For most who apply for a green card on behalf of their spouse, the marriage interview is not really something to worry about. While the examiner will ask questions, the questions will be of a more general nature and are easy to answer if your relationship is legitimate. For example, the examiner may ask where you met and why you are getting married (they are looking for the word love). For this interview you will often be in the same room and the examiner will usually not separate you.
There are situations though were the interview becomes a much more difficult affair. One instance is when a husband and wife do not convince an immigration officer that their marriage was real at their first green card interview and are referred to a second interview. Another instance is when the beneficiary of the petition is in removal proceedings. In both of these situations, a “special” interview is conducted and is known as the Stokes interview. The main purpose of the Stokes Interview is for the immigration officer to determine if the marriage is real or a sham. As such, the questions are much more probing AND the parties are separated and independently asked questions.
Once separated, the immigration officer will ask very personal and intrusive questions to one party and when done will go to the next room and ask the same questions of the other party. The interview will be recorded and the statements will be compared for discrepancies. The examiner may give the couple a chance to explain discrepancies but if the immigration officer is not convinced and has reason to believe the marriage is a sham, the case will be denied.
What Types of Interview Questions Can You Expect At The Stokes Interview?
Questions at the interview will range from how many floors and apartments are in your apartment building to the amount of your rent/mortgage. Any discrepancies in your answers, however minor and seemingly inconsequential, may raise doubts about the legitimacy of your relationship. Possible questions at the interview may include:
- Are either of you on any medications? If so, which medications and how often must you take them?
- What is your mother-in-law’s maiden name? What is your father-in-law’s name?
- When was the last time you saw your in-laws?
- How many siblings does your spouse have? What are their full names and ages? Where do they live?
- Do you have a microwave at home? If so, what color is it?
- What type of flooring is in your home? You should be prepared to describe the flooring in each room. A variation of this question is what color are the walls in your bathroom, kitchen, living room and/or bedroom? What kind of/color are the window coverings in your living room?
- What is the name of your building’s management company?
- Does your building have an onsite super? If so, what is his/her name?
- What are the two cross streets closest to where you live?
- Which bus and train lines run closest to where you live?
- What does your spouse do for a living?
- What is the name of your spouse’s employer? What is the address where your spouse works? How long has he worked at that location?
- Does your spouse sleep on the left or on the right side of the bed?
- Where was your spouse born?
- When did your spouse come to the United States?
- How much money did your spouse earn in 2013?
- When was the last time your spouse travelled? Where did he go and how long was he gone?
- Who were the witnesses at your wedding? Where do they live?
- Who attended your wedding?
- What did you do after your wedding ceremony? What was the name of the restaurant where you ate or where was the reception held?
- What is your spouse’s favorite food/restaurant?
- Who is your internet/cable/phone provider?
- Where did you go on your first date?
- Who cleans your house?
- Who shops for groceries?
- Do you have any pets? Have you ever had pets? If so, what are your pets names?
- Do you have lamps next to your bed?
- What is your spouse’s favorite TV show?
- Who is your cable/internet provider?
- Who is your spouse’s best friend?
- Where do you go out to eat?
- What kind of mattress do you have?
- How often do you have sexual relations?
- When was the last time you had sexual relations?
- Where did your spouse go to school?
- Was your spouse ever married before? Does he/she have a criminal record?
- What is your spouse’s immigration history since in the U.S.?
- Where was your spouse born (which city?)
- Do you have house keys with you? (House keys are taken and compared with other party)
Even people married for many years and living together may get tripped up on some questions so if you don’t remember some detail asked of you it is better to say you don’t remember than to try to make up an answer. If you tell the truth, you do not have to worry about being caught in a lie. At times, officers may use much harsher tactics and even lie and tell one party that the other has confessed that the marriage is a sham. The examiner may also repeat questions to see if your answers are consistent. You should be prepared for anything but for the most part a legitimate marriage should pass the “test.”
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For more practical or legal advice contact Scott Legal, P.C.. We offer services in a number of business areas including, Immigration, New Business set up, Contract review and development and entrepreneurial support. Call 212-223-2964 or email email@example.com for a consultation.
Ian E. Scott is a Harvard Law School Graduate, lawyer and author of Law School Lowdown: Secrets of Success from the Application Process to Landing Your First Job. Mr. Scott worked as a corporate litigator in the law firm Cleary Gottlieb and currently runs his own law firm Scott Legal, P.C. specializing in Immigration Law & New Business set-up.