A Green Card interview is perhaps the most important step in the journey to becoming a permanent resident. After the interview takes place, the government will shortly come to a decision on whether you will be granted permanent residency. Hence, it is of utmost importance that you prepare for the interview before you arrive.
This guide will help you understand what is involved in a Green Card interview and how to prepare for one, so you can feel confident and succeed on your interview date.
What Is the Green Card Interview Process?
An interview for Green Card gives the U.S. government a chance to meet the Green Card applicant face to face and verify that the applicant's file is complete and that they are eligible to receive permanent residency. Typically, the interview is the final step in the long process of gathering documents and evidence and filling out forms.
Once you have filed an application for a Green Card, you can expect to be called for an interview within seven and 15 months from your filing date. This gives you, as an applicant, ample time to get ready for the interview.
Also helpful to the entire process is ensuring that your initial application is properly prepared before you send it in. SimVisa can help with this.
Who Needs to Attend a Green Card Interview?
The type of Green Card you are filing for determines who must be present at the Green Card interview. In all cases, the person named on the interview appointment must show up for the interview. But whether others must also be present varies based on the situation.
If you are applying for a marriage-based Green Card, the interviewer at your appointment will typically want both the applicant and the resident or citizen spouse to attend in order to properly verify that the marriage is legitimate and valid.
If a U.S. resident is seeking to obtain a Green Card for family members located outside of the U.S., the U.S. resident usually is not required to attend the out-of-country, family-based Green Card interview.
In the case of a Green Card for employment purposes, the only person that needs to attend the interview is the employee seeking permanent residency status.
In some cases, an individual applying for a Green Card does not need to attend an interview, such as in the case of certain asylees.
Who Can You Bring to Your Green Card Interview?
You can expect to be able to bring the following support:
Are Interpreters Allowed?
Interpreters are allowed during the interview for Green Card approval for Green Card applicants who do not speak English.
However, during the interview, the interpreter must only interpret what the interviewer is asking of the applicant and may not add or subtract words while doing so. Additionally, the interpreter must not comment on what the interviewer is saying or give any opinion or advice.
In some cases, an interpreter is not necessary because the USCIS officer speaks the language of the interviewee.
Are Lawyers Allowed?
Yes. You are permitted to have an immigration attorney present with you during your Green Card interview. In fact, if you have any issues that might negatively affect your case, such as criminal or immigration issues, it is a good idea to have an attorney present.
They can be helpful when it comes time to explain these issues to the interviewing officer. Having a lawyer present may be helpful with common immigration interview questions as well.
Are Friends and Family Allowed If They Are Not Part of the Application Process?
Generally, friends and family are not allowed in Green Card interviews unless they are part of the application process. However, if you have a disability, it is possible for you to have a friend or a legal guardian with you. That said, you should contact the interview location beforehand to verify that you may have someone present.
Are Spouses Allowed During the Interview?
If your Green Card application process is marriage-based, your spouse must attend the interview with you. When you arrive, both of you will be interviewed but not necessarily together.
In some cases, one interviewer will ask you questions together and at the same time. In other cases, however, the interviewer may decide to interview you separately and may even bring in a second interviewer to assist.
After interviewing both spouses, the interviewer will then compare the answers for consistencies and conflicts. If there are any inconsistencies in the answers, the USCIS will likely schedule a second interview, which is typically conducted by an officer from the Department of Homeland Security's Fraud Detection and National Security Unit.
The goal of this second interview is to resolve the discrepancies between the spouse's statements. In many cases, inconsistencies are minor and not material. However, some inconsistencies are so great that they lead to the denial of a Green Card, even when the marriage is legitimate.
For more information on these follow-up interviews, you can explore the National Visa Center's interview guidelines for interviews occurring outside of the United States and the USCIS interview guidelines for follow-up interviews that take place within the States.
What Documents Should You Bring to Your Green Card Interview?
At your immigrant visa interview to become a lawful permanent resident, you must bring certain documents with you for the interviewer to review. Which documents you must bring depends on whether you are interviewing inside the United States or in a foreign country.
Additionally, there are other documents that are not necessarily required but may prove helpful in the processing of your visa application. Failing to bring the required documents to your Green Card interview will result in processing delays.
Adjustment of Status Applications from Inside the U.S.
If you are going through the application process from within the U.S., you are required to bring the following documents with you to your interview for Green Card:
- An I.D. that has been issued by the government, such as a driver's license;
- A copy of the interview appointment notice;
- A copy of your application packet for adjustment of status, which should include your Form I-485 along with any other forms you have submitted, such as Forms I-130, I-130A, I-864, I131, I765, and I-944;
- Your passport, if you are not seeking asylum or applying for refugee status;
- Any other important travel documents, such as advanced parole;
- Copies of all of the supporting documents you provided when you first applied, such as your birth certificate, marriage certificate, divorce documents and decrees, certificates of death, and other supporting documents;
- A completed Form I-693 with a copy of the report issued by the doctor for your medical examination;
- An employer letter covering the details of your employment, if your application is for an employment-based Green Card — the letter should be on official company letterhead and should demonstrate continual employment as well as salary.
You'll also want to bring copies of any documents proving you are married, such as your children's birth certificates, your marriage certificate, joint bank account statements, and other documents.
Consular Processing from Outside of the U.S.
If you are not located within the U.S. when applying for your Green Card, you will need to bring the following documents with you to your interview:
- Government-issued I.D., such as a driver's license, I.D. card, or a passport;
- A copy of your interview appointment notice;
- Your entire application packet, including Form DS-260 and any other immigration forms you have submitted, such as Forms I-130, I-130A, I-864, DS-261, and DS-5540;
- Your current passport, if you are not seeking asylum or refugee status;
- Advance parole documents and other paperwork related to travel;
- Copies of various documents submitted with your Green Card application, such as birth and marriage certificates, death certificates, divorce decrees, and other supporting documents;
- A doctor's report from your medical examination and Form I-693;
- An employment letter on company letterhead detailing that you will have continuous employment during the time of your Green Card and the amount of your salary;
- Copies of documents and paperwork that attest to your marriage if you are applying for a marriage Green card, such as the birth certificates of your children, joint lease and mortgage statements, joint bank account and credit card statements, and other like documents.
Keep in mind that if you are missing any of these required documents, your application will be delayed or possibly denied.
What Else Should You Bring?
Once you have all of the necessary documents gathered and ready, you will also want to consider bringing some supporting documents with you. Supporting documents will be helpful when the interviewer asks you about life changes that have occurred since your application, such as the birth of a child, changes of address, and employment changes.
For example, if you have moved to a new address after filing your Green Card application, you will want to bring a document that shows your current address, such as a utility bill. Or if you have a new employer, a letter on letterhead or pay stubs are proof enough that you work at this new job.
If you have had any encounters with law enforcement after filing your application, you will want to speak with a lawyer before your interview. They will help you understand the ramifications of criminal records on the Green Card process.
How to Prepare for a Green Card Interview
The Green Card status interview is a high-stakes process that will affect your future. Hence, it is essential that you arrive well-prepared for what is to transpire, which will depend on the type of Green Card you are applying for.
For example, individuals applying for employment-based Green Cards will have a different interview than those seeking family-based Green Cards or Green Cards based on marriage.
Although the whole process can seem daunting no matter which type of Green Card you are seeking, with a few tips and some preparation, you will have all you need to do well at your interview for Green Card.
Before arriving, double-check to ensure that you have assembled all of the relevant documents, paperwork, and other forms you need for your case. Additionally, you should bring supplementary evidence, such as phone records and photos attesting to the validity of a marriage or familial connection.
For couples looking for a marriage Green Card, preparation together is key before the Green Card marriage interview. Expect the USCIS officer to ask you historical and personal questions about your relationship, such as when you had your first date and when each person met the other spouse's family. Going through a mock interview might be helpful.
During the interview, always speak honestly and courteously. Do not speak half-truths, and do not attempt to avoid or skirt the interviewer's questions, even if they ask very personal questions. Immigration officials are experts at detecting misrepresentations and deceit.
Potential Green Card Interview Questions
Knowing potential interview questions for Green Cards can help prepare you for your Green Card interview and give you a bit of confidence during an interview for Green Card.
Greetings and Oath
- How are you doing today?
- How is the weather out there today?
- What are your expectations of this immigration interview?
- How is the United States of America?
- Do you understand why you are being interviewed?
- Are you aware that you must take an oath of disclosure regarding this interview?
- Do you speak or understand English?
- Do you have an interpreter?
- Do you understand the words in the oath and what taking the oath means?
- Do you swear to tell the truth?
- What is your full legal name?
- What are the full legal names of your mother and father?
- What is your date of birth?
- Where are you from?
- What is your place of birth?
- Where are you living now?
- What is your phone number?
- How would you describe your physical appearance?
- What is your height?
- What is your weight?
- What color are your eyes?
- What color is your hair?
- Do you have any identifying birthmarks or features?
- Have you had any surgery to alter your appearance?
- What is your spouse's name?
- When did your wedding take place?
- What was the location of your wedding?
- Where did you and your spouse first meet?
- Where did you and your spouse have your first date?
- Who proposed?
- When did the proposal take place?
- Who were the bridesmaids and groomsmen?
- Did you have a themed wedding?
- Where was your honeymoon?
- Who is your spouse's employer?
- What time do you both get home from work?
- What is your spouse's birthday?
- Do you have pets?
- What is your anniversary date?
- Do you have any children?
- How stable are your marriage and relationship?
- Where were you born?
- What citizenship do you hold?
- What is your legal status in the U.S.?
- When did you enter the U.S.?
- How did you arrive?
- Have you worked in the U.S.?
- Do you have work authorization?
- Have you ever violated a visa condition?
- What is your current home address?
- How long have you resided at this address?
- Where did you live before moving to your current address?
- How many times have you changed residences in the past five years?
- Did you change residences after submitting your application for a Green Card?
- What places have you lived since you were 16 years old?
- Where did you receive your education?
- Where is your job located?
- Do you file and pay income taxes?
- Do you have IRS tax documents?
- Do you owe any taxes?
- Have you ever failed to file taxes?
- Have you ever served in the military or as a police officer?
- Have you ever been part of a conflict?
- Were you in the U.S. military?
- Which branch did you serve in?
- What work did you do in the military?
- When did you serve?
Tips for a Successful Green Card Interview
- Review Your Docs: Reviewing your documents before the interview for Green Card approval will refresh your memory and ensure that you give the right answers to the many questions posed by your interviewer;
- Wear Appropriate Clothing: Dress conservatively for your interview and avoid any revealing clothing and clothing with slogans or statements that may negatively influence the outcome of your meeting. This professionalism is important when choosing what to wear;
- Arrive Early: Set yourself up for success by arriving early. Rushing to get to your appointment on time can lead to a subpar performance when answering Green Card interview questions. And arriving late can be a sign of disrespect or indifference;
- Remain Calm: The interview is not an interrogation. So you should try to keep calm during the meeting. The calmer you are, the better able you will be to answer the interview questions for Green Cards.
What Happens After a Green Card Interview?
You can expect the following after your interview:
In the best of cases, the U.S. government will approve your application for a Green card. The official may even inform you at the conclusion of the meeting that you have been approved. If so, expect to receive your Green Card within two to three weeks in the mail.
The government may decide that you need a second interview to verify certain information in your application, such as information regarding your family, spouse, or employer. If so, you can expect to receive a new appointment from the government by mail.
Request for Evidence
If, after hearing your answer to the interview questions for Green Card, the government needs more information from you, it may not require you to attend a second interview.
Instead, you may receive a request for evidence (RFE) by mail. In the RFE you receive, you will find a list of things that you must submit in order for the government to make a determination on your case.
Make sure to submit every piece of the requested evidence by the due date listed in the RFE, or your application will likely be denied.
Request for Review
A request for review occurs when the government requires more time to review your application before making its final decision. If this occurs in your case, the government will keep you notified of any steps you must take and will make its decision within a few weeks.
The government may deny your application due to many reasons, such as providing untruthful answers to Green Card interview questions or ineligibility. If this occurs, you can appeal the denial but should meet with an attorney before filing an appeal.
Green Card Interview: The Bottom Line
There's a lot on the line in your Green Card interview. However, with the right planning and preparation, you can confidently weather the interview and ace the Green Card interview questions.
SimVisa is a Chicago-based law firm that helps individuals throughout the country. We have a 99.9% success rate, so you can rely on our team of immigration lawyers to prepare you for whatever comes up in your Green Card interview.
Thousands have put their trust in SimVisa, and so can you. Contact us for a consultation today.