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What to Expect at a Stokes Interview

Married couples undergoing a marriage-based green card interview must submit specific requirements and undergo an interview process. The goal is straightforward. The couple must prove to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that the marriage is legitimate or bona fide.

At times immigration officials may doubt the legitimacy of the marriage. This is often due to certain factors like the significant age difference or the length of the relationship. So, the immigration officer will conduct further questioning during the green card interview. An officer calls the process a 'Stokes interview' when they conduct more thorough questioning.

The Stokes interview usually only happens as a second interview process. It happens when a USCIS officer is not convinced about the legitimacy of the marriage after interviewing the couple for the first time. Then, the interviewer will give them a second chance. These days, some U.S. immigration offices do the Stokes interview right away.

The Stokes interview may sound daunting, but the process is easily understood with proper guidance. This article will walk you through what to expect during a Stokes immigration interview and how you can prepare for it.

How Stokes Interviews Came About

The federal district court decision of Stokes v. INS established the origins of the Stokes interview. Under this case, when an immigration officer questions the validity of a marriage in an I-130 petition, the applicant must be provided with a written notice describing the rights of the parties involved. They should also provide a separate attachment of the list of rights with the appointment letter and a list of the required original documents for the interview.

Generally, interviewees must bring the following documents to a Stokes interview:

  • Photo identification of the U.S. 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 the investigator may need more documents, depending on the case.

The Stokes Interview Process

Stokes's interview is sometimes referred to as a marriage fraud interview. During the interview, the immigration officer will question each couple separately and together. Because of this, the interview process can take several hours. Each person must answer the questions honestly and as openly as possible.

First, the immigration officer will bring the couple into their 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 might ask personal questions. Generally, the officer will ask the same questions to each spouse as a test if there is a fraudulent marriage. This process will be recorded to see if there are any red flags or discrepancies between the spouses' answers.

After completing both interviews, the immigration officer will bring the couple together and ask them to explain any discrepancies. The couple must convince the immigration officer that their relationship is bona fide. If the immigration officer believes the marriage is legitimate, they will approve the application. But, if there's a reason to believe the wedding was only entered into for a green card application or for one of the couple to get a lawful permanent residence, the application will be denied. The foreign spouse may also face potential deportation.

Note that although the usual process conducts the Stokes interview as a second chance, some USCIS offices conduct the interview immediately. When this happens, the couple goes through a separate interview right away.

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 regularly. 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 night?
  • Who went to sleep first previous night?

Get Legal Help to Prepare for Your Stokes Interview

The complexities of immigration law can be hard to understand. And the rules tend to change often. It is best to consult an immigration law attorney near you. They can provide you with updated legal advice based on the changes in immigration law.

Immigration lawyers can also help you gather the documents you must submit to the USCIS. They can also provide legal advice on preparing for the marriage-based green card interview. It is important to remember that proper preparation and documentation are crucial for the success of your green card application. If you have questions about immigration law, consult an immigration law office near you.

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