USCIS generally schedules personal interviews only for those applying for a Green Card (adjustment of status or removal of conditions) or U.S. citizenship.
The immigration interview questions differ depending on what is the basis for the Green Card application. As a general rule, the questions asked during the immigration interview pertain to the underlying immigrant (approved or pending) immigrant Visa petition.
For example, in an employment-based adjustment of status interview, the immigration officer will likely ask questions about the current employment, past work experience, etc.
The immigration interview questions that are more intimidating are those asked during Green Card applications based on marriage to a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident. It is estimated that at least 1 out of 7 marriages between U.S. citizens and foreign nationals are fradulent. In other words, they are sham marriages, contracted for the sole purpose of obtaining immigration benefits. This is why Immigration officers are always very suspicious about marriage-based Green Card applications.
While the questions asked by an immigration officer could be intimidating, it is important to understand that no special preparation is necessary. The interview will most likely have a favorable outcome if the spouses live together in marital union.
In any event, this is a short list of the most common immigration interview questions asked by USCIS officers adjudicating Green Card applications based on marriage:
- How did you meet, and when?
- When did you start dating?
- When did he proposed you to get married?
- Did you meet each other’s parents? When?
- Did you meet each other’s relatives?
- How long have you lived together?
- What is your spouse’s date of birth?
- Where was your spouse born?
- What is your spouse’s cellphone number?
- Who is your spouse’s best friend?
- Where does your spouse work? What is his/her work schedule?
- What do you generally do on Sundays?
- How many TVs you have at home?
- What is your spouse’s favorite TV show?
- Where did you last go on vacation together?
- Did any of your family members or friends attend your wedding ceremony?
- Did you have a wedding reception? Where?
- How did you come here (USCIS office) today? Did you travel together? Did you have breakfast/lunch together?
- Are you planning to have children?
What is considered Marriage Fraud?
You probably already know that marriage fraud is illegal both from an immigration and a criminal standpoint. Entering into a sham marriage (or “Green Card marriage”) can lead to criminal charges and permanent ineligibility to obtain immigration benefits.
Marriage fraud means contracting a fake marriage to obtain U.S. lawful permanent residence, also known as a green card. This kind of marriage is entered with the sole purpose of circumventing U.S. immigration laws.
Detecting fraudulent marriages is a priority for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). According to a 1980 survey, approximately 30 % of marriages between a U.S. citizen and a foreign national were fraudulent.
For a marriage to be considered real, the couple must establish a life together and must prove the intentions of establishing a life together after marriage
How can a couple prove they entered into a real marriage?
These are a few examples:
- Sharing the same religion and/or language;
- Taking vacations together;
- Celebrating important events together;
- Having sex;
- Have babies together;
- Commingle accounts and financial resources;
- Share a residence and a lease agreement;
- Meet each other relatives.
A two-year trial period is required for couples who have been married less than two years at the time the green card application is approved. If suspects arise during the two-year period, the USCIS may:
- Visit your home;
- Talk to your friends and relatives;
- Interview your employers;
- Schedule a new interview when you file Form I-751 to remove conditions on your permanent residency.
What happens if authorities have doubts about whether your marriage is a real one?
A fraud interview will be scheduled at a local field office. You will be subject to extensive questioning. Before the interview, you should consult with an immigration attorney.
What you should know about a fraud interview (also called Stokes interview)
A “Stokes” immigration interview is conducted when USCIS suspects that the marriage is fraudulent. Stokes v. INS, No. 74 Civ. 1022 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 10, 1976) was a famous District Court decision addressing the protocols to be taken by USCIS officer during such interviews.
- These interviews take place in the United States. However, if your spouse is overseas, you will attend the interview alone;
- The immigration officer will put you and your spouse in two different rooms, and ask you identical questions;
- Later, the officers will compare the answers to see if they match.
The role of an immigration lawyer during a Green Card interview
Most people attend the immigration interview alone. However, you can have your immigration attorney present at the interview. Your attorney will not be able to answer questions on your behalf. However, he or she will be able to object to any inappropriate questions or to a particularly hostile attitude of the immigration officer(s).