Getting ready for the marriage-based green card interview that will decide whether a foreign-born spouse receives U.S. lawful permanent residence? This might take place at either a U.S. consulate abroad (in which case the U.S. spouse doesn't have to attend) or at an office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) if you're adjusting status in the United States (in which case both members of the couple must attend).
The below are sample questions to help you prepare for the most important and stressful part of the interview: convincing the officer that your marriage is bona fide, the real thing, not merely a fraud to get U.S. lawful permanent residence.
We've divided the sample questions into thematic groupings, below. These do NOT come from any official list created by U.S. immigration authorities. They are derived from the experiences of various lawyers and applicants over time.
(Also see 8 U.S.C. § 1325.)
Is There No Set List of Questions the Officer Will Ask of a Married Couple?
There is no master list of questions; at least none that's available to the public. Besides, USCIS and consular officers seem to like coming up with their own, unique questions to uncover marriage frauds. They are free to do so.
That means there's no guarantee that the U.S. official conducting the green card interview in your marriage-based case will ask you all or any of the questions provided in this article, though many are drawn from actual interviews. The below questions should, however, get you and your fiancé or spouse started on the process of testing each other's memory.
How Many Questions Will the Officer Ask About the Marriage?
If everything appears to be in order and the U.S. immigration officials are treating yours as a regular adjustment of status or immigrant visa interview, you can expect only a few questions. Basic ones about where you met, how many people attended your wedding, and what you did for your last birthday or holiday are common.
If the immigration authorities become suspicious, however, perhaps already believing that your marriage could be a fraud to get a green card, you can expect a greater number of questions to be asked of you and your U.S. petitioner.
In fact, they may separate the two of you and do what's called a "Stokes interview," in which they ask both of you the same question, then compare your answers later.
Development of Your Relationship
- Where did you two meet?
- What did the two of you have in common?
- Where did you go for dates?
- When did your relationship turn romantic?
- How long was it before you decided to get married?
- Who proposed to whom, and where?
- Who chose the ring?
- Why did you decide to have a [long, short] engagement?
- Did your parents or friends approve of the match? Why or why not?
- How many people attended your wedding?
- Did each of your parents attend?
- Where was the wedding held?
- Was there music or other entertainment?
- What kind of cake (or other food) did you serve?
- Who were the bridesmaids/groomsmen?
- How late did the guests stay?
- Did the bride change clothes for the reception?
- Did you serve liquor? What kind?
- Did anyone get drunk or otherwise embarrass themselves at the reception? Who? Describe.
- What time did you and the [bride or groom] leave the reception?
- Did you go on a honeymoon? When did you leave? How did you get there? What airlines?
Regular Routines of Your Life Together
- Who gets up first in the morning? At what time?
- How many alarm clocks do you set in the morning?
- Who makes breakfast?
- What do each of you eat for breakfast?
- Does your spouse drink coffee in the morning?
- Who is your spouse's current employer? Past employer? What is the location of your spouse's workplace? What is the name of your spouse's boss?
- How much does your spouse earn every month or year? How often is your spouse paid?
- What time does your spouse arrive home from work?
- Who cleans the house?
- What day is your garbage picked up?
- Who takes care of paying the bills?
- Do you have a joint bank account? Where?
- Do you have a cat, dog, or other pet? Who feeds it? Who walks it (or cleans its kitty litter box, cage, etc.)?
- Do you and/or your spouse attend regular religious services? Where?
- Where do you keep the spare toilet paper? Who scrubs the toilet?
- Does your spouse take any regular medications?
- What did you do...[this morning, yesterday, last weekend, etc.; they'll want an hour-by-hour rundown].
- Who picks up the children at school?
- Who packs lunches for the kids?
- What are their favorite toys/activities?
- What are their least favorite foods?
- Which children (if any) still use a car seat?
- What is your usual babysitter's name?
- How many times a week on average do you eat out?
- What is your favorite restaurant for special occasions? For weekly outings?
- Who does most of the cooking?
- Who does the grocery shopping? Where?
- Is there a particular food that you eat every week?
- What is your spouse's favorite/least favorite food?
- What color are the kitchen curtains?
- Do you have a barbecue grill? Do you use it?
- Is your stove gas or electric?
Other Family Members
- Have you met each other's parents?
- How often do you see each other's parents? Where do they live?
- When was the last time you saw them? Where? For how long?
- On important holidays, do you buy individual gifts for your parents-in-law? Do they buy individual gifts for you?
- How do each of you get along with your parents-in-law?
- How many brothers and sisters does your spouse have? What are their names?
- Which other members of your spouse's family do you see frequently? What are their names? When was the last time you saw them? What did you do together?
- How many land-line telephones are in your house? Where are they?
- What type of mobile phone does your spouse have? What's the phone number? [If you use speed dial, now is the time to check the number and memorize it!]
- How many televisions are in the house? In which rooms? Do you watch shows together, or separately? Name one show you always watch together.
- Do you subscribe to a DVD rental or streaming video service? Which?
- What company provides your cable service? Internet service?
- How many computers, laptops, or tablets are in the house? What kind are they?
- Does your spouse listen to the radio? What station?
- What kind of car does your spouse drive?
In the Bedroom
- What size is your bed (Twin, Queen, or King)?
- Do you have a regular mattress, futon, or waterbed?
- How many windows are there in your bedroom?
- What color are your spouse's pajamas?
- Who sleeps on each side of the bed?
- What form of contraception (birth control) do you use?
- When was your wife's last menstrual period?
- When did you last have intimate relations [that basically means sex, and they'll want a specific day or date]?
- Where do you keep your toothbrushes? What kind of toothpaste, soap, and shampoo does each of you use?
- Do either of you read or watch TV before going to sleep? Do you have lamps next to your bed?
- Have you ever had an argument that resulted in one of you sleeping in another room? Who, and which room?
The Rest of the House
- Do you live in a home or apartment? Who pays the mortgage or rent? How much is it?
- Do you have a garage? Who parks in it? Do you use a garage door opener?
- Is there a carpet in your front hallway? What color? Is your sofa a regular one or does it have a pull-out bed?
- Have you ever had houseguests sleep there?
- What type of curtains or window coverings are in your living room? What color?
- How many staircases are in your house?
- How many sinks, toilets, and showers are there in your house or apartment in total?
- Do you leave any lights on when you go to sleep at night?
- When is your spouse's birthday?
- What did you do for your spouse's last birthday?
- What did your spouse give you as a present for your last birthday?
- How did you celebrate your most recent wedding anniversary?
- What religious holidays do you celebrate together?
- What's the most important holiday of the year in your household? Where do you typically celebrate it?
- Have you and your spouse gone to see a movie or other form of entertainment lately? When, and what did you see?
- What did the two of you do last New Year's Eve? Fourth of July?
- Who takes pictures at important family occasions?
What If One of Us Answers Questions Wrong?
If you get a question or two wrong during the interview, don't panic (unless you really are trying to commit marriage fraud). It's not uncommon for real couples to forget things or even disagree. The officer will simply ask you more questions. Of course, if it's a major matter; such as disagreeing on how many children you have; that will raise suspicions.
The more you can practice, the better. If you were an immigration officer, what would you ask? Try to imagine possible questions, and ask them of each other as you prepare for your visa or green card interview.
A lawyer can also help you prepare for the interview and identify issues in your case that might cause the government officials to ask you extra questions. The lawyer can also accompany you to the interview, and make sure you are treated fairly. In the end, though, it's up to you to convince the U.S. government that your marriage is real.