Watch This BEFORE Your Marriage Green Card Interview!

Watch on YouTube

Video Description

Watch This BEFORE Your Marriage Green Card Interview!

Are you someone who has filed for a marriage-based green card and you are anxiously expecting and waiting for your chance to be interviewed by an immigration officer, whom you cannot wait to have pick apart your life and your marriage to see if it's real?

Well, I have been to hundreds of green card immigration interviews across the United States, and there is almost nothing that I have not seen. And this experience is what I want to share with you so that you can understand your process better and be well prepared for when you have your interview in front of an immigration officer.

So I am going to share with you what you can expect at this interview, how long you may have to wait, what are the types of questions that you may be asked, and how to prepare for your interview the best way possible so that you can get your green card approved.

How Long Until Your Interview?

So how long will it take for USCIS to actually schedule you for your interview? You might be surprised to know that this answer is not going to be the same for every single person.

In fact, how long you end up waiting for your immigration interview is going to depend on a variety of factors. Number one, whether you are the spouse of a US citizen or the spouse of a green card holder can make a huge difference in how long you may have to wait for your I-485 green card interview.

This is because when you are the spouse of a US citizen, you are considered to be an immediate relative and there is no need to wait to file your I-485. As soon as you file your I-130, you can file your I-485 at the very same time or immediately soon thereafter. However, if you are the spouse of a green card holder, then your wait time is going to be impacted by two things.

Number one, USCIS is always going to prioritize interviews for spouses of US citizens over spouses of green card holders. Number two, your wait time can also be impacted by the visa bulletin itself. Essentially, the visa bulletin is a quota system of a certain number of visas that the US government will give out every single year to various categories of relatives. They then have to divvy up how many visas can be granted by relative type and also by country as well.

So if you are from a certain country and you are a spouse of a green card holder, your category may or may not be current. Until it is current, you cannot file your I-485. So the number one factor that will always affect how long you have to wait is going to be whether you are the spouse of a green card holder or whether you are the spouse of a US citizen.

Next, you may be surprised to know that your wait time is going to vary depending on where you live in the United States. And this is because there are a few dozen immigration offices throughout the United States that will serve different geographic areas. And not every geographic area is the same in terms of population and in terms of immigration needs.

Think of it this way, if you are in the New York City field office, we are going to have maybe 10 times more applications and applicants to process than somebody in Boise, Idaho, because there are not as many applicants in that area. And maybe there are not as many immigrants filing applications in that area as New York City.

Therefore, if you are living in a high density area and a high immigrant need areas such as New York or Dallas or Los Angeles, your application may end up taking twice as long to process as somebody in a more quiet, more rural, less needy area in other parts of the country. This is why sometimes we have seen green card applications take a year and a half to two years in some locations. Whereas in other areas, we make it an interview and a decision within six months.

I know it may be frustrating when you're trying to get an answer. So there is a handy dandy tool on the USCIS website that you can utilize to understand what your processing time might be according to jurisdiction.

How Should You Prepare?

So how should you prepare before you go on your interview? There is no one particular good way to prepare for your interview. However, there are several best practices that I want you to keep in mind before you go for your interview.

Number one, prepare for your interview. Even though you and your spouse may have been together for a very long time, or maybe you're so new and you're so in love, you may think that you do not need to prove anything to the immigration officer. However, this is a mistake and you will always have the burden of proving that your relationship is real.

Therefore, it is your obligation and your duty to prove that your marriage is real and the immigration officer has every right to ask you questions. And some of the most important questions the immigration officer will ask have to do with the timeline of your relationship history. Therefore, one of the best ways to prepare for your interview is for you and your spouse to sit down and literally write and draw out a timeline beginning with when and where were the very first times that you laid eyes upon each other. And then when was your first date? And this is where a lot of people may run into trouble because your version of what your first date was may actually not be the same as your spouse.

Therefore, it's even more important to make sure that you and your spouse get on the same page prior to your interview and prepare your responses to make sure that you both remember the very same thing. This may also be a sticky point for those of us who may be in marriages that evolved out of friendships. So there may be even more gray area and therefore you need to sit down with your spouse to go over these particular details.

And next, you'll also want to put on your timeline important dates as best as you can remember, including: When did you first started talking about marriage? When did you meet each other's families? When did you get married? Where was your honeymoon? These sorts of details are important questions that the immigration officer is going to ask. So the best way that you can be prepared is to do a timeline and get on the same page as your spouse before you sit in front of the officer.

Next, collect, collect, collect. You must do your best to collect as much joint evidence as possible, beginning from the start of your relationship up until the very day that you are sitting in front of the officer for your interview. I always recommend to clients to bring as much joint financial information, including joint bank statements, joint tax returns, joint utility bills, any joint insurances and proof purchases. These are things that are going to be considered the gold standard of evidence in an immigration case.

Then bring in secondary evidence such as photo albums, greeting cards, wedding receipts, things like that. These are also important, but not nearly as important as the other types of evidence. Not only will you want to collect everything and make sure you have important information from every single month since you got married, but next you'll want to organize all of your documents.

Now for immigration interviews, I like to put all of the biographic documents—including any divorce certificates, marriage certificates, criminal history, all of these things—I like to put all of these first and then put all the joint evidence organized by category at the end. You may also be wondering what you should wear.

Well, this is an official proceeding, so I would recommend that you dress in business casual to show that you are taking this interview seriously. However, there's no need for you to get in a suit and tie. I think a simple button down shirt, if you're a gentleman is fine and something business casual if you are a lady is fine as well. And lastly, you want to arrive early, but not too early.

And this is because since COVID-19 has started, security guards may not even let you into the building if you are more than 30 minutes ahead of the time of your appointment. So if you have the habit of showing up two hours early, you may be waiting around for a long time outside. Generally speaking, 45 minutes to an hour prior to your appointment time is a good place to land. That way you have enough time for parking, getting adjusted and making your way through security.

Now, what will actually happen on the day of the interview?

What Happens At The Interview?

What can you expect and what is the order of events? First of all, the most important thing that will happen is that you will be placed under oath. Immigration officer will ask you to stand, raise your right hand and swear to tell the truth. After you have been sworn in, then the interview can officially begin.

The officer will ask you for your original documents and they will look through it and compare it against the copies that they have in their file. And then they may ask for updated documents. At this point, the immigration officer may start asking you interview questions. And while they're asking questions, they may ask you for the supporting documentation that you have brought with you to prove your marriage.

Generally speaking, the majority of Green Card interviews are done with both spouses sitting together in the same room. However, you may be shocked to find out that when you appear for your interview, you and your spouse are actually going to be interviewed separately. In some locations, this may happen and this is called a Stokes interview. Generally, an immigration officer gives a Stokes interview when they suspect fraud in your marriage.

But as long as you're prepared, you do not have anything to worry about. And just as a caveat, so you don't freak out too much, the Stokes interview is something that is usually given as a second interview during the process if your first interview did not go so well. During my hundreds of interviews that I have done in front of an immigration officer, I have only once ever had to do a Stokes interview as the primary and first interview. And believe me, it was a shock to me as much as it was to the client, but they passed.

And generally in the end, the officer may tell you that they're going to approve you or whether they still need additional evidence. However, it is very normal for you to get a piece of paper at the end of your interview telling you that your case is being held for review and that immigration will need 120 days to make a decision. Don't be alarmed when you see this, because in my experience, even though everyone gets this letter, generally most people will get a decision within one month average.

Now generally, these interviews are conducted by trade officers and their main job is to assess whether your marriage was entered into for the purposes of an immigration benefit or whether it is a bona fide marriage made in good faith. Therefore, they will be asking lots of questions to understand how you guys met, how the relationship evolved and what you know about each other. Some things that may make an officer suspicious about considering your marriage to have been made in good faith is if you don't live together with your spouse or if there are certain age disparities or financial disparities between the two of you.

Next, I'm going to share some of the questions that you can expect at your marriage based green card interview. But before I go any further, my name is Moumita Rahman and I have been an immigration attorney for the past 14 years.

I am based in New York, but I work with clients all over the United States. If you would like my help on your case, please call us at 212-248-7907.

What Will You Be Asked?

Next, what will you be asked at your interview and how should you respond? Now, I generally like to give my clients some rules of thumb when answering questions. Number one, your body language and demeanor is very important.

You want to be sitting up straight and making good eye contact with the officer when they are talking to you and when you respond, because sometimes if your eyes are darting around and you are not looking in the officer's eye, this can be interpreted as a badge of fraud. And they may ask you even more questions because they suspect you of trying to hide the truth.

Next, I cannot overemphasize how important this is, you must make sure to listen to the officer's questions and make sure that your response is a direct response to the question that is asked. Many times people make the mistake of trying to anticipate a question and give an answer to something that has not been asked or try to over explain something that the officer is not even asking an explanation for. Think of it this way, if you were asked a yes or no question, your response should only be a yes or no, not a yes, but further explanation.

Another rule of thumb to keep in mind is to always tell the truth and don't make up a response if you don't know the answer. If you don't know the answer, it is perfectly fine to say that you are not sure or that you do not know. Now, you don't want to be answering this way for every single question, so don't get too nervous and say that you're not sure for everything because that will not look good either. Now that you know my rules of thumbs, here are some questions that you may be asked.

I have already gone over the relationship timeline questions, and those are definitely questions that you may be asked in addition to questions like the names of your in-laws, whether your spouse has any siblings, what their names are, where they live, and whether they're married and have kids.

You may also be asked about your spouse's employment and educational backgrounds, including questions about where they went to school, what their highest degree of education is, and so on and so forth. They might even ask fun questions like who wakes up first or who cooks at home and what is your favorite meal that they cook?

You may even be asked what are the three things that you don't like about your spouse or the three things that you love about your spouse. Some strange questions, but I have seen them be asked before. And lastly, you as the immigrant applicant will be asked security and inadmissibility questions. Some officers like to ask these first.

Some officers like to ask these last, but these are generally those 81 questions that are on your I-485 application. They can range from serious and crazy sounding questions like have you ever affiliated with the Nazi party to more common questions like have you ever been charged or cited for any criminal offense?

Take these questions seriously and don't be offended by it. And if you're working with an attorney who's anticipating problems with any of these questions, they should be prepared to help you understand how to respond. Now, how long does the immigration interview generally take?

How Long Does The Interview Take?

In my experience, it can take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour and a half. On average, I would say most immigration interviews based upon a marriage will take an average of 45 minutes. But this includes the entire time from start to finish, including the time the officer needs to take to go through your documents and match them to what is in the file and to look at new evidence or ask additional questions for situations that may come up.

In my experience, the more experienced of an officer it is, the shorter of an interview and the newer of an officer with less experience, they tend to ask more questions. Also, if they do suspect you are fraud, then you will also be asked even more questions to dig around. And every interview that I have been to is different because every officer's interview style is different. Some are nice, some are not so friendly, and some can even be hostile.

If you have any complicated factors in your case, such as prior fraud or criminal issues, then you can also expect this to cause your interview to take longer. When finished with your interview, the officer will hand you that piece of paper that says that your case is being held for a review. But sometimes an officer may tell you that they're going to approve your case.

Either way, I would say that generally speaking, after your interview is done, you can expect a decision to be given to you in the mail within 30 to 60 days after your interview. Sometimes at the interview, the officer may give you something called a request for evidence because they require additional information. And sometimes this request for evidence is given at the end of the interview, but other times you may have to wait to get this in the mail.

If you have to wait to get this in the mail, then I can guarantee you it will take several months to get and it will take longer to finish processing your case. If you do receive a denial in your case, then there are usually options to appeal the decision and that will be listed in your denial letter. An appeal will have a deadline of 33 days. So if you have not been approved, you want to take swift action immediately to find a lawyer who can help you argue your case.

And if you want to hear more about the questions that I have been asked at Green Card Interviews, be sure to watch my other video where I go over step-by-step the questions that you may be asked and how to prepare. In this deep dive of a marriage interview, I give you even more examples of questions that you may be asked and what I have heard attending these interviews. I'll give you my tips for the best response possible.

I'll include a link to that video here.

Click to watch it now and I'll see you there.

Follow Us Online!

Click each of the buttons below to follow us on our social media accounts!
Instagram icon
Instagram icon
Instagram icon
Instagram icon
Instagram icon
Instagram icon
Instagram icon
Instagram icon
Instagram icon
Instagram icon

Our Latest Videos