If you are a U.S. citizen who is seeking to help their parents, spouse or dependents obtain green cards, then you probably already suspect that they will probably have to go through an interview in order to fulfill all of the requirements. Take a look at this post to learn what to expect during a family-based green card interview.
Why is There a Family-Based Green Card Interview?
While the interview may seem like a daunting and unnecessary step in the green card process, it serves to help the USCIS, Department of State, and U.S. Embassy or Consulate make sure that no one takes advantage of the immigration system.
The purpose of the interview is to prevent unqualified applicants from entering into the U.S. under false pretenses. The USCIS sees the interview as an opportunity for your relative to amend any incorrect information or information that has changed since they filed the green card application.
For these reasons, the interview should not be a worrying factor in your relative’s immigration process provided that they truly fulfill all requirements and answer the questions truthfully.
How to Be Exempt from the Interview
The USCIS lays out several relatives that typically do not have to go through the interview process. If you are a U.S. citizen, they are:
- Your parents
- Any applicants that have disabilities that prevent them from participating in the interview.
- Any unmarried children
- A fiance that you plan to marry in the next 90 days as well as his/her children. This is provided that you and your fiance have already been interviewed for a K visa.
- Many cases of asylum and refuge where the applicant has already been interviewed.
- If you are a lawful permanent resident, your children under the age of 14 do not need to be interviewed.
Please note that this is a list of applicants that typically have their interviews waived. Being on this list in no way automatically waives the requirement. Here are some reasons that your relative may be called in for an interview despite being on the above list.
- Their identity has not been officially confirmed
- Their legal status has not been validated
- The way that they entered the country has caused an issue
- There are concerns with your relative’s criminal history
- The USCIS suspects fraud
- Your relative’s fingerprints have not registered in the system on two separate occasions.
- Your relative has a Class A medical condition that needs clarification
What to Bring
In most cases here are the items that your relative will need to bring into the interview:
- A passport that will be valid six months past the date that your relative will be entering the U.S.
- An Affidavit of Support. This would be a variant of the I-864 form.
- The DS-260 form.
- Two passport-style photos
- Civil documents such as a birth or marriage certificate, driver’s license, and social security card.
- Evidence of an approved medical examination.
What to Expect: The Interview Experience
In most family-based green card interview situations, you, the U.S. citizen petitioner, will need to accompany the applicant into the interview. The only exception to this rule is if you are incarcerated or are otherwise physically incapable of attending the interview.
If your relative is not able to communicate well in English, this will not inhibit your interview. You can hire an interpreter to help with communication during the interview.
However, the USCIS is able to reject an interpreter if the officer deems him/her incompetent or fraudulent. It is best to use an unbiased third-party interpreter, though there have been cases of applicants using relatives or friends as interpreters.
The interview itself is usually not very long provided that no issues arise. Many successful cases report interview times as low as 20 minutes. Even so, you should make a point to arrive several minutes early. After you pass through the security checks at the USCIS field office, you will need to wait in the main lobby until your number is called.
When an officer brings you into his or her office, you and your relative will have all of your relevant documents checked. The officer will then go through your application and biometrics to make sure that everything matches the database.
Once all of the official documentation has been analyzed, the officer will then begin asking you and your relative some simple questions and reading your response to each one.
Common Interview Questions
Some of the more common interview questions will test your relative’s knowledge of American history and culture. If this is a marriage-based interview, you will most likely be asked basic questions about your relationship. If your relationship is legitimate, then the questions should be simple and easy to answer.
Here are some sample questions:
- How will you financially support yourself in the U.S.?
- Do you have any criminal background?
- What is your relationship to your sponsoring family member?
- When and why did the American Civil War take place?
- What is the name of the U.S. national anthem?
- What day is U.S. Independence Day?
Here are some sample questions for a marriage-based interview:
- How did you meet?
- Who does the chores or housework in the relationship?
- If you have any pets, what are their names?
- How big is your home?
- What is your monthly mortgage payment or rent?
- If you have children, what are their names? What activities are they involved with?
These questions may seem invasive, but they are designed to determine if your relationship is a ploy to obtain a fraudulent green card.
How Our Lawyers Can Help
The best way to be completely prepared for your family-based green card interview is to get help. Fortunately, you are permitted to have an attorney accompany you to the interview. While he or she cannot answer any questions for you, your attorney can provide invaluable insight into the details of the interview so that you are as prepared as possible before the appointment.
To get in touch with one of our highly experienced immigration lawyers, you can contact us and schedule your consultation today.