Overview – what is the marriage-based green card interview?
The family-based green card marriage interview is a standard part of the green card process that all applicants for lawful permanent residence must undergo. As the spouse of a US citizen, you will have to attend an interview with a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Officer. Your US citizen spouse will have to attend the green card marriage interview with you.
This is usually the last part of the marriage green card application process. You and your spouse will likely be asked personal questions regarding your relationship, your marriage, and your day-to-day life. While this may be a stressful and intimidating process, some of the stress can be alleviated by getting acquainted with the green card marriage interview process, with the green card marriage interview requirements, and even with the frequently asked questions at a green card marriage interview. Knowing what to expect will help you be more confident at your marriage-based green card interview. This article will provide the answers to all of your potential green card marriage interview questions.
a. Why is the marriage-based green card interview necessary?
The purpose of the green card marriage interview is to confirm that your marriage is genuine and valid. USCIS officers will want to make sure that you and your spouse have entered into marital union in order to spend your lives together, and not to evade the immigration laws of the United States.
The interviewer will try to identify whether your marriage is a sham, or a fraudulent arrangement solely entered into for immigration purposes. You have no reason to worry if your marriage is genuine. Your marriage-based green card interview is an opportunity for you and your spouse to demonstrate to the USCIS Officer that your marriage is real, and that you did not enter into it in order to obtain a green card.
b. The marriage-based green card interview process for couples that live within the US
If you are both located in the United States, USCIS will review your green card application, which will then be transferred to a USCIS Field Office near you. You and your spouse will both be required to attend your marriage-based green card interview, and you will be mailed a notice, containing the date, time, and location of your marriage green card interview.
c. The marriage-based green card interview process for couples that live abroad
If you are applying from outside of the United States, you will have to attend your marriage-based green card interview at a US consulate or embassy near you. If that is the case, your US citizen spouse does not have to attend the marriage-based green card interview with you. The US State Department will review your application, and will transfer your case to the National Visa Center (NVC). You will then receive a notice of the date, time, and location of your green card marriage interview.
If the consular officer has any doubts about the validity of the marriage, your US spouse might be asked to attend a separate green card marriage interview in the United States.
Before the green card marriage interview
You will receive your green card marriage interview notice well in advance of the actual interview appointment, which will give you plenty of time to get acquainted with the answers to your green card marriage interview questions, as well as with what to expect at your green card marriage interview.
a. How to prepare for the green card marriage interview
Prepare and organize all of the documents you will have to bring with you to your green card marriage interview appointment. This includes originals of documents you have already submitted, copies of your application package, as well as any new documents you might want to submit to USCIS. Make sure you have all of the documents together and organized in a way that makes sense and makes them easily accessible at the time of the interview. Below is included a comprehensive list of the documents you might need to bring to your marriage-based green card interview.
Be sure to review all of the information in the forms and supporting documents that you submitted. When answering green card marriage interview questions, you will have to be consistent with the information you have already provided to USCIS, so be acquainted with your responses. If you are providing any new information or documentation at your green card marriage interview, make sure that it matches up with the information you have already submitted to USCIS. Any inconsistencies may be seen as a red flag.
Refresh your memory. Sit down together with your spouse and try to construct a timeline of your relationship. This is especially important if you have been together for a longer period of time, or if you have been married for several years. Try to remember key dates and events in your relationship and marriage. Make sure that you are both on the same page about certain elements of your relationship. Some people remember things differently, or perceive the same situation in different ways. You will want to provide the USCIS officer with matching responses, so jog your memory and communicate with each other the answers to some of the marriage green card interview questions you may be asked. In this comprehensive guide you will find some of the frequently asked marriage-based green card interview questions that will help you to prepare for your I-485 interview.
Practice. This is particularly important if you or your spouse are forgetful. Iron out inconsistencies in your statements, and try not to let a simple mistake derail your marriage-based green card interview. The more you practice, the more confident you will be at your actual green card marriage interview, and the better prepared you will be to tackle the officer’s questions. In the case of your green card marriage interview, it is better to be overprepared, and to be comfortable and familiar with the green card marriage interview questions you will be asked.
b. What documents should I bring to my green card marriage interview?
Your USCIS appointment notice will include a list of items that you need to bring with you to your green card marriage interview. While you should always follow the instructions on your notice, below is a list of items that you will likely have to bring with you to your green card marriage interview. These items will typically include most of the following:
- Your government-issued photo ID: Bring your passport, even if it has expired, or a driver’s license. Any government-issued form of identification, which has your photo on it will suffice.
- The appointment notice (I-797C Notice of Action) that was mailed to you by USCIS.
- A copy of the complete application packet you have submitted: for a marriage-based green card interview, this will typically include Forms I-130, I-130A, I-131, I-485, I-765, and I-864, as well as all the supporting documents enclosed with these forms.
- Originals of supporting documents you may have submitted with your I-485 application – birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates or divorce decrees.
- Your passport, even if you are bringing another form of government-issued photo ID.
- Your immigration history – previous visas, old passports, your most recent Form I-94.
- If you were issued an advance parole permit while awaiting your green card marriage interview appointment, you should bring it with you as well.
- If you did not submit Form I-693 Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record with your original filing, you should bring it to your green card marriage interview, as well as your doctor’s report.
- Additional proof of the bona fides of your marriage: bills, joint accounts, proof of ownership of property; any new evidence you might have accumulated while waiting for your green card marriage interview appointment that will further improve your chances of approval.
- Proof of any changes in your life that might affect your adjustment of status – the birth of a child, a change of address, an arrest, or any other legal issues and complications.
At the interview
a. Where will the green card marriage interview take place?
Your green card marriage interview will take place at a USCIS Field Office near you. Still, there is a limited number of Field Offices, so your marriage-based green card interview might involve a several-hour drive, or even an overnight stay. You will receive your notices several weeks in advance, so you will have sufficient time to make arrangements, if necessary.
The Field Office is a federal building, so you will have to undergo a routine security check, like at an airport. Plan accordingly to not bring any items with you that will not pass a security check.
b. What to expect at a green card marriage interview
Keep in mind that while the official part of the green card marriage interview will take part in an interview room, your demeanor both as individuals and as a couple will be under scrutiny from the moment you enter the USCIS building.
Bring your marriage-based green card interview notice with you – you will present it to the security guard so you can enter the USCIS Field Office. At the interview waiting room, you will present your notice to the duty officer, and you will wait for your name to be called. They will use the foreign national spouse’s name. While the green card marriage-based interview itself does not take long, you might have to wait some time before you are called in for your actual interview.
You and your spouse will be placed in an interview room with your interviewing officer. Your attorney may be present with you, if you choose. If you are not fluent in English, an interpreter may be present. Your interpreter will have to take an interpreter’s oath, and is required to strictly translate the questions, without providing opinions, answers, or commentary of their own.
The interviewing officer will introduce himself or herself. Make sure to remember their name in case you need to follow up on your green card marriage interview. You will be asked to stand up, raise your right hand, and swear an oath before the start of your marriage-based green card interview.
The officer will then verify your and your spouse’s identity using the original copies of your birth certificates, your passports, and your marriage certificate. The green card marriage interview will last about 15-25 minutes, and your interviewing officer will ask you a series of questions pertaining your adjustment of status application, your relationship, and your immigration history. You will likely have to verify or clarify some of the answers you gave in the forms you filed.
Answer the questions honestly, directly, and briefly. If you are not certain about the answer to a certain question, or if you do not know how to respond, don’t hesitate to say so. It is better to say you can’t recall the answer than to make one up on the spot. If you feel that a question is too personal or inappropriate, do not hesitate to speak up.
c. The Officer
If you are applying for adjustment of status within the United States, you will be interviewed by a USCIS officer. If you are applying at a US Consulate abroad, your green card marriage interview will be conducted by a consular officer. Both are specifically trained to conduct marriage-based green card interviews.
They have two specific objectives: one, to assess the authenticity of your marriage and to make sure it is a genuine marital union and not a sham committed for the purpose of getting a green card; and two, to assess your eligibility for a green card.
d. Frequently asked marriage-based green card interview questions
Below you can find several different categories and sample questions that you and your spouse might be asked at your marriage-based green card interview. There is no predetermined list of questions that USCIS officers use. You may be asked some of the green card marriage questions below, or you may be asked completely different ones. This list is simply to prepare you for the nature of the questions you will potentially have to answer.
- What is your spouse’s date of birth?
- What is your spouse’s full name?
- Does your spouse have any birthmarks/tattoos/scars/etc.?
- What form of birth control do you use?
- What is your spouse’s religion?
- How did your spouse come to the United States?
- What is your spouse’s phone number?
- Does your spouse smoke?
- What color are your spouse’s eyes?
- Do you have any nicknames for your spouse? What are they?
- Does your spouse take any regular medication?
- Did you get married to get into the U.S.? Did you pay your spouse to get married?
- Are you concerned that your spouse married for a green card?
- What are your concerns about being married to someone from another culture?
- Does your spouse drink?
Family and friends
- Does your spouse have any siblings? What are their names?
- What are your mother- and father-in-law’s full names?
- When did you last see your mother- and father-in-law?
- How often do you see each other’s parents?
- How do you get along with your spouse’s parents?
- What other members of your spouse’s family do you see frequently?
- Do you buy individual gifts for your parents-in-law on important holidays?
- How do you typically celebrate holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas?
- Who picks the kids up from school?
- What is your [usual] babysitter’s name?
- What are your children’s favorite toys?
- What are your children’s least favorite foods?
- Does your spouse have any nieces or nephews? What are their names?
- Do you have any mutual friends?
- Who is your spouse’s best friend?
- Do you know any of your spouse’s friends? What are their names? How long have they known each other?
- Does your spouse have any children from previous marriages? Does he/she have custody of them?
- Does your spouse pay child support?
- How often do you see his/her children?
- How many times has your spouse been married? How did the marriage end?
- How did you first meet?
- When and where did you meet?
- Who introduced you to each other?
- What did you have in common?
- Who was your spouse living with when you met?
- When did you decide to get married?
- When did you move in together?
- When did you meet your spouse’s parents?
- When/where/how did your spouse propose to you?
- Who pays the bills?
- What did you get your spouse for his/her last birthday?
- What television shows do you watch together?
- What religious holidays do you celebrate together?
- What is the most important holiday of the year in your household?
- Do you plan on having children?
- Have you taken any trips together? Where did you go?
- How did you get there?
- Where did you stay?
- What did you do on your trip?
- Where did your spouse live when you met?
- Did you and your spouse live together prior to your marriage?
- Where do you live now?
- Where else have you lived over the past five years?
- Who pays the rent? How do you pay it? When is it paid?
Education and Employment
- What type of work does your spouse do?
- What is your spouse’s work schedule?
- How does your spouse get to work?
- What time does your spouse come home from work?
- How much money does your spouse make?
- Where did your spouse go to school?
- What is your spouse’s degree?
- What was the date of your wedding?
- What day of the week was?
- Where was the wedding?
- Who was in your wedding party?
- Did you purchase the rings together or separately?
- Did your parents attend the wedding?
- Did you have a reception?
- Who were your witnesses?
- How many people attended your wedding?
- How did you get to the venue?
- Describe the reception.
- What kind of food was served at your wedding?
- Did you serve liquor? What kind?
- What time did you and your spouse leave the reception?
- Did you go to a honeymoon? Where? When? How did you get there?
- Describe the place where you live.
- What is your current address?
- How long have you lived at your current place of residence?
- What is your landlord’s name?
- What color are the walls/the carpet/the kitchen curtains?
- When does your lease expire?
- Who are your neighbors?
- What size is your bed? What kind of mattress do you have?
- Where do you keep your clothes?
- Where do you keep your towels/dirty clothes?
- Where do you keep the spare toilet paper?
- How many television sets are in your home? Where?
- What kind of car does your spouse drive?
- What day is your garbage picked up?
- Do you have any pets?
Lifestyle and habits
- What cologne/perfume does your spouse wear?
- What side of the bed does your spouse sleep on?
- Who gets up first?
- Who makes breakfast?
- How does your spouse take his/her coffee/tea in the morning?
- Who does most of the cooking?
- Who does the grocery shopping? Where?
- How often do you eat out?
- What restaurants do you frequent on special occasions?
- Is your stove gas or electric?
- Is there a particular meal you eat every week?
- Where do you keep your toothbrushes?
- What brand of toothpaste/soap/shampoo/laundry detergent do you use?
- When did you last have intimate relations?
- When was your spouse’s last menstrual period?
- What do you and your spouse usually argue about?
- What does a typical weekend look like for you and your spouse?
- Does your spouse listen to music? What kind of device do they use?
- Who does the dishes?
- How often do you call or text each other?
Questions in relation to the day of your marriage green card interview
- Did you come to the interview together?
- Did you use a personal vehicle or public transportation?
- Where did you park your car?
- What time did you go to bed last night?
- What did you have for dinner?
- Who woke up first this morning?
- What did you have for breakfast?
- Did you or your spouse go to work yesterday?
This is not an exhaustive list of questions, but it covers the broader topics and offers examples of the frequently asked marriage-based green card interview questions. When preparing for your green card marriage interview, you and your spouse should get comfortable answering these and similar questions about the details of your marriage and relationship.
e. Interviewing – together or separately?
You and your spouse will generally be interviewed together, but you may be asked to interview separately. You may be interviewed by the same officer one at a time, or by two different officers at the same time. The answers to your green card marriage interview questions will be compared if you are interviewed separately.
There are several reasons why you might be asked to conduct your green card marriage interview separately, such as a large age gap, a short marriage, different addresses for both spouses, potentially adverse evidence. Even if you are separated, you should remain calm. If your relationship is genuine, you have nothing to worry about.
f. Tips – Do’s and Don’ts
Be punctual. Your green card marriage interview notice will indicate the time of your interview. Try to arrive at least 30 minutes in advance.
Act normally. Do not withhold or exaggerate attention to your spouse. Behave as you would in any other social situation.
Dress appropriately. Every aspect of your demeanor and behavior is under scrutiny, including your attire. Treat your marriage-based green card interview as a job interview or a court date, and dress accordingly.
Be polite and respectful. The USCIS officer conducting your marriage-based green card interview might deliberately try to intimidate you or make you nervous. Keep your composure, do not raise your voice, or talk back. It is the officer’s job to verify the truthfulness of their relationship, so do not take their approach personally. Keep eye contact and remain as calm as possible.
Do not lie. Even if you cannot remember the answer to a question, it is much better to be honest and say so than it is to make an answer up on the spot. If you and your spouse are separated at the time of the marriage-based green card interview, do not try to predict his or her answers, but simply answer truthfully.
Try to talk slow and articulate. Speak up, if you are a quiet speaker. Make certain that the officer can hear and understand your answers, and try to keep them succinct and to the point. Do not bring up anything you haven’t been asked.
Bring a matching set of house keys. Sometimes the USCIS officer might ask you to provide your house keys so as to verify that they are identical.
Don’t panic. Whatever happens, panicking will only make things worse. The calmer and more comfortable you are, the smoother your green card marriage-based interview will go.
What are the next steps after the green card marriage interview?
There are several possible outcomes following your marriage-based green card interview:
Your adjustment of status application is approved. You will usually be told so at the end of your green card marriage interview. The officer will put an I-551 stamp in your passport that will allow you to work, as well as to travel outside of the United States. The stamp is valid for 30 days, which is roughly the amount of time it will take for your green card to arrive in the mail.
Your marriage-based green card interview will not necessarily end with a decision. You should not be discouraged if you do not receive a stamp at the end of your interview.
During your green card marriage interview, the officer might determine that not enough evidence has been submitted in support of your case. You will be issued a Request for Evidence (RFE), and you will have to submit to USCIS additional documentary proof of the authenticity of your marriage, such as joint bills, bank account statements, support letters from friends or family attesting to the validity of your marriage.
3. Additional review
Your interviewing officer might decide that the information and documentation you have provided, as well as your responses during the interview, need to undergo additional review. If that is the case, USCIS will notify you of their decision at a later date.
4. Second green card marriage interview
You might be asked to attend a second green card marriage interview if the USCIS Officer found inconsistencies in your application. If you and your spouse were together at your first interview, you might be separated at the second one. This is known as a “Stokes” interview. You will be asked an identical set of questions and your answers will later be compared to see whether they match. If you are called in for a second interview, you will likely be interviewed by a DHS officer from the Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) unit.
The officer might decide to deny your case. While this may happen on the spot, you will most likely be notified at a later date and not at the end of your green card marriage interview. Even if your case is denied, you will have the opportunity to appeal the decision, or to submit additional information and ask USCIS to reconsider.
Green card interview after 2 years of marriage
When you get your marriage-based green card, you are given conditional permanent residence, rather than permanent residence. The conditional status of your green card lasts 2 years, after which you have to file for removal of conditions.
Within 90 days of the expiry date of your conditional green card, you and your spouse will have to file Form I-751, along with proof that you have resided together for the past two years, that you have joined your financial and social lives, and that your marriage is still valid.
In some cases, you will be asked to attend an I-751 interview, which will be similar to the green card marriage interview and will serve as confirmation to USCIS that your marriage is genuine.
The green card marriage interview can be a stressful part of your marriage-based green card process. With the right preparation and with help from your immigration attorney, the marriage-based green card interview can be a smooth and stress-free experience for you and your spouse.
- Would like to sponsor your foreign national spouse for a green card;
- Are a foreign national married to a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident and need help applying for permanent residence;
- Would like an immigration strategy that has been custom-made for you and your spouse;
- Are searching for an immigration lawyer near you;
Then we at Pandev Law, LLC are here for you.
Our immigration attorney can devise a marriage-based green card strategy tailor-made to accommodate the particular needs of your case and prepare your marriage-based petition in accordance with all the pertinent immigration rules.
During your consultation, our marriage-based immigration lawyer will provide an honest assessment of your case, and a recommendation about your next steps.
Disclaimer: This blog article is provided by Pandev Law, LLC for general educational and informational purposes only. Although this article discusses general legal issues, it does not constitute legal advice nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship. No reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information presented in this article, or elsewhere on this website, without seeking the advice of appropriate legal counsel, or other professional counsel, licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. Pandev Law, LLC expressly disclaims any and all liability with respect to any actions taken, or not taken, based on any content of this article or website. This blog article may constitute attorney advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.