The marriage green card interview is a critical step in the I-485 application, the adjustment of status. Green card interviews are designed, according to immigration experts, 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.
As such, the marriage interview depends heavily on both partners to show up to the interview and be prepared to answer a range of questions that pertain to their marriage, how they met, and how their life is going. These questions might come off as obscure to the interviewees if they are not ready for the interview. Many who have been through this process comment on some of the questions that are asked by officers, such as:
- Where did you meet?
- How long were you dating before you decided to get married?
- Have you both met each other's families, and if so when and can you describe the experience?
- When did you get married and what was the venue like?
- Do you have a joint bank account? Why or why not?
These questions are fairly basic, but also couples should be prepared to answer other more immediate questions that require quick thinking and less of a narrative approach, such as:
- What did you do last night?
- Do you live in an apartment or a home? Which door do you enter?
- What subway does your spouse take to work in the morning?
- What did you have for dinner last night?
In other instances, such as in Denver, Colorado, it is not uncommon for an immigration officer to show up to ones house or apartment and ask to “look around”. Officers, if given the right to be able to enter, can check the apartment for “red flags” that they have been trained to seek out—such as children. Children might signify to an officer that the attempt to get a green card is simply a reason to keep their children in the United States, but not necessarily on the basis of a genuine marriage but more of a contract. Although many couples want to raise their kids in the U.S., the USCIS can find reasons to deny green card access if they believe that marriage is simply on behalf of children. Kids can sometimes make or break one's case in this respect.
Staying calm during an interview
Another aspect of the marriage green card interview to be especially aware of is the fact that officers tend to judge applicants harshly on their financial success or lack thereof. Receiving a green card means that one is eligible to work as a lawful permanent resident in the United States, and officers want to make sure that applicants are going to pay their taxes—an important civic duty especially when it comes to immigration. In light of this, officers can be skeptical of applicants who do not have a “good” work history or seem to be floating by waiting to receive benefits in lieu of a green card.
Making a strong case for one's academic background, degrees received, or the willingness or professional interests one has in the city or location they are residing are beneficial ways to ace your green card interview. It’s also a way during the interview to stay focused and calm; objective.
But one of the problems that invite skepticism from an officer's point of view is when couples seem to get nervous and talk about their careers in ways they haven’t up until this point that might even catch their partner off guard during the interview. The same goes for showing officer photographs of times couples spent together. As showing photographs is not required unless asked explicitly to do so, an officer can easily think that this is not normal, that the couple is hiding something, or simply that they are “overcompensating”.
While easier said than done, the best thing a couple can do is to stay calm during the interview and try not to overcompensate. Spending time with a couple for a few weeks, an officer might be able to tell that marriage is clearly real, unique, and genuine, but when couples get nervous and tend to overcompensate during an interview, it’s a red flag warning to the interviewing officer and might be grounds for denying a case. These are definitely some things to be aware of, and just like a job interview, one of the best pieces of advice for a couple is to simply get a good night's sleep before the interview, show up prepared, and don’t psych oneself out when asked tricky questions.