If you are a foreign national married to a U.S. citizen, you may plan to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States—commonly known as a “green card” holder. You probably know that part of this process involves an interview with your spouse. But you may not know what to expect from your green card marriage interview. In this blog post, we will give you some information that can help you prepare for this important event.
Much of what people know about the marriage interview comes from scenes in movies such as “Green Card” or “The Proposal.” Like much in the movies, these scenes are designed to be humorous or dramatic, but not necessarily accurate. In real life, the stakes are high and preparation is key.
You can be sure that your interviewer will have in front of him or her the paperwork that you have submitted, so you and your spouse should be very familiar with everything in those documents. Everything in the documents should be true, so review them before the interview. If there is a mistake, or something has changed, you can explain to your interviewer. You do not want to confirm during the interview that the forms were correct only to discover later that you were wrong.
The purpose of the interview is to confirm that your marriage is a legitimate one, not a fraud for the purposes of deceiving immigration officials. You and your spouse should expect to be asked questions that normal spouses can easily answer about one another, such as questions about:
Often women pay more attention to such details than men do, but it’s always worth reviewing the details of your life with each other before going in to the interview. An experienced immigration attorney can help you prepare for the questioning you will experience.
Make sure that both you and your spouse bring your identification, including driver license or state ID cards, passports, and Social Security cards, along with anything else you have been instructed to bring.
You will want to bring documentation of your joint life with your spouse to the interview. If you have a deed to your home or apartment lease with both your names, those are helpful evidence that you do live together. Copies of any joint contracts you have, such as for health insurance or membership at a gym, support the idea that you have a real life together. Bring a copy of your most recent joint tax return, and previous joint returns if you have them.
Of course, a picture is worth a thousand words, and if you have photographs of you and your spouse together, especially dating back for some time, those will speak loudly to the authenticity of your relationship. Bring your wedding album, and copies of any photos of you together, especially those that date back for some time or show you together at family events.
Be aware that you may not be able to have your cell phone with you in the interview (most federal buildings do not allow phones with cameras brought in), so if there are pictures on your phone you want to show as evidence of your relationship, you should get them printed out at a local drugstore.
There are any number of items that can support your position that you and your spouse have a real marriage, like letters addressed to both of you at your home. When in doubt, bring more evidence, rather than less, and ask your attorney for guidance.
One other note: your spouse cannot translate for you so if you require a translator, ask your lawyer to confirm whether one will be provided or if you should bring one with you.
Your interviewer will begin by asking you questions to confirm the information you gave in your paperwork, then will ask you questions about how you came to the United States, how you entered the country, and so forth. Lastly, you will be asked questions to verify your relationship with your spouse.You and your spouse will most likely be interviewed in a small office, not a courtroom or conference room. You will remain standing while you and your spouse are sworn in. This means you are under oath and promise to tell the truth. If you have an interpreter, the interpreter will be sworn in, too. While you might be called at your appointment time, you might also have to wait for a while. Don’t worry; this is fairly typical.
If you don’t know the answer to a question, just say that. Don’t make something up and don’t guess. Either of these things could be interpreted as lying. Remember also that your body language is important. It is understandable that you might be nervous; this interview is very important to your chances of getting a green card. But try to be as relaxed as you can be, and try not to show any tension between yourself and your spouse.
You and your spouse will be interviewed together initially, but there is a chance that you may be separated and asked the same questions separately, especially if the interviewer suggests fraud. Do not panic. Just answer the questions as truthfully as you can.
The best way to make sure that you have a successful green card marriage interview is to prepare in advance with the help of your immigration attorney. The attorney is familiar with the government’s procedures and can help to put your mind at ease.
If you have questions about preparing your green card marriage interview, we invite you to contact our law office to schedule a consultation.