What will my Fiancé-Based Green Card Interview be Like?
If you have decided to pursue a K-1 fiancé or K-3 spousal visa for entry into the United States, an important step in the process of obtaining permanent residency will be the green card interview. It should be noted that the technical term for this step is an Adjustment of Status Interview.This name reflects the purpose of the interview; it is used to determine whether your residency status should be adjusted to that of a permanent lawful resident.
If you are granted permanent status, you will be issued a green card, reflecting your permanent lawful status. The thought of having to attend such an interview can be stressful and intimidating, but this article will describe what you can expect, in order to minimize the stress of the unknown.
Where does this interview fit in the overall process of getting a green card?
After you and your fiancé have begun the fiancé visa process by filing a Petition for a Fiancé (K-1) visa with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the USCIS will either approve or deny your petition. If it approves the petition, it will forward the petition to the National Visa Center (NVC), which will in turn send the petition to the United States embassy or consulate in the non-citizen fiancé’s home country.
You, as the non-citizen fiancé, will be scheduled for a Visa Interview at the embassy or consulate. (Note, this visa interview is different from the status adjustment interview.) If everything checks out, and the examining official is satisfied that you and your fiancé are in a legitimate relationship and actually intend to marry, you will be issued a K-1 fiancé visa.
At this point, you may legally enter the United States.
Once in the country, you will need to adjust your status in order to remain here permanently. After you marry, you will file a Petition to Adjust Status (Form I-485), along with all of its required supporting documentation, with the USCIS. Some applicants will be called in for an Adjustment of Status Interview, and other applicants will not.
The purpose of the interview is to clear up questions that your petition may have raised before the USCIS can adjust your status.
Where will my interview take place?
If you have been notified that you have been selected for an interview, it will take place at your local USCIS office. There are generally a handful of offices in each state, with more in heavily populated areas. It is important that you attend your interview, and take it seriously.
Once in the USCIS office building, your actual interview will take place in an office of a USCIS official, which will likely be similar to an office cubicle.
What will the environment be like?
The environment of the USCIS office will likely be somewhat imposing. Before you may enter the building, you will have to go through a security checkpoint and metal detector, similar to what you would encounter at the airport.
Once in the building, you will be directed to a large waiting room, where you sit and wait among a large number of other applicants and interviewees. It is likely that you will have to wait for a rather long time, as the offices can be quite backed up. When it is your turn, an official will call you by your name, and you will be led back to an interview office.
How should I present myself?
It is important that you present yourself in a manner that reflects the seriousness and importance of the occasion. This interview is your chance to demonstrate that you are the type of person who is appropriate and fit for permanent residency in the United States.
You can best convey this message by dressing neatly and professionally, and not wearing or saying anything that would bring your judgment or morals into question. It is also important to not get overly nervous.
Who should I bring to the interview?
You will be required to bring your fiancé or spouse who submitted the petition on your behalf. You may also bring an interpreter with you if you are not comfortable speaking English. The USCIS will not provide you with an interpreter, and only a few of its examining officers are bilingual. Your interpreter may be a friend, or a professional that you have hired. But, you may not use your spouse or fiancé as an interpreter, given the heightened risk of fraud that doing so would create.
Additionally, you should bring your attorney, if you have one, in order to expedite the process. However, your attorney may not answer any questions on your behalf, and is present only to address legal issues that may arise.
What will happen in the interview?
The examining officer’s questions will be aimed at determining the validity of your application, and making sure that you and your partner are actually in the type of relationship that you say you are, such that you are truly eligible for permanent residency. Upon being led back to the interview office, you and everyone accompanying you will asked to raise your right hand and give an oath or affirmation that you promise to tell the truth.
Initially, the officer will go through and review the contents of your Application for Permanent Residency. It is important that during this interview process your answers are the same as those you gave on the written application. As a result, it is highly recommended that you and your partner prepare for the interview by going over the Application, to make sure that you are on the same page.
The officer will proceed to ask questions aimed at evaluating the validity of your marriage or relationship. These questions will ask about your married life, your marriage ceremony, how you met, and other details designed to satisfy the officer that your marriage or relationship is not a sham.
You can read a more complete discussion and list of likely questions through our companion article, “What Questions Will I Be Asked at my Marriage-based Green Card Interview?”
Most of these questions should be relatively straightforward. However, if your answers raise concerns, you may have to undergo an additional round of questioning. This is called the Fraud Interview, and involves some more intensive and probing questions posed to each partner separately, intended to more carefully examine the legitimacy of your marriage.
Being selected for a Fraud Interview is not a death sentence for your application, but does mean that you will not smoothly sail through the process. If you have been asked to attend a Fraud Interview, you should consider meeting with an experienced immigration attorney to help you prepare.
What happens after the interview?
Interview durations can range from 20 minutes if there are no issues, to much longer in the event a Fraud Interview is conducted. If the officer declines to approve your application due to incomplete documentation, he will send you home with a list of what you need to submit in order to have a complete application, and a deadline for doing so.
If your application is approved on the spot, you will receive a letter recommending approval, and your actual green card will arrive in the mail a few weeks later.