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Green Card Marriage Interviews

There are several settings in which a U.S. Citizen (USC) can help their foreign national spouse legalize their status. However, this is not an easy process. The United Sates Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) can either adjudicate and approve the application or schedule the couple for an interview in an effort to verify the bona fides of their marriage. This process is entirely random. You should not be alarmed if in fact you are scheduled for an interview.

What is the marriage interview?

If you are scheduled for an interview with the USCIS you should be prepared to demonstrate the bona fides or validity of your marriage. The immigration officer will question you and review the evidence you have provided in order to determine whether or not you actually married for love or simply to obtain an immigration benefit. If you lack sufficient evidence or do not know important personal information about your spouse, USCIS will either deny your petition or reschedule you for a second interview. Typically, USCIS does not make a decision at the interview. Rather, USCIS will send you a decision by mail. The marriage interview is a crucial component of obtaining lawful permanent resident status in the U.S. Indeed, failure to adequately prepare for it can delay the application process or even see the request for lawful permanent resident status denied.

What should you expect at the marriage interview?

At the interview, you are expected to know personal information about your spouse. You will also be required to demonstrate that you have commingled your lives. You will also be expected to provide a great deal of documentation to prove you are living in marital union. For instance, you and your spouse should be prepared to provide:

  • Bank statements for accounts held in both spouses’ names;
  • Life insurance policies listing the spouse as the beneficiary;
  • Birth certificates for marital children listing both spouses as the birth parents;
  • Certification of pregnancy from a family doctor;
  • Signed, sworn statements from friends and/or family that have been a part of the development of your marital relationship;
  • Lease or mortgage agreements in both spouses’ names; and
  • Utility bills in both spouses’ names.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of documents. However, they are very helpful in demonstrating the validity of your marriage. If you have these or other related documents, you should plan on bringing them to your interview.

If this is your second interview, the interviewing officer will first introduce himself or herself, explain the purpose of the interview, and then separate you and your spouse for questioning. At this interview, the USCIS is basically questioning your marriage and will now ask you both many intimate details about your personal life with your spouse. This type of interview takes significantly longer and is more detailed than the initial interview. It is known as a Stokes interview. At the conclusion of the interview you and your spouse will be given the opportunity to explain any discrepancies in the answers given by both parties. The Stokes interviews are frequently taped by USCIS. Similar to the initial interview, USCIS will likely not make a decision at the interview. Instead, they will mail you a decision.

How can you make the marriage interview process easier?

The following tips can help put you at ease as you get closer to your interview:

  • Be at least 30 minutes early – it will give you time to relax and you don’t have to enter the interview rushed;
  • Do not worry about memorization – this is not a test, and there are no facts or figures to memorize; and
  • Organize all of your documents ahead of time – use a pocket folder and tabs to make the documents more accessible so that you don’t get flustered at the interview;

Legalizing your status is a delicate and serious legal matter. If your marriage includes a partner that is a foreign national and you are interested in applying for legal status for them, it is important that you consult with an experienced immigration attorney to help you understand the process involved. The attorney can ensure that you have filled out the appropriate documents and can help you understand the marriage interview process more fully. Additionally, an immigration attorney can help verify the accuracy and completeness of the many documents you will need to submit throughout the citizenship process, including the marriage interview.

Contact Pollack, Pollack, Isaac & DeCicco, LLP today for more information on how you can start the citizenship process for you or your partner, and to learn more about what the process entails as well as what it will require from you. A marriage is too important not to take advantage of an attorney’s guidance throughout this process, especially because any mistakes you make can cost a great deal of extra money and time as well as endanger your foreign national spouse’s prospective citizenship.

 

Immigration News from ILW.COM
FAQs
  • Q: My employer wants to sponsor me to get a green card – can they?

    If you entered the United States without visa and are working here without legal documentation, your employer may be able to help you. But it’s important to understand that just because your employer wants to help doesn’t mean you will be able to obtain a green card. The process for obtaining a green card is complicated and depends on many factors, including your prior history (and your family’s prior history) in the United States. So it’s good that your employer wants to help but the first step is to call us for an interview so we can understand more about your situation.

  • Q: How can I get a work permit?

    A work permit is a common way of referring to an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which is issued by the Immigration Service (which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security). Under U.S. law, you need a work permit or EAD in order to become a legal employee of a U.S. company. Many lawyers will promise to get you a work permit. But you have to be careful about this. The catch is that you can’t simply apply for a work permit or EAD in itself. In order to apply for a work permit you have to make an application for legal status in this country on some other basis. So don’t believe any other lawyer or person who tells you it’s an easy thing to get a work permit. Call us for an interview and we can explain to you how the process and the immigration laws in the United States really work.

  • Q:  Can I apply for deferred action now?

    As a result of the injunction issued by the District Court in Texas, applications for the expanded DACA program and DAPA are currently on hold. The Department of Homeland Security is not currently accepting requests for the expansion of DACA, as originally planned. Until further notice, it has suspended the plan to accept requests for DAPA.

  • Q: Does the new executive order or court injunction change Deferred Action protection under existing DACA?

    The Court’s order does not affect the existing DACA. Individuals may continue to come forward and request initial grant of DACA or renewal of DACA pursuant to the guidelines established in 2012. This ruling only delays the start of DAPA and the expansion of DACA.

  • Q:  Who can I contact for more help or information?

    It’s important that you speak with a qualified attorney who can explain all the options and issues relating to your immigration status.  Do not take advice about your immigration case from a notary public or an immigration consultant.  The U.S. immigration laws and rules are very complicated and many people take advantage of undocumented immigrants, making promises and charging money without providing honest advice.  Contact only a qualified immigration lawyer for legal advice about your case. If you encounter 'notarios' who offer legal advice without a license, report it.

  • Q; What should I do now?

    You can begin preparing now! Even though DHS is not currently accepting applications under DAPA or the expanded DACA programs, individuals who are potentially eligible for Deferred Action status should begin preparing their applications now. It is very likely that the Texas decision will be overturned and there will probably be a rush of applicants when that happens. Individuals should be ready with their applications and start now by gathering the necessary documentation and seeking good counsel to give themselves the best chance for success and to avoid potential problems.

  • Q: I haven’t seen my mother since I came to the U.S. 10 years ago. Can I apply for a visa so she can join me here?

    If you are a U.S. citizen or have a Green Card, then yes, you can apply for a visa for your family members. But the process can take a long of time, depending on your own status. If you’re a U.S. citizen, it might take 8 months to a year to process the application. The waiting time will be much longer if you’re a Green Card holder. Generally, the sooner you start the process the better. So contact one of our attorneys today to get started. Or click here is you want to learn more about the different types of visas that are available for family members.

  • Q: My grandma is sick back home – can I go visit her?

    Whether you can travel abroad depends on your immigration status. If you have been granted DACA or if you have a Green Card in hand – you still must ask for advanced permission in order to leave the country. This is called advanced parole. Obtaining advance parole is relatively inexpensive. But it is not without risk, because there is really no way to guarantee that you will be able to return. Your return is ultimately within the discretion of the authorities at the point of your reentry to the U.S.

  • Q: Can our company sponsor an employee to get a green card?

    If one of your employees entered the United States without visa and is working here without legal documentation, you may be able to help this person obtain legal immigration status. This doesn’t necessarily mean they will be able to obtain a green card. The process for obtaining a green card is complicated and depends on many factors, including a person’s prior history (and their family’s prior history) in the United States. It’s definitely helpful to their case if you, as their employer, are willing to help, but the first step is to have the employee call us for an interview so we can understand more about their situation.   Or click here to read more information about green cards.

  • Q: What is a work permit?

    A work permit is a common way of referring to an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which is issued by the Immigration Service (which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security). Under U.S. law, an employee needs a work permit or EAD in order to become a legal employee of a U.S. company. Many lawyers will promise to get undocumented immigrants work permit. But you have to be careful about this. The catch is that you can’t simply apply for a work permit or EAD in itself. In order to apply for a work permit a person must make an application for legal status in this country on some other basis. So don’t let your employees get gulled into believing that it’s easy to get a work permit by some lawyer or hustler on the street corner. Call us for an interview and so we can explain to your employees how the process and the immigration laws in the United States really work.

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