a decision over whether or not your application has been approved. If you did not receive a decision straight away, you most likely will receive one in 30 days from the USCIS.
Application is approved
If the visa application has been approved, the foreign-born spouse will receive a stamp in their passport which will act as a temporary green card while they wait for their permanent resident card to be sent to them in the U.S.
If you are abroad, the U.S. embassy or consulate will issue you a visa in your passport for entry into the U.S. You must travel to the U.S. before the expiration date of that visa which is usually 6 months after approval.
Furthermore, you will be given a sealed packet containing documents important to your green card. You must submit this packet unsealed at the immigration counter when you arrive at the port of entry into the U.S.
More information requested
Depending on your case, you may be sent a Request for Evidence (RFE) that asks for additional supporting documents like financial records, birth certificates, criminal records, etc. There will be a due date for submitting evidence so it is important that you submit the supporting documents right away or your marriage-based green card application may be denied.
You may be invited for a second interview by USCIS if more information is needed to verify your background and relationship with your spouse. This might happen if the interviewer has suspicions over whether or not your relationship is genuine.
In the second interview, also known as the Stokes interview (or marriage fraud interview), spouses will be separated and asked a series of green card interview questions. If the interviewer finds that your answers do not line up with one another, your petition will be denied.
For example, if you are asked when it was that you got married and one spouse gives a specific date in June while the other spouse says ‘sometime in winter’, then obviously the answers are very different from one another and indicate fraud.
Application is denied
The government can deny your green card application for a number of reasons such as mistakes on your submitted forms, financial or visa ineligibility, suspicion of fraud or any other reason. If your application is denied, you will receive a notification from USCIS stating the reasons why the visa was denied and if it is eligible for appeal. In some cases, you may file again.
As always, if your marriage-based green card has been denied and you wish to appeal the case, it is important to seek expert legal advice from an experienced immigration lawyer.
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