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Green Card Marriage Interview FAQ

Marriage to a U.S. citizen is one of the ways a foreigner can become a lawful permanent resident, a process that requires an adjustment of status. A U.S. citizen married to a foreign spouse can apply to have that spouse enter and stay in the U.S. on a green card. However, approval is not automatic. As part of a marriage-based green card application, the couple must convince the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that their marriage is bona fide.

This article provides comprehensive information about common marriage interview questions. Learning more about it will provide important insight into what could happen during the interview process.

What is a green card marriage interview?

A green card marriage interview is a part of the immigration process. This is a crucial part of obtaining a green card wherein the USCIS officer verifies the marriage's validity. The interview aims to check that the marriage is not a sham.

The green card marriage interview usually takes place at the USCIS office. The married couple is usually required to be present during the interview. The USCIS officer conducting the interview will ask questions about the couple's living arrangements, relationship, and shared responsibilities. They could also ask for proof of their shared life together.

The USCIS officer may also conduct a Stokes interview to assess whether it is a fraudulent marriage. Here, an immigration official would interview the couple separately. They would ask each of them to answer questions and compare them for inconsistencies. The interviewing officer can cover personal and intimate topics. This includes "Which side of the bed does each partner sleep?" or "Where did the spouse celebrate their last birthday?"

However, it is essential to remember that it is the USCIS's decision whether they will conduct the interview. The green card interview questions may be waived if the USCIS officer determines that it is unnecessary to establish the immigrant's eligibility for a green card.

How should I prepare for a marriage-based green card interview?

Ensure that you keep all necessary documents and evidence of your relationship. You and your spouse should bring all this evidence as supporting documents.

Supporting documents may include but are not limited to the following:

  • Letters
  • Photographs
  • Emails
  • Utility bills
  • Joint bank account statements
  • Tax returns
  • Marriage certificate
  • Proof of identification, which includes a driver's license, Employment Authorization Card, passport, birth certificate, and other immigration documents

The USCIS officer could ask questions about your submitted documents during the interview. Thus, it is essential to review the documents to ensure that your interview answers are consistent with your previous statements. If your situation has changed since the time you applied, be prepared to explain those changes.

Above all, you must be honest in all aspects of your application. For instance, an officer may ask about your first date, where or when it happened. If you cannot remember this detail, you can inform the immigration officer.

If your spouse is living in the U.S. and is in the process of acquiring a green card through marriage, they might encounter certain types of questions during the interview process. It is best to list details such as your spouse's birthday, phone number, or favorite food.

In addition, it is also important to arrive early and dress conservatively but comfortably. For additional green card interview tips, review FindLaw's Immigration Interview Do's and Don'ts article.

Can I apply for a green card after entering the U.S. with a B-2 Visa?

The U.S. immigration system puts a distinction between immigrant and nonimmigrant visas. An immigrant visa, or a lawful permanent residency(LPR), allows an individual to work and live permanently in the United States. A nonimmigrant or B-2 visa is only meant for vacation, tourism, and short-term visits to the country.

Generally, you cannot change your status from a nonimmigrant B-2 visa to a lawful permanent resident. Applying for LPR requires qualifying for employment or a family relationship, and even if you have such a qualifying relationship, there are strict rules as to when one qualifies to adjust status from within the United States.

When entering on a nonimmigrant visa such as the B-2, you cannot enter with the intention of staying and adjusting status. In other words, you cannot have "immigrant intent." This refers to the intent to remain in the U.S. at entry with a nonimmigrant visa. If this is the case, the immigration system might classify this as misrepresentation or "fraud."

What if my spouse is on a K-1 visa?

A K-1 visa, otherwise known as a fiancé visa, allows a foreign national to travel to the U.S. and marry their U.S. citizen sponsor within 90 days of entry into the country.

The foreign citizen can then apply for a status adjustment after the marriage. The adjustment of status would be his or her application for a green card or lawful permanent residency. This process is usually called the "one-step" adjustment of status.

According to the Immigration and Nationality Act, K-1 visa holders are considered inspected and admitted into the country. The status adjustment process usually begins with submitting an Application to Register Permanent Residence (Form I-485). The applicant should submit the necessary documents and pay the required fees. The applicant also has to attend a biometrics appointment.

If no marriage occurs within 90 days, the fiancé visa holder must leave the United States. If the K-1 visa holder fails to leave, they can face deportation. At worst, they can be barred from returning to the country in the future.

Can U.S. permanent residents obtain green cards for their foreign family members?

Yes, they can. It's important to remember that the processing time can sometimes be lengthy.

The immigration process can also be different based on the location of your family member. For instance, different rules apply to family members processing immigration visas through U.S. consulate offices overseas. If a spouse works in the U.S., different rules may also apply.

The immigration official may also ask the petitioner to provide an affidavit of support as a required document.

Need Help Preparing for a Green Card Marriage Interview? Talk to an Attorney

Getting a green card through marriage can be stressful and overwhelming. It is always recommended that you get expert advice from an immigration attorney. They can assist you in understanding immigration law and provide a detailed examination of your eligibility for a green card.

Although the process can be done alone, an immigration lawyer can assist you with filing the applications. With their experience in processing documents with the U.S. government, they can also give you the best possible chance for a successful application.

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