How To Prepare For the Marriage Green Card Interview?
The final step in the U.S. Marriage Green Card application process is the official interview. For couples already residing in the U.S., this interview is handled by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It determines whether or not they are approved for an Adjustment of Status.
The primary purpose of the interview is to ensure the marriage is authentic and not just a means of obtaining U.S. citizenship. Interviewing officers will typically ask personal questions about the couple’s past, daily life, and relationship until they are convinced the marriage is not fraudulent and is a genuine partnership.
The interview occurs after the USCIS has reviewed the green card application materials and sent the couple’s file to the nearest USCIS field office. That local office will contact the applicant and their spouse with a time, date, and location to attend the interview.
Prepare for the Marriage Green Card Interview
The interview can be daunting as it is one of the most critical steps in the marriage green card application process. However, with the proper preparation and forethought, couples can pass their interview and obtain a green card without any issues. Read our blog about common questions asked in the marriage interview.
Steps to Prepare For The Marriage Green Card Interview
- Plan together: Couples can sit together in the weeks leading up to the interview and take inventory of important dates or events in their relationship. This will help refresh memories that might be discussed in the interview.
- Gather the required documents: All interviewees must attend the interview with the necessary documents. It’s best to organize these in advance to avoid any stress on the day of the interview. This will include official documents like passport copies, birth certificates, and the couple’s marriage certificate.
- Organize your proof of marriage file: All applicants must submit additional documentation to authenticate their relationship. This might include photos taken together, joint bank statements, joint property documents, copies of flight tickets from holidays taken together, or their children's birth certificates.
It is best to organize documents in chronological order and by the event. This will give the interviewing officer a clear picture of the marriage over time and won’t be overwhelming. At the same time, there should be enough information that they won’t question whether the marriage is fraudulent.
It can take a long time to get a marriage green card, so take your time when gathering your documents and preparing for the marriage green card interview.
If anything has changed since the marriage green card application was first submitted, including a change of employer, address, or childbirth, it’s best to inform the interviewer and provide substantiating evidence.
If you are starting to prepare for the marriage green card interview and would like to speak to a lawyer, you can schedule a consultation with a lawyer on our booking page.
Required Documents for the Marriage Green Card Interview
Documents are very important and will help you prepare for the marriage green card interview.
Applicants should organize and bring some documents to help the interview process go smoothly. For applicants applying from inside the country through the Adjustment of Status pipeline, the following documents are required:
- Appointment Notice issued by USCIS for the interview
- State-issued Driver’s License(s) of both Petitioner and Beneficiary
- Marriage and Divorce Certificates (or Death Certificate if widowed) - Originals
- Birth certificates of both Petitioner and Beneficiary - Originals
- Children’s Birth Certificates – Originals
- Passport and U.S. Visa(s), both current and expired – Originals
- Spouse’s Income tax returns and W2s for the most recent three years
- Three most recent pay statements of sponsor or joint sponsor (to show continued availability of income)
- Criminal Record(s) – both arrest and court records - Originals certified by the court or arresting agency
- Any additional bonafide marriage documentation that you may have received after the filing of the initial
- Birth certificates of any children born of the marriage
- Joint accounts
- Jointly filed Income Tax Returns
- Proof of shared residence like joint lease agreement/extension, joint water, electric, internet/cable bills, etc.
- Statements from friends/family members
- Screenshots of messages showing frequent communication over time
- Social media posts about your relationship
- Phone records showing frequent communication over time
- Receipts for gifts
- Any other evidence that demonstrates an ongoing marital relationship
*Please note, if a document is not applicable, i.e., you have never been divorced, please disregard that item. You should consult with the attorney if some of the original documents listed above are unavailable due to theft or loss. If you have a criminal record, additional evidence may be required, you should consult with the attorney
Green Card Marriage Interview Location
After the USCIS has reviewed the application and supporting documents, they will inform the applicant of their interview date, time, and location. The interview location for Adjustment of Status applicants will be at the USCIS office nearest the applicant.
Who Can Attend the Marriage Green Card Interview?
Some circumstances in which the interview attendees might include more than just the applicant and their spouse. These are all questions you should ask yourself when starting to prepare for the marriage green card interview.
Applicants who are not fluent in English may opt to bring an interpreter for the interview to ensure they answer the questions as thoroughly as possible. Interpreters should be officially registered and ready to present their valid government-issued ID, undertake an interpreter’s oath, and sign a privacy release statement. They must be prepared to carefully and truthfully translate the applicant’s words without interjecting their opinions or commentary.
The USCIS can disqualify an interpreter if they believe they might compromise the authenticity of the interview or if they are deemed unqualified. Applicants should opt for a professional, unbiased interpreter with a good track record and understanding of the process.
Some applicants might choose to bring a lawyer to the interview, especially those with minor criminal or immigration infractions on their permanent record. A lawyer can assist in explaining those events to the interviewing officer.
Friends and family:
Usually, friends and family are not permitted to attend the interview, apart from the applicant’s spouse. Extenuating circumstances might allow for a family member to attend, but this must be disclosed on the interview form in advance.
The Marriage Green Card Interview Process
Marriage green card interviews through Adjustment of Status are conducted by a USCIS officer inside the U.S. These specially trained officers looking to detect any signs that the marriage is fraudulent. USCIS interviewers will ask personal questions about the applicant’s relationship with their spouse to understand all the details, the circumstances surrounding the applicant’s arrival to the U.S., any issues on their criminal record, and their immigration history. Applicants must be honest and straightforward.
The interview will cover topics related to the history of the marriage, the couple’s daily life together, their future goals, their hobbies, and any shared aspects of their lives. The interviewer will ask about basic information concerning both spouses’ employment, the status of their finances, and what kind of property they own. Interviewers will also consider all the proof of marriage documentation, including children's birth certificates, joint property ownership documents, joint bank statements or tax returns, photos from significant events in their marriage, and more.
Some sample questions might include anything from ‘what color are your sheets’ to ‘where did you last go on vacation’? If the applicant or their spouse does not know an answer, it’s best to admit they don’t remember rather than be dishonest. Honesty is the most important thing when it comes to answering interview questions. Couples can prepare by reviewing aspects of their relationship together.
What is a Marriage Fraud or Stokes Interview?
In some cases, the USCIS officer may separate the two spouses, interview them with the same questions, and compare the answers afterward. This is known as a ‘Stokes’ interview and is usually done when the interviewer suspects the marriage may be fraudulent. These interviews are usually conducted by a member of the USCIS Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) unit. A Stokes interview could be conducted as the initial interview or as a follow-up procedure.
There are three potential reasons a Stokes interview might be conducted:
- The USCIS has noted some aspects of the couple's answers or behavior that could indicate a fraudulent marriage. These “red flags” might include a short marriage, the spouses coming from very different cultural backgrounds, a significant age difference, or having different addresses publicly listed.
- The USCIS has conducted an investigation through the FDNS and uncovered evidence that the marriage is a sham.
- The USCIS officer determined during the interview that they want to explore some answers in more depth by separating the couple.
What happens after the marriage green card interview?
After the marriage green card interview is conducted, there are typically five possible outcomes:
- Approval: The marriage green card is approved by the interviewing officer, and the couple is informed.
- Request for Evidence: The officer will issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) to get more documentation and proof of authenticity from the couple.
- Additional review: The officer will decide the case needs additional review and will inform the couple that information about the next steps will arrive in the mail.
- Second interview: The officer will invite the couple back for a second interview to go deeper into aspects of their marriage. A notice for this second interview will arrive by mail from the USCIS.
- Denial: The officer denies the marriage green card on the spot if they determine the marriage as fraudulent. Most couples will be given a chance to explain their situation before making a final decision to prove their marriage is real.
Prepare For The Marriage Green Card Interview FAQs
How will I know where to go for my marriage green card interview?
Applicants for a U.S. marriage green card from inside the U.S. will receive all the information for their interview by mail after processing their application. As they apply through Adjustment of Status, they will receive this information from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
What is the marriage green card interview process?
For applicants inside the U.S. applying for a marriage green card through Adjustment of Status, the interview process is conducted at the nearest USCIS office. Applicants will attend the interview with their spouse and bring all required supporting documents for their application. The interviewer will ask many detailed questions about the marriage to determine if it is authentic or fraudulent. The interviewer will then decide the status of the application or request more information or a second interview. Couples might be separated to conduct a Stokes interview. They will be asked the same questions, and the USCIS officer will review their answers afterward. This is only done in specific cases.
Who can I bring to the marriage green card interview?
Typically applicants should attend the interview with their spouse. Interpreters and lawyers may also attend depending on the applicant’s specific needs.
What happens after the marriage green card interview?
After the green card interview, the interviewer will make their final decision or request further steps be taken. This could include another interview or a Request for Evidence (RFE) that helps them better understand the nature of the marriage and its authenticity.
Can a J-1 Visa Holder Get A Marriage Green Card?
Yes. You must check the exchange program requirements to see if you are eligible. Many J-1 exchange visitors must return to their home country for two years after they complete their program. In this circumstance, the J-1 visa holder must apply for their marriage green card from their home country.