How to “Pass” a Marriage-Based Green Card Interview
Updated: Feb 28
By Parviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.
Most marriage-based adjustment of status cases end with a joint interview with both the petitioner and beneficiary.
Thorough preparation for the interview can make the difference between an approval and a denial. If you don’t have a lawyer, you may want to consider consulting with us, or another qualified immigration lawyer ASAP to avoid a harmful mistake.
If you’re going to proceed to the interview yourself, you should know that interview preparation starts when you receive the interview notice.
Note: this article covers preparation for a marriage-based adjustment of status interview, not a consular processing interview, which has different procedure.
Prepare Interview Documents
Your interview notice will have a list of documents to bring with you to the interview. Make sure to go through the list carefully and check that you have each document.
Also, best practice is to make a copy of all original documents you bring with you to the interview, such as your birth certificate, passport, and marriage certificate.
As part of your interview, you’ll be asked questions about the information provided in your applications (i.e. I-130, I-130A, I-485, I-864, etc.).
Petitioners-Spouses (the U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident) should know all the answers in the forms I-130, I-130A, and I-864.
Applicant-Beneficiary spouses (the person applying for the green card) should know the answers in the form I-130A, I-485, I-765, I-131, and ideally the I-130 as well.
In my experience having represented many clients in interviews, some USCIS officers will only hone in on questions they have some interest in, whereas other officers will ask applicants every single question on the applications. Therefore, you should be prepared to answer all questions if necessary.
Decide If Changes Are Necessary
As part of your interview, you can make changes/corrections to your application (more on that below). To that end, you should review all your applications (i.e. I-130, I-130A, I-485, I-864, etc.) in advance of your interview.
If you see any answers that need to be changed, such as an address, date, or otherwise, make a note of that.
Note: be very careful making changes to your application that could fundamentally change your eligibility for legal permanent residence or cause other issues for you. If you are not aware of if a change can negatively affect your immigration, you should consult a qualified immigation lawyer.
Evidence of Bona-Fide (i.e. “Real Marriage’) Marriage
You’ll have to prove to the adjudicator that your marriage is “bona fide” meaning you didn’t enter into it only for the purposes of getting a green card.
You prove this by a combination of documents you give as well as verbal answers you give to questions. The types of documents you are requested to bring (photos together, joint bank accounts, lease, car payment, health insurance, etc) are listed in the notice.
Example of a wedding photo that would be included as evidence of bona-fide relationship
You can also expect to be asked questions about your relationship, and living arrangement such as:
how did you meet?
who asked who out first?
when is your wedding anniversary?
do you know the names of your wife’s nephews?
where does your husband park his car?
The questions above are examples of what can be asked, but in reality much more detail can be asked about your relationship. Make sure you go over details of your relationship with one another before the interview. Even people in real marriages can and do have different recollections about the details of their marriage.
In most adjustment of status interviews, both spouses are interviewed in a room together at the same time. However, in a small percentage of interviews, the adjudicator suspects there may be fraud in the application. In those interviews, the adjudicator may separate the spouses and ask them questions separately in an attempt to see if they give different answers to the same question.
This is called a Stokes interview. Here is a brief overview of how these interviews work.
Other Considerations - Medical Exam, Lawyer Representation
Nearly all marriage-based adjustment of status cases will require a sealed medical examination (form I-693). If, at the time of interview, you haven’t been instructed to mail the sealed package to USCIS, you must bring it to the interview to give to the adjudicator.
When you receive the sealed medical examination from the USCIS approved civil surgeon (i.e. doctor), you should have received an unsealed copy for you or your lawyer to review. This unsealed copy should be read carefully to screen for any medical conditions that could make the applicant ineligible for a green card, or otherwise raise a problem in the case.
Applicants for adjustment of status are entitled to be represented by a lawyer, retained and compensated by the applicant, at the interview. Pre-pandemic, lawyers were obligated to appear at the interview in person. However, during the pandemic, USCIS field offices started allowing lawyers to appear telephonically.
The ability for lawyers to appear telephonically makes lawyers more accessible for a higher percentage of applicants. If you’ve already received an interview notice, and you’re thinking of hiring a lawyer, consult with one as soon as possible so that the lawyer has proper time to review your case, prepare you for the interview and also attend it, either in person or telephonically.
Consult with Malakouti Law
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so if you want to plan out the next immigration and citizenship steps for yourself and your family, you don’t have to guess.
Book a consultation with a qualified immigration lawyer who can answer your questions, including those you didn’t know you had.
The information in this page could become outdated. The Law Office of Parviz Malakouti does not guarantee the accuracy of information presented nor assume responsibility for actions taken in reliance of this information. Each immigration case is particular and you should consult with a qualified, licensed immigration lawyer about your case before taking any steps. Attorney Advertising.