Foreign nationals who marry U.S. citizens have the opportunity to receive permanent resident status in the U.S., or a “green card,” a critical step to full U.S. citizenship.
This process is referred to by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as an "adjustment of status" and includes interviews with both spouses to determine the validity of the marriage.
Preparing for the marriage-based green card interview can feel overwhelming. Consider these tips from an immigration attorney on how to prepare for the interview, what questions to expect, and how to calmly answer even the trickiest queries.
What Is the Marriage Green Card Interview Process?
Your marriage-based green card interview can take place either in the U.S. at a USCIS office or abroad, at a U.S. Consulate. The purpose is to ascertain that you are in an authentic marriage, so the green card marriage interview questions will be the same no matter where the interview takes place.
What Kind of Questions Will I Be Asked in the Interview?
You can expect the interview questions to cover every aspect of your relationship, from how you met to who was at your wedding and even what kind of toothpaste your spouse uses. You’ll also provide your own evidence and proof that you are legally and legitimately married, like photos and a marriage license.
The USCIS officer will pay attention to the details in your and your spouse’s answers, comparing them to see if they match.
You may also be asked about goals you set as a couple, like buying a house, having children, or even where you’d like to retire. These kinds of questions about the future of your relationship are intended to make sure that you both are committed to a long-term marriage and not simply getting married for the benefit of a green card.
Will We Be Interviewed Together or Separately?
It’s likely that you both will initially be interviewed together and then separated for more detailed questions. Interviewing a couple together allows the USCIS officer to observe body language, while separate interviews ensure consistency in your respective answers.
How to Best Prepare for Your Marriage Green Card Interview
You and your partner may be wondering how to prepare for marriage green card interview questions.
Explore the Interview Questions
The USCIS officer will ask questions based on your application and other documents you provide and may ask for explanations of the facts stated or general questions about your daily life.
Memorizing your answers to the questions on the application can help you provide a firm and clear answers and ensure that you and your spouse are answering the same way.
Rehearse Interviewing with Your Partner
Practice with your spouse before the formal marriage-based green card interview. Ask each other questions about your lives and how you met or some of the details about each other’s families.
This can help you recall things you forgot and help you be more relaxed in the interview; stress can easily make anyone forget facts they know by heart.
Fill Out Forms and Prepare Papers
The USCIS requires many documents to support your marriage green card application. Ensure you have everything you need, including:
- Birth certificates;
- Passport-style photos;
- Affidavit of Support for the immigrant spouse;
- Joint bank account statements;
- Lease or mortgage agreement.
Any other evidence of living together can help. Organize supporting documents into a binder where you can quickly locate what you need.
Sample Marriage-Based Green Card Interview Questions
Green card marriage interview questions are thorough and detailed. Knowing what to expect can help you both work together to prepare and ensure that your answers are consistent.
- Where did you go on your first date?
- When did you meet each other's parents?
- How did you meet?
- How did the relationship turn romantic?
- When did you meet each other’s families?
- Who attended your wedding?
- What did you serve for the wedding meal?
- Did your parents attend the wedding? Did other family members?
- What song did you dance to for your first dance?
- Did you have special rituals involved from either of your cultures?
- What kind of special details or rituals did you do?
- Where do your kids go to school? How do they get there each day?
- Who is your child’s favorite teacher?
- What kinds of sports or school activities do your kids do?
Routine Details of Your Daily Life
- What is your daily routine like for you and your spouse?
- When does your spouse get home from work each day?
- Who is responsible for which household chores?
- How often do you text or talk throughout the day?
Personal Habits and Preferences
- Which side of the bed do you each sleep on?
- Does your spouse take any kind of medications or supplements? What kinds?
- Does your spouse shower in the morning or the evening?
- Does your spouse go to the gym?
- Does your spouse drink coffee?
- Does your spouse have any allergies?
Family Traditions and Big Events
- How did you celebrate birthdays last year?
- What kind of religious holidays do you celebrate?
- How do you honor important days in your spouse’s culture?
- Do you celebrate holidays with family? If so, with whom and where?
5 Tips for a Successful Marriage Green Card Interview
Practicing your answers for green card marriage interview questions is important, but there are other ways you can prepare, too.
1. Speak Openly
Be open and honest about your lives; the answers to your questions will be kept private. Your interview is how you present your lives as a legitimate couple.
2. Don’t Try to Memorize Everything
You can practice your interview answers, but you won’t be expected to have your spouse’s entire life or daily habits memorized. Even people who have been married for many years can find these personal questions stressful.
3. Act Normally
Act normally — some couples are naturally more affectionate than others. If it’s your habit to hold hands, for example, you may do so but don’t feel the need to be overly touchy with one another. Inauthenticity in your body language can be a red flag.
4. Don’t Panic
It’s normal to be nervous, but try not to panic if you are separated from your spouse or asked a question you didn’t prepare for. Don’t be afraid to ask for a moment to collect your thoughts.
5. Enjoy the Process
Instead of viewing the green card marriage interview process as an important test to pass, consider the preparation as a chance for you and your spouse to get to know each other better.
Other ways to do your best include:
- Be about 30 minutes early for the interview;
- Dress professionally;
- Organize all your documents beforehand.
These tips can help you succeed in your interview.
4 Scenarios After Marriage Green Card Interviews
If the USCIS interviewer is impressed with the legitimacy of your answers, your marriage green card application is approved on the spot. This means the immigration officer is satisfied with your supporting documents and your green card marriage interview answers.
Request for Evidence
A Request for Evidence is issued if the USCIS officer believes that your answers weren’t specific enough and that the USCIS needs additional time to process your application. The letter lists the types of evidence needed to process the application.
If the interviewer believes that you provided everything you could, but isn’t satisfied that you produced enough documentation for your case, then your case could be under additional review, and you will have to wait for a decision.
Stokes or Marriage Fraud Interview
If the USCIS interviewer is suspicious about the documentation for your marriage green card application or the answers you and your spouse gave in your interviews, then you may be asked to return to the facility for a second interview. Factors that can trigger a second interview follow-up request include:
- Vague answers;
- Uncertainty when answering questions;
- Answers that don’t match;
- Unable to answer questions.
Or perhaps your initial application for a marriage-based green card triggered suspicion. If you were vague in the application or left certain sections blank or incomplete, your application will lack vital information indicating you're in a credible marriage.
The second interview, also known as a marriage fraud or Stokes interview, will consist of separate interviews for each spouse. You’ll be in separate rooms and asked the same series of questions. Then, your respective answers will be compared to see if they match.
If each of you has notably different answers to the same set of questions, your application for a spousal green card will likely be denied. There is room for a little bit of difference, but questions about basics like your wedding date or how you met should be answered the same.
Stokes Interview Questions
The best way to make it through the process is to focus on the facts and remain calm during the interview. You and your spouse can expect to be questioned separately, although you will be asked the same questions, like the following:
- What type of vehicle does each of you drive?
- What side of the bed do you each sleep on?
- How many brothers does your spouse have?
- Do you own pets? What kind?
- How is your living room set up? How is your bedroom furniture arranged?
- What are your spouse’s favorite and least favorite foods?
- When is your spouse's birthday?
- Who is in charge of finances and paying bills?
- How many televisions are in your house?
- What kind of cell phone carrier does your spouse have?
- Who gets up first in the morning?
- Which of you cooks more often?
- What kinds of activities do you like to do together?
- What are some brands of personal care items your spouse uses?
This isn’t an exhaustive list of questions asked in a Stokes interview. The point is to establish that you two live together and know intimate and personal details about each other.
Get Your Marriage Green Card with SimVisa
Do you need help preparing for your marriage-based green card interview? Has your spousal green card application been denied, and you’re facing a Stokes interview?
The immigration attorneys of Simvisa can provide advice about immigration law and guide you through the application process, including filing the application, gathering the documents you need to prove a valid marriage, and preparing for a green card interview. Contact us today to speak with a skilled marriage green card lawyer.