The Green Card interview occurs when an official with the U.S. government meets with the Green Card applicant to verify the information originally provided in the person’s application. This information includes whether the applicant is eligible to become a permanent U.S. resident and whether all the information provided on the application is valid.
The Green Card interview occurs 7 to 15 months after the Green Card application has been filed. The interview normally is held at a local United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office or at the U.S. embassy or consulate closest to the address listed on the application.
The person conducting the interview will be either a USCIS immigration officer if your interview is occurring in the U.S. or a consular officer. The interviewer will have been specifically trained for your Green Card application type.
For the most part, the interviewer’s main objective is to ensure that all information you provided on your application is accurate and is consistent with answers you provide at the interview. In addition, depending on the type of application, the interviewer may have another objective in the interview. For example, if your application is for a Marriage Green Card, the interviewer’s goal is to ensure that your marriage is legitimate and real. If the application is for a family-based Green Card, the interviewer will want to confirm that you are related to your spouse in the way you claimed in your application. For Green Card applications made under asylum laws or the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the interviewer’s goal is to make sure you need a Green Card to receive the safety and protection you claim you need in your application.
Due to the nature of the application involved, you should expect that the interviewer’s questions may be personal and may delve into areas you consider not relevant to your application. The interviewer will have done his or her homework and may bring up previous immigration history and criminal history.
We cannot stress enough the importance of being as truthful as possible when answering questions. It is highly possible that the interviewer may ask you something for which you do not know the answer. If that is the case, it is best to simply admit you do not know and not lie or make up an answer.
Avoid providing half-truths to the interviewer. Your goal in this interview is to present yourself as sincerely and honestly as possible. If you have negative things in your past, be open about these blemishes on your record, even if you are uncomfortable and even if you believe your answers may hurt your application. Honesty, even if the answers are not positive, will always look better than lying or being purposefully evasive. Dishonesty could result in your application being denied and could seriously harm your chances of living in the U.S.
Questions may include personal ones, including details about you personally: your birthdate, how do you start your day, what kind of job do you have, and what your favorite food is. These personal questions are meant to learn a little about you and to get you to loosen up.
If you have children, the interviewer will want to ask you questions regarding your kids. They will want to know more than just what their names and ages are. What are your children’s favorite foods? How do they get to school? What are their interests, such as extracurricular activities?
The interviewer will also want to ask you questions regarding your spouse to see just how much you know him or her. The interviewer will want to know how you met, where you went on your honeymoon, and where your first date was. They will also want to know how much you know about your spouse, such as what their medications are, what their pet peeves are, and where they come from and their past.
The questions asked by immigration can tend to be extremely personal, especially if you are applying for a Marriage Green Card. If you are normally a very private person, be prepared for questions you may feel are personal. However, what the interviewing officer is trying to do by asking these questions is to get an idea of just how close you and your spouse are to see if your relationship is truly legitimate. These questions may lead to some uncomfortable situations, especially if the interviewer starts asking you about your reproductive health, what types of contraceptives you use, and your intimacy with your spouse. If a question is asked that you personally feel is too intrusive, you are free to let the interviewing officer know that fact. By speaking up and telling the officer you are uncomfortable answering certain questions, you are showing that you are at least being honest and sincere. They may insist you still answer the question, but at least you are showing you are trying to work with them. It is important that you be as honest and open as possible when responding to their questions, even if things get awkward or uncomfortable.
Some of the questions may also include information about important milestones or events in your life. They may ask what the most important holiday is in your household, what religion you practice, and what anniversaries or special occasions you celebrate.
Preparing for the Interview
You will want to make a good impression on the interviewer, which means you should arrive on time for the interview and be prepared. If your interview is for a marriage green card, you should prepare for the interview with your spouse. The last thing you want to do is provide answers that directly contradict each other and make the interviewer suspicious that your relationship is not completely legitimate.
If your interview is for a marriage Green Card, you will also want to sit down with your spouse to review your relationship, your memories, and your history. You will want to make sure that any inconsistencies are ironed out and do not occur in the interviews. The last thing you want is for one small mistake in answering questions to result in your application being denied.
When preparing for your interview, make sure you assemble copies of the original documents and forms that were needed in your application. If any changes have occurred since you made your original application, make sure to bring those with you, as well.
If the application is for a Family Green Card, you will want to bring anything with you that will help prove your relationship with your spouse is real and legitimate. Bring pictures of your time together, including proposal and wedding photographs, phone records of calls between you and your spouse, marriage certificates, or cards you have exchanged with each other. These extra items will help add sincerity and realness to your application, supporting the fact that you have a real relationship with your spouse.
It is a good general rule of thumb that the more documents you have, the better, when it comes to your interview.
What Happens after the Interview?
Once the interview is concluded, several different things may occur. The best scenario is your interview goes well, and your Green Card application is approved. If that happens, you should expect to receive your Green Card in the mail within two to three weeks. It is also possible that you may be asked to come back for a second interview if they need more information to verify your background or your relationship with your spouse or family member. If that is the case, you will be receive a new appointment notice from USCIS or will receive a notification through the mail from your local U.S. embassy.
The government may not need you to come in for a second interview but instead, they may request additional information by sending you a Request for Evidence (RFE). An RFE asks you to submit additional information needed to allow the government to make a final decision on your application. If you do receive an RFE in the mail, it will tell you what information or documents need to be submitted and when this information must be received. RFEs are sometimes submitted if the government says they need legal information, such as birth certificates or criminal records, or financial statements. In order to ensure that your application is processed, it is of the utmost importance that you submit everything requested for in the RFE. If not, the application will likely be denied.
The government may also notify you that they need additional time to review your application in more detail. If that does occur, you will be notified by the government of any additional steps that need to take place before a final decision can be made. At that point, it is usually a waiting game until a decision is issued.
The other alternative is the government denies your application, meaning you are no longer eligible for a Green Card. This denial can come in a written letter at a later date, or, on some occasions, it can occur on the spot at the time of your interview.
If your Green Card application is denied, you may have a chance to appeal the decision. However, if that does occur, we recommend you seek legal counsel if you have not done so already. You will want to contact a skilled and experienced immigration lawyer as the appeals process can be complicated and frustrating for applicants going it alone.
If you are facing a Green Card interview after a successful application has been made, we recommend you consult an immigration attorney. This individual will likely have extensive experience in dealing with USCIS and can help you properly prepare for the interview process. If you are considering applying for a Green Card, it may be wise to consult an immigration attorney, as well, to ensure that everything is properly submitted and that the process proceeds smoothly. The attorneys at Lasnetski Gihon Law, regularly help clients work their way through the immigration process and are here to help you initiate the Green Card application journey, guiding you every step of the way.
Immigration Law Services in Orlando and Jacksonville
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If you are seeking a green card or helping a family member obtain one, it makes all the difference to have attorneys knowledgeable in immigration law to help you navigate the complex legal process. The dedicated and experienced immigration law attorneys at Lasnetski Gihon Law are here to stand by your family’s side through the process. Don’t delay! Contact us today at 904-542-3332 (Jacksonville) 407-228-2019 (Orlando).