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What To Expect During A Marriage-Based Interview?

So having filed your immigration paperwork with USCIS and after enduring the prolonged processing times USCIS has now sent you a notice asking you to appear for an interview. So, what can you expect?

Clients often ask me how they can prepare for an interview and want a set list of questions; however, there is no set list and the questions can differ from one interview to the next. My view is that if the marriage is bona-fide then you shouldn’t need to do any additional preparation. With that being said, it’s understandable to be nervous as this is a life-changing event and you will definitely want to be familiar with the paperwork which you have submitted.  This means reviewing the I-130 and I-485 filings to ensure that the answers you give are not inconsistent with the information in your file. After all, not everyone can remember the exact dates they lived at certain addresses etc. If you don’t know an answer or can’t remember, then be honest.

If an officer has concerns about the bona-fide nature of your marriage, then it’s possible you will receive a Request for Further Evidence (“RFE”) asking for further documentation before being scheduled for an interview.  However, this is not always the case and officers don’t always have much time to review your file prior to the interview. This is especially true right now, given that the agency is so understaffed.

For some couples, the interview process is a walk in the park. If you have been together for many years, own a house, share finances, have children together etc., then the officer is unlikely to ask too many questions. The majority of questions will be to confirm the information in the file.

However, for couples who have not known each other that long, met online or perhaps are not living together then the officer is likely to ask questions to ensure that you are getting married for the right reason and not purely to obtain a green card. The officer may ask the following questions about the history of your relationship:

  • How did you first meet?
  • Where did you go on your first date?
  • How did you propose to your spouse?
  • What things do you like doing together?
  • How long after getting together did you decide to get married?
  • How many people attended your wedding?
  • Where did you go on your honeymoon and how long did you go for?

The officer may also ask some general questions like:

  • What is your father-in-law’s name?
  • How many siblings does your spouse have?
  • What did you eat last night? Who did the cooking?
  • When was the last time you took a trip together and where did you go?
  • What time does your spouse get up in the morning?
  • What is your spouse’s favorite thing to do?
  • Who sleeps on which side of the bed?

The questions listed above are just a few examples of the types of questions that may be asked. As you can see, they are not difficult questions and anyone who is in a genuine relationship should be able to answer each of them with ease.

We typically recommend to our clients to take as much evidence to their interview as possible. Because interviews can be scheduled 12-18 months after the date of filing it is good idea to take a binder of documents covering the period from the date of filing right up until the interview. This should include, in so far as is possible, evidence of cohabitation, comingling of funds and communications.

While couples are generally interviewed together, if the officer discovers inconsistencies in the evidence or answers to questions, they may interview them separately.

For couples where the spouse is abroad and has only filed the I-130, the interview will take place at a US Consulate outside of the U.S. However, the above information still applies.

The best advice we can give is to relax and remember you can’t be expected to know the answer to every question. Officers are looking to weed out individuals who have married solely for the purpose of obtaining a green card. If you are in a genuine relationship, you have nothing to fear.

For any questions related to the above or any immigration-related matters please contact PLG Partner Chris Prescott at cprescott@patellegal.com.

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