Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How To Prepare For A Green Card Interview

If you apply for a green card as the spouse or fiancé of a U.S. citizen or green card holder, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will require you to attend a green card interview to assess the validity of your marriage.

If you and your spouse show up to the interview prepared—and especially if you practiced—you will likely walk out of the USCIS office with a green card stamped in your passport. If not, however, you may face excessive delay, as the USCIS waits for and processes documents you should have brought with you the first time. You may also face the possibility of a second, more rigorous fraud interview.

Get your documentation together
Do not leave any paperwork behind! The USCIS views this interview as a chance to ensure that you did not get married solely for the purpose of obtaining a green card. So, in addition to the usual identification and immigration paperwork, you should bring any documents that provide evidence that your marriage is legitimate. These should include the following:

· The passport, visa, entry record, and birth certificate of the foreign spouse (with certified translation, if not in English)
· The passport and birth certificate (translated, if necessary) of the U.S. citizen or green card holder.
· Your marriage certificate, including records of any prior marriages and divorces
· Birth certificates of any minor children, regardless of whether they are from your current marriage or a previous relationship
· Anything that shows that you married for reasons other than obtaining a U.S. green card, including: photographs of the happy couple, records of joint accounts and joint ownership, joint utility and other bills, wedding photographs/invitations/guestbooks, or any other records that show the legitimacy of your marriage

Prepare for questions about your relationship and each other
As part of its goal of ensuring it only issues marriage-based green cards to spouses in legitimate relationships, USCIS officers conducting green card interviews ask many detailed, personal questions. Even though you married for love, you and your spouse may remember certain important events in your relationship differently. Take some time before the interview to review your story, so you know the following:

· Where and when your spouse or fiancé was born
· Where and when you first met
· Who proposed to whom, and under what circumstances
· How many people attended the wedding
· When and where the wedding was held

Furthermore, many officers ask for small details about day-to-day matters, which both of you should be able to answer accurately, such as the following:

· What brand toothpaste do you use?
· Does your spouse have any birthmarks?
· Who usually does the dishes or takes out the trash?
· Who pays the bills?
· Who shops for groceries?
· What time do you usually go to bed and get up in the morning?

Although not required, you may bring an immigration lawyer in NYC to your interview. And, even if you choose not to ask an attorney to attend the interview with you, a seasoned immigration lawyer can help you prepare for the green card interview—and pass it—the first time around.
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