The Adjustment of Status Interview Experience
Most of the immigration process is outlined in black and white with clear-cut rules about how each and every procedure is conducted. But the Adjustment of Status (AOS) interview is one part of the process with a human component that can’t be predicted with certainty.
AOS interview experiences differ from person to person, couple to couple, and USCIS officer to officer. It’s a portion of the immigration process where every individual’s story will be a little bit different. These differences could range from clearing up small mistakes you made with your forms to a disgruntled officer seemingly trying to deny your application.
This is the part of your immigration journey which we can’t give black letter instructions for or reliable predictions for how it will go because of the unique characteristics of everyone’s cases and personalities involved.
But we can provide one story of a person, who we’ll call Jill, who went to the AOS interview to become a legal permanent resident. Her husband, who we’ll call Jack, went to the interview with her.
Jill’s AOS Interview
Jack was a U.S. citizen and his wife, Jill, was not. They had an AOS interview in Jacksonville, Florida, after they filed I-130 and I-485 applications for Jill to be allowed to live in the United States, which she had been doing illegally since her student visa expired a year earlier.
The couple arrived at the district office thirty minutes early for their 10:30 AM appointment. They were called into the interview a little bit early because they arrived before they had to.
The first questions came directly from Jill’s applications and the interviewer went down a checklist as they answered the questions.
Questions to Jill
The questions directed at Jill included:
- Do you live in a house or an apartment and what is the address?
- Do you have any children?
- Where were you born? Jill was born in Japan and spent her whole life there before coming to the United States for college at the age of nineteen.
- Have you ever worked in the United States? She had not.
- Have you ever applied for adjustment of status before? This was her first time to apply for anything more than a visa.
- What type of visa allowed you to come to the U.S.?
- When did you come to the U.S. and what was the longest amount of time you spent here?
- Have you left the U.S. since your visa expired? She had not left since her visa expired because she didn’t know if she would be allowed to return.
- Have you ever been arrested?
- Do you belong to any organizations or clubs?
Questions to Jack
The questions directed at Jack included:
- Where were you born? Jack was born in the United States.
- What is Jill’s birthday? He told the interviewer the correct date but he was off by one year. When the interviewer appeared to be unsatisfied with his answer he quickly reconsidered and corrected himself with the appropriate year.
- Do you and Jill live at the same address?
- Do you have any children?
Questions About their Relationship
After the questions directly from the applications, the interviewer asked the following questions about Jack and Jill’s relationship.
- How long have you known each other?
- Where did you first meet? They had a class together during Jill’s junior year of college in Miami.
- How did you propose to your wife?
- When and where was your wedding?
- Did any of your friends or family witness the wedding? No witnesses signed the marriage certificate because Florida law did not require it. Fortunately, the couple had pictures with them to prove that there were friends and relatives at the wedding and this was sufficient evidence for the interviewer.
- What were some of your friends’ names who attended the wedding? Which of your family members attended the wedding?
- Did each of your families support the marriage? Jack’s parents did not initially support the marriage because Jack and Jill got married after only four months of dating and Jack’s parents thought they should have dated for at least a year before getting married, but that eventually has parents had come around. Jack and Jill showed the interviewer a video on Jack’s phone showing Jack’s mother hugging Jill at a New Years gathering.
- Have you met each other’s families? Jack had not met Jill’s parents because they lived in Japan and had not visited the United States.
Questions About Evidence
Next, the interviewer asked Jack and Jill to provide any documents that would substantiate the marriage. They gave her:
- A letter from their bank with both of their names on it showing they had a joint bank account. The interviewer told them he would prefer a bank statement showing recent transactions.
- Photos of their wedding and honeymoon as well as various other pictures from their time together such as Thanksgiving and a camping trip. The interviewer made copies of several of these photos.
- An optometrist’s bill for an appointment with Jill with their address on it along with a copy of a cashed check used to pay the bill.
- Joint tax returns
- The rental agreement for their apartment with Jack and Jill’s names on it as co-tenants.
The interviewer made copies of most of these documents and photos.
The entire interview took less than thirty minutes. At its conclusion the interviewer thanked Jack and Jill for coming to the office and told them that he was satisfied with everything they provided.
Jack and Jill were told that the interviewer would make a decision within the following week and that Jill would receive a letter about the decision.
The experience related above is fairly common. Be prepared to answer questions about your life together, ranging from mundane details such as having a joint bank account, to more interesting aspects of your relationship, such as familial opinions regarding the marriage.
Above all, stay calm. As long as you have provided solid evidence that your relationship is legitimate and you answer all questions truthfully, then you should have no problem during the interview.
If you choose to have an attorney present during the interview, he or she will generally not interfere much with the interview. The attorney is there primarily in a supporting role with your evidence organized and answers to trickier questions prepared in the event you get nervous or aren’t sure how to answer a question.