Preparing for Your Marriage Green Card Interview

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Every intending immigrant can count on being required to attend an interview, whether applying for a visa or green card based on marriage or something else.

Who Must Attend the Interview?

If applying for a green card at an office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the U.S., your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse will also be required to attend the interview, along with you. If applying for a fiancé or marriage visa from overseas, your U.S. fiancé or spouse is not required to attend  -- but doing so is an excellent idea.

After all, one of the main topics of discussion will be a form the U.S. spouse filled out—the Affidavit of Support—showing the spouse’s financial situation. If the U.S. spouse can confirm the contents of the affidavit in person, so much the better. And your spouse’s willingness to travel to be with you for this part of the immigration process is a pretty good way of showing that your marriage is not a sham.

A few applicants—or more likely their U.S. fiancés or spouses—may also be asked to attend a so-called fraud interview. This happens when USCIS or the consulate has suspicions that your marriage or intended marriage is not real. The fraud interview involves separating the two members of the couple and asking each of them a long list of identical questions, then comparing the answers.

What to Review Ahead of Time

In order to prepare for the oral part of the interview, one of your most important tasks is to look over your paperwork. Review the questions and answers on every form that you have submitted or that has been submitted for you, including the ones filled out by the U.S. citizen fiancé or spouse. Though the forms seem to contain only boring, dry bits of information, this information is loaded with meaning to a USCIS or consular official. The officer will be looking at things like the dates of your visits to different places, the U.S. spouse's financial figures, and your immigration history, for signs of inconsistencies or a false story.

Next, spend some time with your fiancé or spouse reviewing the facts and circumstances surrounding your relationship, such as where you met, how your relationship developed, how you have corresponded or visited and when, and why you decided to get married. There is no standard set of questions that you will be asked about this, so assume the officer will get creative about testing whether you are truly in a relationship and establishing a life together.

If applying for a fiancé visa, be prepared to explain your plans for the wedding and subsequent life together. If already married, recall what occurred at your wedding and how you settled into your marriage.

caution

CAUTION

Your memory may play tricks on you. Even if you and your fiancé or spouse think you know and remember everything about one another, you each may remember things differently. Couples have been known to disagree by as many as a hundred people when asked to state how many attended their wedding ceremony. And plenty of people can’t remember what they did for their husband or wife’s last birthday. The more you can remember about your shared history, the better prepared you will both be for the green card or visa interview. You can make a game of testing each other on household or personal facts: What type of flooring do you have in your house, how do you decide which holidays to spend at which in-laws' place, and who feeds the cat?

What to Bring

You will be asked to bring a variety of forms and documents to your interview. For immigrants coming from overseas, these will be mentioned in the mailing that you get containing your consular appointment notice, and include things like a medical exam report and a passport valid for travel to the United States. For immigrants in the United States, these will be listed in the adjustment of status appointment notice.

In any case, be sure to bring any documents showing changes to the information in your application, such as a name change, new job, or the birth certificate of a recently born child.

What to Wear

The interviewing officer’s decision rests almost entirely on whether he or she believes that you are credible, that is, telling the truth. You will come across as more believable if you are dressed neatly, professionally, and even conservatively. Avoid T-shirts or jewelry with slogans or symbols that might make the officer wonder about your lifestyle or morals.

by: , J.D.

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