USCIS Interview Expectations: Marriage-Based Visa & Green Card

I recently helped a client in Indianapolis with a green card application for her husband, who is from Afghanistan.  As part of the green card process, I prepared the couple to be interviewed by an immigration officer.  I’d like to share some information about the interview process.

Normally, when a person requests a visa or green card based on their marriage to a U.S. Citizen, a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer will interview the person and their spouse separately as part of the screening process.  The purpose of the interview is to make sure the marriage is real or “bona fide” rather than a fraudulent or “sham” marriage done to fool the government into issuing a visa or green card.

Some USCIS interviews are short, and others are long.  One factor that can affect the length of the interview can be the documents you send to the USCIS, along with the visa or green card application, showing evidence of a bona fide marriage.  For example, if you send a birth certificate to the USCIS along with your visa or green card application, showing that you and your spouse have a child together, and if there are no other problems, the USCIS interview will likely be short because having a child together is strong evidence of a bona fide marriage.

Another factor that can affect the length of the interview can be the person’s immigration history.  For example, if a person is in removal (deportation) proceedings, then marries a U.S. Citizen and files for a visa or green card based on their marriage, that person can expect to have a longer interview than  others.  This is because USCIS suspects fraud in such cases.   A person who is in removal proceedings must show that their marriage is legitimate by clear and convincing evidence.

In any case where the USCIS is concerned about marriage fraud, the USCIS officer will ask more questions in the interview process and try to catch any inconsistencies.  For example, the officer might interview the husband alone and ask him a series of questions about how and when he met his wife, details about how they came to be engaged, and details about the husband and wife’s interaction with each other’s extended families.  Then the interviewer would have the husband leave the room and call the wife in and ask her the same questions.  If the husband and wife give different answers to many of these questions, the officer may decide that it is a case of marriage fraud, and deny the request for the visa or green card.

It is recommended that visa and green card applicants use an attorney who understands how to prepare visa and green card applications, gather and submit documents to show a bona fide marriage, and who will work with the husband and wife to prepare them to answer the USCIS officer’s  questions.

If you are in need of an experienced immigration attorney to help you or your spouse obtain a visa or green card based on your marriage, please give me a call.

This post is designed for general information only, and does not constitute legal advice nor the formation of an attorney-client relationship.