Green card interviews are designed to seek out fraudulent marriages. Because there are a limited number of green cards that can be given out on an annual basis, and also because of a United States security component to authorizing green cards, officers need to make sure that those who have them, have them rightfully and according to USCIS protocol. When preparing for a marriage green card interview, there are things to be considered.
Questions? Here are some commonly asked questions about marriage green card interview.
Q: Does my U.S. citizen spouse need to accompany me to the green card interview?
A: If you have filed a marriage green card application, and both you and your spouse live in the United States and your spouse has filed an Affidavit of Support and an I-130 petition on your behalf, then you will both need to attend the green card interview.
Q: Does my spouse, who is a U.S. green card holder, need to attend the marriage green card interview?
A: If you have filed an I-485 application seeking a marriage green card, and both you and your spouse are currently living in the United States, then you both need to attend the green card interview, regardless if your spouse is a citizen or LPR.
Q: Will the case officer ask questions relating to our pooled finances?
A: The case officer might ask the couple attending the marriage green card interview if they have a shared/joint bank account. They might also ask questions pertaining to the couple's rent payments, or pooled incomes. In general, the officer will try to gauge how resources are being shared in the relationship.
Q: Will the case officer ask questions relating to small details in our relationship?
A: It’s possible. The case officer might ask the couple where they first met, where they went on their honeymoon, verify how many years they have been married, or even ask one spouse what the others' favorite food is.
Q: What documents do I need to bring to my marriage green card interview?
A: There are resources on the USCIS website regarding all of the essential documents, but as far as the list goes, these should be sufficient:
- Passport/passport photo
- National/State ID
- I-94 Entry/Exit Record
- Medical exam packet
- Utility bills/rent receipts/mortgage payments
- Confirmation of appointment notice
- Child’s birth certificate (if applicable)
Q: How do I know if I have had the required vaccinations before my marriage green card interview?
A: It is the responsibility of every green card applicant (marital or not) to have completed the necessary vaccinations before their green card interview. Failure to do so will affect the outcome of one's I-485 status. A good starting point to find out if one has the required vaccinations is going to the USCIS website and finding a civil surgeon via the database provided: https://my.uscis.gov/findadoctor
Q: Can I receive a marriage green card if I am living abroad and my spouse is based in the United States?
A: Technically, you don’t receive a green card until you are based in the U.S. Spouses living abroad will if anything be granted an immigrant visa to travel to the United States if they go through consular processing. Through this avenue, they will communicate with a CBP officer upon arrival to the United States, who will then mail them a green card within 120 days to their new address.
Q: If my spouse is a U.S. green card holder and not a citizen, will there be a longer wait time for my green card?
A: Possibly. In this case, the spouse has been petitioned on behalf of a legal permanent resident and not a U.S. citizen. Therefore this classifies as F2A family-based immigration. This category almost always has demand outstrip supply. Wait times could be up to 2 years before continuing with one's application.
Q: How do I know if I will be issued a conditional or 10 year period green card?
A: If you have been married to your partner for less than 2 years on the day that you receive your green card, it will be a conditional 2-year card you will eventually have to remove the conditionality on. Otherwise, the green card issued will be most likely valid for 10 years.
Q: What happens If I need to reschedule my marriage green card interview?
A: It is possible to reschedule with the USCIS. However, this will most likely add significant wait time, possibly 1-3 months, onto your application timeline. It is best to try and make the initial appointment given to applicants.
Q: What happens if I fail the marriage green card interview?
A: Applicants can file an appeal via immigration law. An appeal is made to the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office or the Board of Immigration Appeals. Filing an appeal means you are requesting a third party to review the decision. You must submit the appeal within 30 after the decision is made using the form and the address shown on the decision notice.
Q: If all goes well during the marriage green card interview, will I be given my green card the same day?
A: No. Even if the marriage green card interview goes well for the principal applicant, the USCIS only issues green cards through the mail. 2-3 weeks after an interview is a typical timeline for receiving a green card.
Q: Will I attend the marriage green interview alone if I am in another country?
A: Technically, it will be an interview for an immigrant visa to come to the United States. If granted, Customs and Border Control will ask you for your new mailing address when you arrive at a port of entry, and they will then send you your permanent resident card.
Q: My U.S. citizen spouse lost his job just days before our marriage green card interview, what should we do?
A: Still attend the interview. There is a chance that questions relating to your spouse's job will not come up. The spouse should also be prepared to discuss his/her assets/savings/education to show the officer the couple will not be in a difficult situation regardless of the job. Overall, it is important not to lie during the green card interview.
Q: Will the case officer ask us questions about our wedding?
A: Yes, especially in the case of a marriage green card application, the interviewing officer might ask you the following: where you had your wedding ceremony, how many guests were in attendance, what kind of food was served.
Q: Will the case officer ask us questions about our kids in the interview?
A: If you have children, it’s definitely possible. The case officer reviews your I-485 before the interview as well. The case officer might ask which parents bring your children to school, verify that they live at the same address as you, and what sports they play.
Q: Can you decline to answer a question in the marriage green card interview?
A: It is not uncommon for the officer to ask very personal questions during the green card interview. If you feel that the officer has overstepped their bounds, you can decline to answer on the basis that you are uncomfortable. In most cases, the officer will understand and move onto the next question.
Q: Will the officer ask us questions about our first date in the marriage green card interview?
A: Yes, most likely. Before the interview, you and your accompanying spouse should go over the details of your first date so you do not give contradicting answers when it comes time for the interview.
Q: Will the interviewing officer ask us any open-ended questions?
A: One question that can be open for interpretation, and might catch couples off guard, is what does [the couple] have in store for the future. This question invites couples to instinctively respond to what they think might be a suitable answer. In doing so, both spouses could give different answers.
Q: How long is the marriage green card interview?
A: The entire interview should last between 15-20 minutes.
Q: Can an immigration attorney come to my green card interview?
A: According to the USCIS, an applicant has a right to an attorney at the interview, and bringing one cannot be viewed negatively in any way by the officer.
Q: Can you reschedule your marriage green card interview?
A: To reschedule your interview, you will have to go directly to a USCIS office and speak to an immigration officer and explain why you need to postpone. The USCIS will accept your request only if the reason is strong enough—for example, if your spouse was very ill during the initial appointment time.
Q: What other questions will the interviewing officer ask about our relationship and/or key dates?
A: Everything that has been submitted on the I-485 application is fair game, including the following: whether the couple has been on vacation together, when their anniversary is, how much time they spend together on the weekends if they have met each other families, and where they typically spend the holidays.
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