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Preparing for Your I-751 Interview: Tips and Guidelines

Preparing for Your I-751 Interview: Tips and Guidelines

The I-751 interview is an important step in the path toward permanent residency. During the interview, immigration officials will primarily be assessing the validity of your marriage by asking various questions about your and your spouse's relationship.

This interview is a mandatory requirement for those looking to advance their immigration status to the next level. But immigration officials have the authority to waive the interview if they believe the marriage to be bona fide and there are no other immigration issues that may affect the case.

The importance of the I-751 interview can not be overstated. Hence, if you have received an interview notice, you should prepare for the meeting beforehand with experienced family immigration lawyers.

Understanding the Form I-751 Requirements and Purposes

As an immigrant to the United States, you must make sure you understand the purposes and requirements of Form I-751 and how it affects your status as a resident of the country. The form is a petition that asks the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to remove the conditions that have been placed on a resident's status.

A USCIS officer will review the form and will likely approve the removal of the conditions if the form convinces them that the marriage is indeed valid and was entered into in good faith and not to receive immigration benefits.

Form I-751 requirements include:

  • Eligibility: You must be a conditional permanent resident in possession of a two-year Green Card which was acquired after marriage to a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident;
  • Timing: You must fill out and file Form I-751 within 90 days before your conditional Green Card expires;
  • Proof of a Bona Fide Marriage: You must demonstrate that your marriage was entered into in good faith by providing proof, such as photos, joint bank account statements, lease or mortgage contracts, or bills. You must also provide affidavits containing statements from friends and family attesting to the validity of the marriage;
  • Removal of Conditions: You must demonstrate eligibility to have the conditions removed from your status, which may require that you submit additional documents;
  • Biometrics: You must get your fingerprints and photograph taken at a biometric appointment;
  • Interview: You may be called in for an interview with an immigration officer;
  • Language Capabilities: Unless you qualify for an exception, you must demonstrate that you can read, write, and speak basic English;
  • Fee: You must pay an application fee when you file Form I-751.

Once the above-listed requirements have been met, you can confidently petition the USCIS for the removal of the conditions from your immigration status. The process can take a while, so it is important to get everything right the first time to avoid unnecessary delays. An immigration lawyer can help with this.

How to Avoid the I-751 Interview for Conditional Residents

As mentioned, the I-751 interview is required by law, but USCIS officials have the discretion to waive the requirement. As an applicant, there are certain things you can do to raise the likelihood that your interview will be waived.

Preparing a Strong Form I-751 Petition

Your I-751 petition should be well-prepared and complete. It should allow for no doubt as to the validity of your marriage and should contain everything a USCIS officer needs to approve the removal of your conditions.

If there are any doubts or questions, the official will be more inclined to schedule you and your spouse for an interview. For this reason, seeking help from an immigration attorney is a good idea.

Presenting Convincing Evidence of a Genuine Marriage

The officials who review I-751 petitions base their decisions on evidence. To be approved, the form must be accompanied by strong proof of the marriage's validity. The more convincing evidence you provide, the more likely your petition will be approved and the more likely you will be waived out of the interview requirement.

Always remember that the burden of proving that the marriage is indeed bona fide lies with the couple. Without enough evidence, the official reviewing your petition will be forced to at least call you in for an interview.

Examples of Acceptable Evidence

Various types of supporting documents will help you demonstrate the validity of your marriage, including:

  • The birth certificates of your children born during your marriage;
  • Mortgage or lease contracts that show that you and your spouse are living together at the same residence;
  • Financial documents showing joint responsibility and ownership of assets and debts, including joint savings accounts, joint federal and state tax returns, property titles showing joint ownership, such as vehicle titles, joint loans, and joint insurance policies;
  • Affidavits from at least two people who know you and your spouse and knew both of you before the marriage took place;
  • A dozen or more photographs that show you and your spouse together in various contexts, such as during the wedding, while traveling, while at home, and while at special events with family or friends.

This list is in no way exhaustive. If you have any other documents or evidence that can prove your marriage is bona fide, you should consider submitting it. The more evidence you can produce that validates your marriage, the better.

How to Prepare for I-751 Interview: Best Tips


1. Research the USCIS Office Where You Will Have Your Interview

If you have received an interview notice, you may be feeling a little bit of stress. With some preparation beforehand, however, you can confidently attend your interview with some peace of mind.

First off, you should familiarize yourself with the location and directions of the place where the interview will be held. This will help you avoid being late or running into a surprise on interview day. You should also familiarize yourself with the available parking options.

Finally, do some research into any news or updates about the specific location you will be attending. This will help you stay on top of any developments that may affect you come interview day.

2. Understand the Timeline of the Process and When to Expect Your Interview Date

When seeking to get the conditions removed from your immigration status, you should be aware of the timeline of the process so you will be prepared for your interview, if requested, and other key developments.

Generally speaking, the entire I-751 process can take anywhere between 6 and 8 months. Since each case is different, it is impossible to be more specific than that. Additionally, if you are filing a waiver application, your process could last between 8 and 12 months.

Keep in mind that these time periods apply to applications that are complete and properly filled out. If there are mistakes in your application, you can expect the timeline to be longer. However, if you provide strong and abundant evidence that you are in a bona fide marriage, the processing time for your application may be shorter and may not require an interview.

3. Prepare Your Supporting Documentation for the Interview

If you do have to attend an interview, you will want to make sure that you have your supporting documents gathered and organized.

The documents you should gather include:

  • Copies of both sides of your Green Card and/or permanent resident card;
  • Copies of your children's Green Cards if applicable to your case;
  • Documents attesting to the validity of your marriage, such as financial and insurance records, mortgage and lease contracts, and other like documents;
  • If not filing jointly with your spouse, a divorce decree, spouse's death certificate, or other document explaining why you are not filing jointly;
  • Documentation relating to any criminal charges you may have been convicted of or are facing;
  • If filing late, an explanation as to why you missed the deadline;

Before leaving for your interview, double-check that you have all of your documentation or you will likely face significant future delays.

4. Know What to Expect During the Interview Process

Before you attend your interview, you should know that the interviewer will be asking a variety of somewhat invasive questions about your married life with your spouse. They will be similar to the Green Card interview questions and may make you uncomfortable if you aren't prepared for them.

Remember that the primary purpose of this interview and all of the other requirements that you must meet is to determine whether you and your spouse are circumventing immigration laws. For this reason, USCIS officers can sometimes seem invasive.

Some of the questions you should expect to face include:

  • How did you and your spouse meet?
  • What is the relationship like between you and your spouse's family?
  • How long was your courtship before getting married?
  • How do you and your spouse spend time together?

You should also expect to face questions regarding any red flags in your application, such as missing financial documents and separate residences. With well-thought-out answers, you have nothing to worry about during the interview, which for many feels like an overly personal interview.

5. Practice Answering Potential Questions for the Interview

i-751 interview questions

Practice makes perfect, and preparing for your I-751 interview beforehand will help you in convincing USCIS officers that your case is valid and that you deserve to have the conditions removed from your Green Card.

Although the interviewers are not trying to trip you up or trick you, it is important to know that your hesitation or confusion may cause an interviewer to think that your marriage may not be valid. So consider asking a friend or family member to practice a mock interview session with you so you can learn to answer questions confidently and correctly.

Take note of any issues and rough patches you encounter and address them before you have your interview.

6. Bring Copies of All Documents and Forms to the Meeting

Your petition to remove conditions from your marriage-based Green Card will only be successful if you have strong proper supporting documents. So make sure to have at least the following documents:

  • A copy of both sides of your Green Card;
  • Evidence that the marriage is bona fide, such as documents demonstrating joint financial obligations, residential documents, children's birth certificates, and affidavits from family and friends regarding the authenticity of your marriage;
  • If applying alone as a foreign spouse, have a death certificate, divorce decree, or evidence of domestic violence to explain why you are no longer with your ex-spouse;
  • Criminal record;
  • Certified translations of all documents written in a foreign language;
  • Copies of any documents specifically requested by the USCIS.

Always remember to make multiple copies of your documents and make sure to keep the originals in a safe place.

7. Dress Professionally for Your Interview and Make Sure to Arrive Early

Two important aspects of the interview process you have complete control over are how you dress and what time you arrive for your interview.

By simply dressing professionally, you immediately convey to the USCIS interviewer that you have respect for the process enough to take the time to put on professional attire. Additionally, you will feel more empowered and confident if you arrive in professional dress.

Regarding arrival time, nothing looks worse than arriving late for your scheduled time, except for not showing up at all. Hence, it is important to do whatever it takes to show up well before your interview is scheduled to take place.

Be Ready for Your I-751 Interview with Proper Preparation

The I-751 process is not simply a formality. However, you can prepare to a point where the officials reviewing your file decide to remove the conditions from your Green Card without obliging you to attend an interview.

If you must attend an interview, you can adequately prepare to help ensure that your petition is approved and you advance to the next level of permanent residency.

SimVisa is a Chicago-based immigration law firm with nationwide clients. Our 99% success rate means you can rely on us for your important immigration needs. Contact us today to get started.

SohYoon Atac
SohYoon Atac
co-founder of SimVisa

Sohyoon is the co-founder of SimVisa. She has over 15 years of immigration specific experience and as an immigrant herself, fully understands the daunting nature of navigating the immigration process.

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