Most U.S. citizens and U.S. green card holders (i.e., lawful permanent residents) are lawfully entitled to sponsor their immigrant spouses for a green card, which allows a foreign national to live and work anywhere in the United States. A marriage-based green card can take between nine (9) and 38 months (about 3 years) to process, depending on whether the sponsoring spouse is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR).
After submitting Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) with supporting documents, Form I-485 (Adjustment of Status), and appearing at a biometric services appointment, the final step of the marriage-based green card process is the “green card interview.” The interview occurs between three (3) and four (4) months after the petition is filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
What is the Marriage-Based Green Card Interview?
The interview will be conducted by a trained immigration official with the goal of confirming the authenticity and validity of the relationship. The interviewing officer will ask questions about the couple’s relationship history, daily activities, and even their future plans.
What are the Common Questions the Interviewer Ask?
The officer will ask questions about how the couple met and how the relationship progressed before the marriage. The spouses should establish a romantic relationship and detail how they fell in love prior to being engaged then married.
Common questions about how the couple met include:
- How did you meet?
- Where was your first date?
- What do the two of you have in common?
- When did the relationship become romantic?
- How long was it before you decided to get married?
- Who proposed to whom?
- Why did you have a short or long engagement?
- Has each of your parents met each other?
Another common set of questions is about the wedding day. You and your spouse must remember as many details of that day as possible.
The following are common wedding-related interview questions:
- Where was your wedding held?
- How many people attended the wedding?
- Did each of your parents attend?
- Who were the groomsmen/bridesmaids?
- Where did you go for your honeymoon?
There will also be questions about the details of the relationship as a married couple. Most married couples discuss several topics at least at some point during the first year.
Common questions regarding the relationship aspect of marriage include:
- When is your anniversary?
- When is your spouse’s birthday?
- Do you live together or plan to live together?
- How much time do you spend together?
- Have you been on vacation together?
- Do you plan to have children?
- Do you have any children from prior marriages?
- Do you attend church?
The couple must also know about each other’s education and employment backgrounds, so that the interviewer can confirm both spouses know details about each other’s lives.
The following are common education- and employment-related questions:
- Where did your spouse go to school?
- Did they attend college?
- What was your spouse’s major?
- What type of degrees have your spouse earned?
- Who is your spouse’s current employer?
- How long has your spouse been working for the current employer?
- What is your spouse’s prior work history?
Lastly, there will be questions about the couple’s family and friends.
Common questions about friends and family include:
- Have you met each other’s families?
- How many times have you seen each other’s families?
- How do you celebrate holidays?
- How many siblings does your spouse have and what are their names?
- What is the name of your spouse’s best friend?
- Do you have mutual friends?
What Happens After the Marriage Green Card Interview?
After the marriage-based green card interview is complete, you must wait for the USCIS to approve your petition. You may receive news that your green card has been either approved or rejected a few weeks from the interview date. If the petition is approved, then the immigrant spouse’s passport will be returned with the conditional green card printed inside.
What is a Conditional Green Card?
Conditional green cards are valid for only two years and generally given if the marriage is less than two years old. When the conditional (CR1) green card is set to expire within 90 days (about 3 months), the couple must file Form I-751 (Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence) to obtain a permanent (IR1) green card, which is valid for 10 years.
What If I am Asked to Come Back for a Second Interview?
Unfortunately, the main reason USCIS would ask you to come back for a second interview is that your first interview raised suspicions that the marriage may be a fraud. The second interview is called the “stokes interview,” or marriage fraud interview.
Common reasons why you must return for a second interview include:
- Difficulties answering simple questions
- Hesitating to answer questions
- Having different answers
At the second interview, an officer will place both spouses in separate rooms to be interviewed individually. The official will ask the same questions to each spouse then compare their answers to see if they match.
When Can a Green Card Holder Apply for Citizenship?
After an immigrant spouse has been a lawful permanent resident for at least three years, he/she can apply for U.S. citizenship through the naturalization process.
If you are interested in obtaining a marriage-based green card in North Charleston, SC, call Maghzi Law Firm LLC at (843) 800-2750 or fill out our online contact form to schedule an initial consultation. Our legal team provides experienced and personalized legal services in English, Spanish, Portugues, and Farsi!