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Preparing for a Marriage-Based Immigration Interview

In a marriage- based adjustment interview, the couple must prove that the marriage was valid and in good faith from its inception and that it was not entered into for immigration purposes.

For couples who live together, have a common social life, do not have a huge age gap, have common interests and same cultural/ racial backgrounds, it is easier to get a petition approved. In other words, “conventional” marital situations usually get approved faster.

However, certain factors or situations or “red flags” could make USCIS want to take a close scrutiny at the marriage. Examples of these are multiple applications/ petitions filed by an applicant/ petitioner, short time between entry and marriage, unusual marriage history, children born during marriage to other parent, unusual or large age discrepancy between spouses, unusual cultural differences, low employment/ financial status of petitioner, and previous marriage to foreign nationals.

In one case, a foreign national who entered with a visitor’s visa remained for a period beyond the six-months given to him. After 5 years, he married a US citizen who filed an I-130 petition for her. During the interview, the officer noted that “there were no discrepancies in their answers” but that they had “no joint information”, neither of them worked and they lived with the US citizen’s mother. There were missing information about how they met that gave “red flags” to the officer.

It is best to go to the interview well prepared. The USCIS officer may ask questions about the data entries made on the I-130 petition. He may also inquire about how you go about your day-to-day life together. The officer may also inquire about the documents submitted with the petition so it is good if you will run through them a few times just to refresh your memory of the information you provided in the petition. Oftentimes, marriage-based interviews can make one falter or uncomfortable even if you have nothing to hide.

Practicing possible scenarios or interview questions is recommended. It can seem intimidating to be asked probing questions so it is advisable to prepare well.

It is not uncommon for USCIS officers to ask about personal details such as information about your relatives, your work and your friends. As long as you have nothing to hide and have a good faith marriage, do not be afraid when the immigration officer does that.

Lawyers’ role in the interview is limited to being observers and they will not be able to help you answer the questions. They, however, may ask the USCIS officer to clarify the question asked.

Be careful not to sign any document withdrawing the visa petition without consulting your lawyer. Do not sign any form stating that the marriage is fraudulent. At any point during the interview, you can ask to stop it and consult with your lawyer.

Paying attention to the question and answering that question is crucial. If the question demands a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, answer it as such, then give an explanation if necessary.

It is of course unavoidable to make mistakes. While it is best to remember important dates like birthdays and anniversaries, oftentimes we find ourselves forgetting a few details. At any point during the interview, you can always go back and change or clarify your answer.

It is also okay to ask for clarification if you do not understand a question. Fully explain what you want to say. Say “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember” if such is the truth instead of making guesses, and don’t say a document exists when it doesn’t. Bear in mind that the officer may ask you to produce the said document later on.

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