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Tips for Your Immigration Marriage Interview

William J. Quirk, Esq., LLC April 10, 2024

Male worker handing visa application to black man in US immigration officeThe marriage-based green card interview is a significant step in the process of becoming a lawful permanent resident in the United States through marriage. Unsurprisingly, it can also be a source of stress for couples who are unsure of what to expect.  

The goal of the interview is for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to confirm the authenticity of the marriage.  

Here are some tips from the experienced immigration law team at William J. Quirk, Esq., LLC to help you prepare and succeed in your immigration marriage interview. 

Be Prepared 

Being well-prepared is paramount for success. Start by gathering all the necessary documents. This includes your marriage certificate, joint bank statements, insurance policies where both partners are beneficiaries, photographs together at various events, and any correspondence you’ve shared. It’s also wise to organize these documents in a way that they can be easily presented during the interview.  

Additionally, review your application form thoroughly before the interview. Familiarize yourself with all of the information you’ve provided, especially dates and specific details about your relationship. Any inconsistency in your answers compared to what's on the form can raise suspicions about the authenticity of your marriage.  

Preparation also involves understanding the types of questions that might be asked. These can range from basic questions about how you met and the timeline of your relationship, to more detailed inquiries about your daily life together, such as who does specific chores in the house or what you did for your last birthday. It may be helpful to practice answering these questions together with your spouse to ensure your responses are aligned and fluid. 

Remember, the key is to be honest and natural. Over-prepared or rehearsed answers can appear insincere. The interviewing officer's goal is to ascertain the genuineness of your marital relationship, not to trick you into making mistakes. Therefore, being straightforward and genuine is the best strategy. 

Dedicate Time to Practicing 

It might seem odd to "practice" for a marriage interview, but doing so can help both partners feel more confident and reduce nervousness. Review common questions that are asked during these interviews, such as how you met, your wedding details, and your life together.  

With your spouse, dedicate time to discussing your routines, hobbies, and even the small, seemingly mundane aspects of your relationship, like who makes coffee in the morning or your favorite TV shows to watch together.  

By syncing up on these everyday topics and preparing answers to any questions that may address them, you'll be able to naturally articulate the genuine nature of your relationship during the interview. 

For some extra practice, consider doing mock interviews with a friend or family member acting as the interviewer. This exercise can help both partners get accustomed to answering questions in front of others, mimicking the actual interview environment. It's essential, however, to make sure that this practice supports honest and natural responses rather than scripted answers, as authenticity is critical during the actual interview. 

Be Honest 

The USCIS officer’s job is to determine the authenticity of your marriage, and they are trained to identify deceit. If there are questions you do not know the answer to or are unsure about, it is perfectly acceptable to say so.  

However, if you respond with "I don't know" to too many questions, it may raise suspicion.  

To ensure not only honest but quality answers, be sure to communicate openly with your spouse about any areas of your relationship that might be questioned more deeply.  

For instance, if you and your partner come from different cultural backgrounds, be prepared to discuss how you integrate these aspects into your life together.  

Some examples could include celebrating holidays from both cultures, learning each other's languages, or incorporating a blend of traditions into your daily routines. This not only shows the authenticity of your relationship but also demonstrates to the USCIS officer your commitment to bridging cultural divides and building a life together centered around mutual respect and understanding. 

Keep Calm 

Nervousness is natural, but try to stay as calm as possible. Calmness is often demonstrative of confidence, which can help portray your relationship as authentic, positive, and healthy.  

Remember, this interview is fundamentally about sharing the story of your relationship.  

During the interview, do your best to maintain open body language, and don't rush your answers. If you need clarification on a question, it's okay to ask.  

Before the interview, you can also take some proactive steps to ease your mind. If you're prone to nervousness (which many people experience before any type of interview, so you're not alone!), start by practicing deep breathing exercises, which can significantly lower your stress level and enhance your focus.  

Similarly, engaging in light physical activity, like a short walk, can release tension and promote a sense of well-being. Visualizing a positive outcome can create a mental framework of success, helping to alleviate anxiety. It may also be beneficial to arrive at the interview location early, giving you extra time to acclimate to the environment and perform any last-minute preparations.

Lastly, remind yourself and your partner of the strength and legitimacy of your relationship. Confidence in your partnership is the foundation for presenting a genuine and compelling narrative to the USCIS officer. 

Seek Legal Guidance 

Consider consulting with a seasoned immigration attorney who can provide you with guidance that is specific to your situation. William Quirk has decades of experience in immigration law and can assist you in preparing for your interview, ensuring you understand the process and what is expected of you and your spouse. 

Remember, every couple's situation is unique, and so is every immigration interview. The tips above are meant to give you a general sense of how to prepare and what to expect. For personalized advice, reach out to William J. Quirk, Esq., LLC, where we dedicate ourselves to helping clients with their immigration needs in and around Hackensack, New Jersey, as well as the Clifton, Paterson, and West New York areas.