Green Card Marriage Interview FAQ's
What is a green card marriage interview?
If you have applied for a green card based on your marriage to a resident of the USA, you will have to attend a green card marriage interview, as part of your application. This is usually conducted within six months to a year after you file your green card application. This is a crucial part of your application process. Not preparing for it properly could cause delays in the approval of your green card application, or even denial. Follow the steps below to help prepare you for your green card marriage interview.
How do I prepare for a green card marriage interview?
Collect all of the documentation showing that your marriage is legal and legitimate, even if you already submitted these documents with your application. This documentation can include cards, notes, letters, photographs, emails, and other little mementos, along with your marriage certificate. Other documents that are helpful are bills, assets in both of your names, bank account statements, tax returns, property deeds, and car titles. Any other items that you think may help prove that you have a legitimate, bona fide marriage should be included. Bring all of these items with your to your green card marriage interview.
The immigration service will ask you to present them with updated financial information. They want to see that both of you have a combined income of at least 125% of the federal poverty level. If you do not meet this requirement, don't worry, you can get a co-sponsor that does meet this requirement and agrees to sponsor you. Financial documents that are good to bring include at least three years' worth of tax returns, paystubs from the last few months, and a letter from your employer stating rate of pay, hours worked, and that prospects for your future employment are good.
Bring your passport with your non-immigrant visa, all I-94s and your employment authorization card to your green card marriage interview. The immigration authorities will want to review these, and upon approval you'll receive a stamp in your passport that will serve as proof of your permanent residence status until your green card arrives. You should also bring your original birth certificate, any documents you used to enter the USA and any documents issued by the immigration service, such as Advance Parole documents.
During your marriage green card interview, the officer will probably review answers to questions you submitted with your application, so be sure to review all of the forms that you've submitted to them to refresh your memory as to what answers you gave. If your situation has changed at all since the time you filed the application, you will be expected to explain those changes and your new circumstances. Be prepared to update this information. For instance, if you have had a child with your spouse, bring your child's birth certificate and let the officer know.
Arrive 15 minutes early to your green card marriage interview. Dress conservatively in business casual, but there is no need to dress formally. The officer's impression of you at your green card marriage interview could affect your approval. Do not wear anything with writing or slogans on it, especially political ones.
Be sure to let the officer know if you and your spouse have already been married for two years. In this case, you should receive a stamp for permanent residence, and not conditional residence. If you've been married for less than two years, you will receive conditional residence for two years. Ninety days before the end of the two years, you must apply to have the conditions removed and have your status changed to permanent resident.
Be honest, not only at your green card marriage interview, but in all aspects of your application. A wrong answer could be terms for denial and even bar you from the USA. If you can't remember the answer to a question, just say so. It is better to not remember than to make something up.
I came to USA on a B-2 visitor's visa. After my visa runs out, will my status be illegal until after my green card marriage interview?
No, not necessarily. Because you are married to a citizen of the USA, your status becomes legal as soon as you file for your green card through marriage application. You do not have to wait until after the green card marriage interview to become legal. Also, after you turn in the entire green card application, you can apply for a work permit and temporary travel documents. These documents will hold you over until after your green card arrives. These are great documents to have, because waiting for a green card can take an awfully long time. These documents will enable you to find employment and even travel outside the USA before your green card arrives.
Once you are a green card holder, be sure to stay current and file timely green card renewal applications. Because it takes so long to process and receive your green card, it is a good idea to file your green card renewal application a few months before it expires.
There is something you should be careful of, however. If you got your B-2 visitor's visa in order to get married and turn in a green card application in the USA, that is considered a misuse. USCIS could deny your green card application. In that case, it is a good idea to consult an immigration lawyer, who will be able to walk you through the process of asking for a waiver or forgiveness. An immigration lawyer will also be able to advise you on your immigration rights before your green card marriage interview, so that you know what you have to tell USCIS.
If you met your spouse after you came to the USA, or if you did not know whether or not you would get married when you came to the USA, then you should be fine. That would not be considered a misuse of your visitor visa. Be prepared to clarify this for the immigration authorities at your green card marriage interview.
Can my spouse, who is a permanent resident, submit an I-130 visa petition to secure my legal status?
Yes, but that is not all that is required. The information given in this article only applies to those who are married to citizens of the USA. If you are married to a permanent resident, you will only be able to submit your green card application after your spouse submits an I-130 visa petition, and you spend a few years on the waiting list.