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What to Expect at a Stokes Interview

Couples who use marriage as the basis to obtain a green card must convince the U.S. immigration authorities that their marriage is real, or "bona fide." If the immigration officer suspects that the marriage was entered into solely for the purpose of obtaining a green card, a second interview will be scheduled to provide the couple with another chance to prove that their marriage is not a sham. This second interview is known as a marriage fraud interview, or "Stokes interview."

How Stokes Interviews Came About

The origins of the Stokes interview can be found in the federal district court decision of Stokes v. INS. Under this case, when an immigration officer questions the validity of a marriage in an I-130 spouse petition, the applicant must be provided with a written notice describing the rights of the parties involved, a separate attachment of the list of rights with the appointment letter, and a list of what documents to submit at the time of the interview.

Generally, the following documents must be brought to a Stokes interview:

  • Photo identification of the citizen spouse

  • Proof of the petitioner's citizenship

  • Immigrant spouse's passport

  • Marriage certificate

  • Employment letters and the last two pay stubs

  • Bank account information

  • Rent receipts

  • Tax returns

  • Insurance policies

  • Utility bills

  • Photo albums

It's important to note that additional documents may be required depending on the case.

The Stokes Interview Process

During a Stokes interview the immigration officer will question each member of the couple separately as well as together. Because of this, the interview process can take several hours. It's important that each person answers the questions honestly and as openly as possible.

To start off, the immigration officer will bring the couple into his or her office to discuss why the first interview didn't go well. The immigration officer will then go over the Stokes interview procedure, eventually separating the spouses from one another.

During the separate interviews, the immigration officer will ask very personal and invasive questions. Generally, the officer will ask the same questions to each spouse. This process will be recorded to see if there are any discrepancies between the spouses' answers.

After both interviews are completed, the immigration officer will then bring the couple in together and ask them to explain any discrepancies. The couple must convince the immigration officer that their relationship is genuine. If the immigration officer is convinced that the marriage is legitimate, then couple's case will be approved. However, if the immigration officer has reason to believe the marriage was only entered into in order to obtain a green card, he or she will deny the case.

Typical Stokes Interview Questions

An immigration officer may ask a variety of questions during a Stokes interview. While there's no universal set of questions that every immigration officer must use, there are typical questions that tend to show up on a regular basis. Some common questions that are often asked in Stokes interviews are:

  • How did you meet?
  • Where did you go on your first date?
  • How many bedrooms do you have in your home?
  • Who cleans the house?
  • On what days is the garbage picked up?
  • Who pays the bills?
  • Do you pay bills online or write checks?
  • How many windows do you have in your home?
  • What type of curtains or window coverings are in your living room?
  • Who gets up first?
  • Who sets the alarm clock to get up in the morning?
  • What do you eat for breakfast?
  • Do you have any pets?
  • How many showers, sinks, and toilets are there in your home?
  • What kind of sofa do you have in your living room?
  • Where did you get your furniture?
  • How many televisions do you have in your home?
  • How many cars do you have?
  • How many telephones are in your house?
  • Do you have family cell phone plans?
  • Do you record any television shows?
  • How many computers/laptops do you have?
  • Who is your cable/internet/phone provider?
  • What television shows do you watch?
  • What music do you listen to?
  • What kind of appliances do you have in your kitchen?
  • Who makes breakfast?
  • What does your spouse drink in the morning?
  • What is your spouse's favorite/least favorite food?
  • How often do you eat out?
  • Where do you go out to eat?
  • What kind of mattress do you have?
  • Which side of the bed do you sleep on?
  • Do you read or watch television before you go to sleep?
  • What kind of birth control do you use?
  • Where do you keep your toothbrushes?
  • What kind of toothpaste, shampoo, and soap do you use?
  • Who does the laundry?
  • What time did you go to sleep last nightt?
  • Who went to sleep first last night?

Related Resources

Get Legal Help to Prepare for Your Stokes Interview

Immigration is one of the most complicated areas of law in the United States, especially since it also tends to change quite often. For this reason, it's important to consult with an experienced immigration attorney if you have questions about the Stokes interview or need help with the immigration process in general.

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Next Steps

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