One effective way of getting a US green card is through marriage.
If you are a citizen of another country, and are legally married to a US citizen, you will be considered an immediate relative of the US citizen. This will save you the hassle of being put on the waiting list, and will also make you immune to the numeric restriction.
Spouses of permanent residents who do not fall into the immediate relatives’ category belong to the 2A family preference category. They are bound by annual limits and are issued immigrant visas only after their priority dates (the dates on which the USCIS receives Form I – 130) become current.
You should also know that marrying a US citizen does not automatically qualify you for US citizenship right away. However, it does make you eligible for a US green card, which can eventually lead to US citizenship. This process may not be as simple as you think, and can be very grueling.
In this post, we present a few tips on how you can put the stress and anxiety aside and focus on acing the ‘green card by marriage’ interview.
What You Can Expect
The immigration interview requires the presence of both, the husband and the wife. How the interview proceeds will result in the spouse hailing from a foreign nation getting their green card and acquiring the status of a lawful permanent resident on the American soil. Or not.
This interview can be extremely stressful. However, with adequate preparation, most couples manage well.
The notice for the interview is received via mail. It contains a comprehensive list of the documents that need to be carried by you. So, do make sure you go through every point carefully.
How to Ace the Interview
1. Dress Appropriately
You know your clothes speak volumes about you. One of the first things that the USCIS officer will notice is what you’re wearing. You will, therefore, do well to get the first impression right by choosing your attire for the interview with care.
It is always advisable to wear something formal and go for a conservative look. Dress as if you were dressing for a job interview. Do keep in mind that when entering a federal building, you will mandatorily be going through security and metal detector checks.
2. Pay Attention
Know that USCIS officers have a limited amount of time to interview each couple. Typically, they allot 10 to 15 minutes for a marriage-based green card interview. You will do well by making the most of the short span of time assigned to you by being organized and keeping your answers brief and to-the-point. If the interviewer needs to know more, he will ask you.
Do not get intimidated by or uncomfortable with moments of silence as the interviewing officer tries to focus on your answers. Sit quietly and wait for the next question, without trying to make unnecessary small talk.
3. Say “I Don’t Know”
When answering questions, take the guess work out of it and try to provide specific answers. Remember, you don’t necessarily have to provide an answer to something that you don’t know. Simply saying “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember” should work well. Do not make the mistake of guessing or making up an answer. If your answer conflicts with that of your spouse, it’ll only work against you.
4. Verification Questions
Sometimes, couples are interviewed separately (individually) as the USCIS officer suspects that the marriage may not be genuine and only for the sake of acquiring a green card. These questions are not necessarily meant to be tricky, but are designed to trip up spouses who may not be familiar with each other.
Both spouses are asked questions about each other and their life together. The wife could be asked questions related to the husband’s birth place or his hobby, and vice versa. These answers are then compared to determine the level of similarity (and familiarity) between them.
It is, therefore, suggested that you pay close attention to your living arrangements and way of life, and even test each other on your respective personal information.
5. Proper Documentation is Necessary
You will be prudent in carrying a set of your original documents and a set of their photocopies to give to the USCIS officer. These documents will be related to the legitimacy of your marriage and include wedding invitations, wedding photographs, birth certificates of your children (if any), property leases with both your names, photographs of holidays or occasions spent together, joint bank account statements, and other joint financial documents.
6. Contact an Expert
If the thought of attending this interview is giving you sleepless nights, keeping you worried about something going wrong, making you insecure about certain circumstances, or stealing your peace of mind, an expert immigration attorney from your state can help you out. For instance, if you live in Illinois, you can contact an immigration attorney in Chicago and consult with him.
Your lawyer can help you prepare for the interview like no one can, and his guidance can make all the difference between the green card being granted or denied.
7. Be Punctual
As already mentioned, the USCIS officers are always pressed for time. Hence, never be late to your interview. In fact, it is suggested you reach about 45 minutes before the scheduled time. If you have an attorney, or have a complicated case at hand, begin the interview process only in the presence of your lawyer.
Also, bear in mind that because all immigration offices are in secure facilities, you will not be permitted to carry items that can pose as potential security threats. These items include cell phones, matches, lighters, liquids, pepper sprays, and sharp objects.
While it may seem like a whirlwind process, you need to stay focused and work towards preparing for this all-important interview. Nobody said getting a green card, even by marriage, would be easy, but the above pointers and guidance from a skilled immigration attorney should go a long way in helping you take timely steps in the right direction and convincing the USCIS officials. It shouldn’t be long before you find yourself receiving your green card.