The interview is the final step before an applicant is granted a permanent residency card (i.e., a “green card”). It is the culmination of a family’s hopes and dreams of entering the United States as a permanent resident. It is the final crucial step for anyone trying to become a U.S. citizen, and therefore, applicants place themselves under a significant amount of stress.
Sponsoring a Spousal Visa
Sponsoring family members is a way for U.S. citizens to get U.S. permanent residency for their foreign-born family members. A marriage green card allows the spouse of a U.S. citizen to obtain permanent residency in the United States. The spouse may apply for U.S. citizenship after living in the United States for three years.
The Green Card Interview
The spousal visa interview is the final and most stressful step in the green card application process. The purpose of the interview is to assess the authenticity of the marriage. Basically, USCIS evaluates whether the couple is truly married and in a romantic relationship, or in a sham marriage to obtain a green card. The interviewer will ask for proof of the marriage and questions about the relationship and the partners. The interviewer may quiz each spouse about the other to test how much or how little they know about one another.
Where the interview is conducted depends on where the spouse lives. If the spouse is applying for a green card from within the United States, he or she and the U.S. citizen partner will attend the interview together at the closest USCIS facility. If the foreign-born partner is applying for a green card abroad, he or she will attend the closest U.S. embassy or consulate interview. The sponsoring spouse does not need to attend the interview if it is abroad.
Five Common Mistakes to Avoid
First, applicants should come to the interview with original or certified copies of the following documents: marriage certificate, address verification, the sponsoring spouse’s U.S. passport or naturalization certificate, arrest and court documents, tax returns, pay stubs, and W-2 forms. The applicant should also include a certified English translation of any document that is not in English.
Second, the applicant must arrive on time. The purpose of the interview is to show the applicant seriously desires to live in the United States. The applicants must focus on making a good impression at all times. Third, the applicant cannot lie. The USCIS will verify all the answers, and any discrepancies will delay the approval or could result in its outright denial.
Fourth, applicants who don’t speak English must bring a translator. The USCIS does not provide translators for green card interviews. Moreover, attorneys cannot act as their client’s translator. Finally, the applicant must not argue with the interviewer. The interviewer may question the validity of the relationship or ask uncomfortable questions. Any applicant who believes he or she is being mistreated may calmly ask for a supervisor, but should not argue with the interviewer.
Once the interview is done, the applicant can expect his or her green card to arrive by U.S. mail in two to three weeks.