Interviews are the means by which U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services evaluates immigrants who wish to obtain legal permanent residence (green card) in the United States. Understandably, going before a USCIS officer can be intimidating, but rest assured that an interview notice is not cause for alarm.
Why Am I Being Interviewed?
An interview for adjustment of status is a routine part of the marriage-based adjustment of status process, and USCIS uses it to confirm information which you have already submitted, while also affording you the opportunity to present new evidence. The purpose of the interview is to verify that a visa is immediately available to you, that you are not otherwise inadmissible and, most poignantly, that you and your spouse entered into a bona fide marriage rather than for the sole purpose of receiving a green card.
What to Bring to an AOS Interview
Your interview confirmation notice includes a great deal of information about what you should take with you to the interview, including but not limited to:
- Your passport, U.S. visa and most recent I-94
- Originals of any documents submitted to USCIS, e.g., birth certificates, marriage certificate, social security card, state IDs, etc.
- A completed and sealed medical examination report (Form I-693)
- Originals and copies of any documents in support of your shared life, e.g., wedding invitation, lease agreement, evidence of any joint mortgage(s), joint bank and credit card statements, utility bills showing joint residence, photo album (with copies ready to be submitted), etc.
The officer will ask about any changes in your life and will update your application accordingly. If there are any life changes, such as the birth of a child or a newly acquired job by the petitioner, be prepared to present evidence in support of the same, e.g., your child’s birth certificate, employment verification letter, etc.
You may also have your legal representative present during the interview. While you do not “need” an attorney to be with you, the presence of competent counsel can help facilitate a pleasant experience and, perhaps more importantly, serve as a confidence booster. An immigration attorney is most helpful, however, in helping you prepare for the interview—as opposed to simply being there on the day of the interview.
You will be sworn in by the USCIS officer to tell the truth and nothing but the truth, and he or she will then verify your identity by reviewing your documents. Once the interview begins, the officer will evaluate your file and ask you specific questions about the information in your petition and application for legal permanent residence.
Remember: You already provided this information on your I-130 and I-485 application forms!
After verifying the accuracy of this information, the officer will ask you questions about your relationship to determine the bona fidenature of your marriage.
The USCIS officer may ask you:
- How and where did you meet?
- Did you go on a first date and, if so, where?
- Who proposed to whom and how?
- How many people attended your wedding?
- Who carries the financial responsibilities of the household?
- Do you have a joint bank account?
- What is your spouse’s birthday?
- What is your spouse’s work schedule like?
- What was the last movie you watched together?
These may seem like intrusive questions, but the point here is to show that your marriage is not fraudulent—so answer the questions as accurately and transparently as possible. As a general rule, if your marriage is genuine, then you have nothing to worry about.
Remember: no one knows your life better than you, and you will do great!
I’ve Had My Interview . . . Now What?
If the officer determines that your marriage is valid based on a preponderance of the evidence (meaning, greater than 51%), he or she will approve the issuance of your green card. While some officers do not mind telling you whether your case will be recommended for approval right then and there, most assert the usual, “We will conduct a final review of your case and, if everything looks good, you will receive your decision in the mail.” If, on the other hand, the interview leaves some questions unanswered or some doubt about your relationship, you will either receive a request for additional evidence or be scheduled for a second interview.
Keep in mind that getting your official green card may take time. USCIS offices around the country are pushing to issue green cards as soon as practicable, but internal staffing issues, pandemic-related hurdles and new policy changes may slow down the process in your area.
The most important thing to remember for your interview is that USCIS officers are not likely to ask questions to try to trick you. Also, if asked a question whose answer you do not know or recall (e.g., specific dates, places, etc.), it is perfectly acceptable to say, “I am sorry officer, I don’t know—it’s been a while.” Just be yourself!
While having an attorney is not a must, the best way to ensure peace of mind throughout the adjustment of status process, including the marriage-based interview, is to have competent counsel by your side. A qualified legal professional can help you prepare ahead of time and alleviate some of your stress.
Contact Takhsh Law P.C. for more information.