Most certainly yes. The primary goal when applying for a Green Card through a spouse is to convince the Immigration Officer reviewing your case that the marriage with your spouse is a real marriage also known as a bona fide marriage.
What should I expect at the interview?
The interview will consist of the Immigration officer interviewing the couple together where the officer is asking questions related to how the relationship was established, how long the couple has been living together and some questions probing into issues that exist in a typical spousal relationship such as sources of income; sharing of financial obligations; and sharing of any assets or property. In asking these questions, the officer is probing for consistency in the answers and for the answers to make sense within the context of a typical spousal relationship. At the same time the officer is trained to observe any reactions or cues by that could indicate dishonesty. Officers understand that the interview can be stressful and that there are facts that members of the couple may not remember, so the officer is not probing for perfect answers or observing for perfect behavior, but as stated, the officer is looking to see whether under the circumstances of the relationship the answers make sense, are consistent and don’t trigger an unusual and/or inappropriate reaction.
How should my spouse and I prepare for the interview?
The first thing to remember is that this is not a memorization test or a test to determine if you are the perfect couple. If the couple has been living together as a married couple, there is less to be concerned about since in most cases your answers are based on common everyday issues that exist between most couples. If you want to have an interview that runs more smoothly, you may want to make efforts to remember milestone dates in your relationship. When you met each other; who asked who on a first date; who proposed and when and birth dates. Again, memory of exact dates is not fatal, but you also do not want the answers to be completely off. For example, if the officer asks the couple when you both met, you want your answers to be reasonably close in time. You don’t want one member of the couple give an answer of Spring of 2012 and the other answer Winter of 2008. Even this answer may not be fatal by itself, but it will get you off on the wrong foot and if the officer hears more significant unjustified inconsistencies then the case maybe headed towards a Stokes interview and a possible denial.
What if I have trouble remembering exact dates?
Again, not being able to remember exact dates is not fatal. First, try to at least remember reasonable time frames. Second as stated, make sure the time frames are close to the exact date in issue. Lastly, if remembering dates is an issue, then focus more on remembering more intimate facts and issues related to the relationship like how the couple met, who proposed and facts such as names of parents or the number of siblings your spouse has. Also remember, the stronger the documentary evidence the less the officer will rely on answers at the interview unless the answers become excessively inconsistent with the answers your spouse provides and/or are inconsistent with the documents submitted with the application.
When should we expect the interview to occur?
All family based green card processes start with an initial petition identified as the I-130 filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, (USCIS). If you will be undergoing the process where you will be applying through the Adjustment of Status process where you will not have to depart the United States, the interview will likely be the last step in the process which will occur some 4-8 months after you file your application. See more information about the family based Adjustment of Status process by clicking here.
If the beneficiary will have to go through Consular Processing to obtain the green card where the beneficiary is abroad or if living in the United States, will have to depart the United States to complete the process, the beneficiary may have to go through two potential interviews. If the beneficiary is living in the United States, one interview may happen about 4 months after the I-130 is filed where the couple appears at USCIS for the interview. This interview would be similar to the final interview conducted at the end of the Adjustment of Status process where as discussed, the officer is determining whether the marriage is real. However, a successful interview only means that the I-130 is approved, not the whole case.
Upon approval of the I-130 petition, the case goes to the US consulate abroad for a second interview where a consular officer will only interview the beneficiary. Although only the beneficiary is interviewed, the Consular officer will still question regarding the relationship. Review information explaining family based Consular Processing by clicking here. Likewise, if the beneficiary is abroad, the petitioner maybe called into an interview with USCIS. Understand that the I-130 interview is not a certainty. Sometimes these interviews are scheduled randomly and sometimes there is something about the marriage that concerns the officer enough to trigger the interview. If you are certain that there are no issues with the marriage, it should not be concerning. However, if you or your spouse believe that there could be something about your marriage that raises a red flag, if you do not already have an attorney, you should hire one of our experienced attorneys to review your case and prepare you for the interview.
Can you list some typical questions asked at the interview?
Some of the typical questions we have encountered include but are not limited to the following:
- Where the couple met?
- Where and when was the first date?
- When the relationship became romantic?
- Who proposed?
- When did the couple meet each other’s parents?
- How many people attended the wedding?
- Who is the primary income provider?
- Each couple’s birthday?
- Does the couple attend church?
- When did the couple start living together?
What is a Stokes interview?
The Stokes interview is the more invasive version of the marriage interview conducted within the United States where the immigration officer suspects that the marriage was entered solely for the purpose of obtaining the green card. Typically, this interview is scheduled when the first interview does not go well. You can consider this to be a marriage fraud interview where the couple is given a chance to prove that the marriage not a sham. This interview will take much longer than a typical marriage interview where the couple is separated and asked more personal and intimate questions about the relationship and living arrangements. After the separated interview, the couple is then brought together where they are given the opportunity to explain any discrepancies in answers. If the officer is not satisfied that the marriage was only entered to obtain the green card, the I-130 petition will be denied. Typical Stokes interview questions include but are not limited to the following:
- Who does the laundry?
- Who makes breakfast?
- What did you eat for breakfast today?
- What kind of mattress does the couple own?
- Does the couple watch television before going to sleep?
- What kind of shampoo or soap does the couple use?
- What time did the couple go to sleep last night?
- How many televisions/computers does the couple own?
- How many toilets does the home have?
- Who sets the alarm clock?
- Who wakes up first in the morning?
In preparation of your interview, including a Stokes interview you should consult with our attorneys to review your case to identify the potential red flags raised by your case and to guide with respect to the questions you will likely be asked.
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