How to Prepare for the Marriage Green Card Interview
One of the most important parts of the green card application process is the interview. In the green card interview, applicants must prove the legitimacy of their marriage by providing details and proof of their relationship.
These interviews both confirm the eligibility of the applicants and prevent fraudulent green card marriages, so the success of your application depends on a good interview. This article helps you prepare for your interview by providing you with a guide on the types of questions you will be asked, and the interview process as a whole.
What is a Marriage Green Card Interview
The ultimate success of your green card application hinges on the approval of the consular officer who conducts your green card interview. Regardless of your eligibility or the quality of your application, if you cannot convince the interviewing officer of the legitimacy of your application, you will not be accepted.
Consular green card interviews usually only last about 20-30 minutes and involve the consular officer asking questions about the answers on your green card forms. However, interviews for marriage-based green cards tend to be more invasive than other types of green card applications.
Marriage-based green cards are perhaps the most common source of fraudulent green card applications, so immigration officials bring particular scrutiny to these applications.
Typically, the spouse (or beneficiary) of the application is interviewed, while the petitioner need not attend. Any children that will be immigrating to the United States with the beneficiary also must be present at the interview. Applicants should check with the U.S. consulate that will be conducting their interview for confirmation on who must attend.
What Do You Need to Bring to Your Interview?
When you receive the appointment notice for your consular interview, it should come with a list of items that you should bring to your interview. This includes:
- The appointment letter sent to you by the National Visa Center (NVC)
- A valid passport that will not expire for at least 6 months after you enter the United States, and a copy of the biographic page featuring your name and photo
- Two 2×2 inches (or 5x5cm) color passport photos with a white background
- All necessary civil documents (both the original document and a copy)
- An updated police certificate (if necessary, inquire further with your local consulate)
- Translations (by a competent translator) of any documents that are not in English or the official language of the applicant’s home country
- Results from your medical exam in a sealed, unopened envelope (if you have the results)
- The confirmation page from your DS-260, Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application
- An affidavit of support signed by the petitioner, and any other supporting documents from financial sponsors who completed a Form I-864 for your visa application
- Proof demonstrating the legal status and legal residence of the petitioner in the United States (this can include a copy of the petitioner’s passport, naturalization certificate, or green card)
It is a good practice to bring both the original copy and a photocopy of any civil or supporting documents that you must submit to the consulate.
Interview Questions for a Marriage Green Card
The importance of the green card interview makes preparation extremely valuable. You should have a detailed knowledge of all the information that you submitted in your green card forms, and be prepared to answer questions on your responses.
Read the following section for a guide on the types of information that you can expect to be asked about in your consular interview.
How You Met
The first set of questions will likely be about how your relationship began, and what steps led to your marriage. Since the interviewer is trying to determine if your marriage is honest and legitimate, you should demonstrate clearly that you and your spouse established a close relationship and fell in love before getting married. Prepare to provide information on:
- Where you met your spouse
- What common interests you have with your spouse
- Where/when your first date was
- When your relationship became romantic
- How long after you became romantic you decided to get married
- Who proposed marriage
- The length of your engagement
- When you met each other’s parents
Inquiring about the details of your wedding is one way that the interviewer will likely probe the legitimacy of your relationship. Since most couples place great value on their wedding, you will be expected to provide details on that day, including the following:
- The number of people who attended your wedding
- Important people who attended your wedding (parents, boss, etc.)
- The date and location of the wedding
- Information on the bridesmaids and groomsmen
- Information on the honeymoon
Questions about intimate details of your marriage and how you function as a couple are common. You will likely be questioned about the following information:
- Who handles the finances
- Spouse’s birthday
- Your anniversary as a couple
- Whether or not you are religious
- Plans for having children
- Information on previous marriages and children from previous relationships
- Whether or not you currently live together, and whether you plan to in the future
- How much time you spend together
Friends, Family, and Other Relations
Asking for details on your spouse’s family and relations is another way that interviewers determine legitimacy. This may include questions about the following information:
- Whether you have met your spouse’s family and how often you see them
- The last time you saw your spouse’s family
- How you celebrate holidays
- The number of siblings your spouse has
- The number of nieces and nephews your spouse has, and whether you have relationships with them
- Whether or not you and your spouse have mutual friends
- Names of your spouse’s closest friends
Expect questions on the educational background of your spouse, regarding information like:
- Where they went to school
- Whether or not they went to college
- What was your spouse’s major in college (if applicable)
Another common area of questioning is the employment of your spouse. Prepare answers for questions regarding:
- Your spouse’s current employer
- The duration that your spouse has been with their current employer
- Your spouse’s position with their current employer
- Previous workplaces and positions held
Once you have completed your interview, you now must wait for your application to be approved. The wait time for green card approval varies, though typically you will receive notice within a few weeks of your interview. If you do not receive notice within this period, it may be because your application has been flagged for an additional security review.
When your application is approved, your passport is returned to you along with your new conditional green card. At this point, you can enter the United States as a legal permanent resident.
Stokes Interview (Marriage Fraud)
Sometimes, applicants raise the suspicion of the interviewer when answering questions about their marriage and are asked to return for a second interview. This is known as a Stokes (or marriage fraud) interview. Suspicion can be raised by spouses answering questions differently, hesitating or having difficulty answering basic questions, or being unable to answer questions.
For the Stokes interview, each spouse is interviewed separately in different rooms by an immigration officer. Spouses are asked the same questions, and then the interviewing officer compares the answers each spouse provides.
If the spouse’s answers do not match, then the application will likely be rejected. Immigrant spouses in the United States will have removal proceedings started against them, possibly resulting in deportation.
How Much Does a Marriage Green Card Cost?
Green card petitions are costly, and applicants often struggle to cover the related costs. If the immigrant spouse is in the United States, the total fee is $1,760, while petitions for spouses outside the country cost a total of $980.
There is no reason to let the cost of a green card petition prevent you from obtaining permanent residence, however. There are simple steps that you can take to cover the cost, like taking out a personal loan. If you have a decent credit score, stable income, or a cosigner, then you can get a personal loan in just a few days by filling out a simple application.
As long as you were honest and forthright in your responses on your green card forms, you should not have a problem in your interview. Preparing for your interview simply involves reviewing your forms and ensuring that your interview answers are consistent with your form responses. Go over the information listed above with your spouse and ensure that you have a common understanding of the facts of your relationship.
Once you have completed the interview, as long as you do not get flagged for a second interview, the toughest part of the green card petition process is done.