When applying for a green card, one of the final steps of the process is going to be attending an interview. The green card interview can be intimidating. However, as long as you are properly prepared, you can breeze through this step and gain your permanent residency status.
Knowing what the interview process entails is going to put you in a position where you can feel comfortable and confident entering your green card interview. Read through this green card interview guide to find out everything you need to prepare yourself.
Green Card Interview Process
When filing Form I-485: Adjustment of Status or going through consular processing, you may be required to attend an interview before your adjustment of status gets approved and you become a permanent resident. A typical green card interview should take around 15 minutes. Once your interview has been scheduled, you should begin to prepare for the interview itself.
Before attending your green card interview, you should:
- Review all the paperwork related to your residence applications, including the dates of important events, your financial records, and any previous immigration history.
- Update your address on your application if you have moved, along with any other information that may be incorrect.
- Take note of any changes that need to be made to your application and bring documents to support the change, along with preparing an explanation for the change.
When you attend your interview, you should arrive at least 15 minutes early and make sure to dress appropriately. Avoid ragged clothing, flashy jewelry, and clothing displaying controversial pictures and slogans.
At the interview, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer will verify that all your documents are valid and that you are eligible for permanent residency. You will be asked to take an oath to speak the truth, and the officer will then ask you questions about your case to confirm the information presented in your application.
Types of Green Card Interviews
While the general outline of the green card interview will remain the same no matter what type of green card you are applying for, the specific can vary. Let’s take a more in-depth look at the different interviews for a green card.
Marriage-Based Green Card Interview
The main purpose of a marriage-based green card interview is to ensure that the marriage is valid and not just a means of working the system so that the immigrant spouse can remain in the United States and enjoy the benefits of a permanent resident.
A marriage-based green card is the easiest green card to obtain, and the process is fast-tracked, which makes this a desirable path for those looking to become permanent residents.
Because of this, marriage-based green cards are highly scrutinized. If the USCIS officer suspects that you entered into the marriage solely to get a green card, you must attend a second interview.
This second interview is called a stokes interview. In this interview, the two spouses will be separated and asked questions about their relationship separately. If the answers don’t match up, USCIS may deny your green card application and begin deportation proceedings.
Employment-Based Green Card Interview
In an employment-based green card interview, you will be asked questions related to your position in the company, education, and personal history. You typically won’t be asked nearly as many questions as those applying for a marriage-based green card, and your answers won’t be scrutinized as closely.
Your documentation proving your employment is far more important in these applications than the questions asked by the USCIS officer. However, if your answers to these questions do not match up with the information you provided, your application could still be denied.
Family-Based Green Card Interview
While a marriage-based green card is a type of family-based green card, other family members can also obtain a green card using this method. When parents, siblings, or children apply for a family-based green card, the interview process is not nearly as intensive as a marriage-based green card interview.
The family green card interview is to establish the relationship between the sponsor and the permanent residency applicant. You will have to prove that you are related but will not need to show that you have a deep relationship, like with a spouse. This is because a relationship with a parent, sibling, or child is established at birth.
Refugee Green Card Interview
In a refugee green card interview, the USCIS officer will review your case to ensure that you still qualify to be in the country as a refugee.
You will not have to prove your case like when you first applied to come to the country as a refugee. However, if new evidence is uncovered that shows that you obtained your refugee status fraudulently, your application will be denied and deportation proceedings will begin.
Alternatively, if conditions change in your home country and it is determined that it is safe for you to return, your green card application will be denied.
See complete information about “Refugee Green Card & its benefits“.
Asylum Green Card Interview
The asylum green card interview process is the same as the process for refugees. Both asylees and refugees are exempt from being found inadmissible on some grounds that apply to other non-citizens. If an asylum seeker is a public charge or entered the U.S. without the proper documentation, they can not be found inadmissible.
However, the USCIS officer will review your case for other grounds that could cause your green card application to be denied. These include health, criminal, and security-related concerns.
See complete information about “Asylum Green Card & its benefits“.
Special Immigrant Green Card Interview
Special immigrant visas get awarded to foreign nationals who have aided the United States abroad. When you attend a special immigrant green card interview, you should have supporting documents showing your qualifying work to assist the U.S. government.
You should also be prepared to answer questions about your family and your work history that qualified you for a special immigrant visa. They will also likely ask many questions about your personal history to assess whether you have any connections to any individuals or groups that are deemed to be threats to national security.
What Will They Ask at Your Green Card Interview?
The specific green card interview questions you will be asked vary based both on the type of green card you are applying for and your particular circumstances. There is not a set list of required questions that a USCIS officer must ask. Instead, they will review your case and ask relevant questions to determine whether or not you are eligible for permanent residency.
When Will You Have a Green Card Interview?
Your green card interview is one of the final steps in the process of becoming a permanent resident. How long you will have to wait after submitting your application to adjust your status depends on many factors. When your application has been processed, USCIS will contact you to notify you of your interview date and time.
If you are unable to attend your interview at this time, contact USCIS as soon as possible to reschedule your interview. However, it is vital to note that rescheduling your interview can lead to long delays in obtaining your green card.
Does Everyone Get an Interview for a Green Card?
While the majority of green card applicants are required to attend an interview, for some, the green card interview will be waived.
When an applicant is clearly not eligible to receive a green card, USCIS rejects applications for green cards without conducting an interview.
Alternatively, some applicants qualify to skip the interview process and receive their green card without one. However, USCIS has the right to interview anyone even if they qualify for an exemption. Always prepare for a green card interview, even if you don’t ultimately end up attending one.
How to Prepare for the Green Card Interview
The best way to prepare for a USCIS green card interview is by gathering all the required green card interview documents and reviewing all the information provided in your application. When preparing for a green card interview, you can also go over the types of questions that are commonly asked for your type of green card.
You can help your cause further by bringing additional supporting evidence confirming your permanent residency eligibility. Anything you have that backs up your right to obtain a green card can improve your chances of being granted permanent residency.
Documents Required for Green Card Interview
When attending your green card interview, you are required to bring several documents along, including:
- Your valid passport containing your non-immigrant visa, which you used to enter the United States
- A copy of your visa petition
- A copy of your adjustment of status application
- Your advance parole permit, if you traveled outside of the U.S.
- Your medical examination report
- All originals of documents already submitted to USCIS (birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce papers, etc.)
Additional documentation may be necessary depending on the route you are taking to obtain permanent residency. For example, if you are adjusting your status through marriage, you will need proof of your marital relationship. This proof can be documents showing joint bank accounts, shared property rental or ownership, and birth certificates of any children you have.
For an employment-based green card, you need to include an updated letter from your employer showing your employment and salary.
For a family-based green card, you will need proof of your relationship with your sponsor relative, including birth certificates, adoption papers, and photographs.
Who Can You Bring to Your Interview?
Green card applicants who are not fluent in English can bring an interpreter with them to their interview. The interpreter can be a family member or friend rather than a paid interpreter. However, they must be fluent in both English and your native tongue so that they can translate what is said word for word.
Your interpreter must also present their government-issued ID and complete the interpreter’s oath and sign a privacy release statement. You may also bring a lawyer with you if you have any prior legal or immigration-related issues on your record.
For some types of green card applications, you may be required to bring family members along, such as your spouse, when applying for a marriage-based green card.
Green Card Interview Questions
The specific questions you are asked in your green card interview will depend on the type of green card you are applying for, along with your personal situation and the discretion of the USCIS officer. While it is impossible to know exactly what you will be asked, you can prepare for common questions posed in a green card interview.
Marriage-Based Green Card Interview Questions
When attending a marriage green card interview, you can expect to be asked a lot of questions about your marriage to determine its legitimacy. You will be asked questions regarding how you met, your relationship, your wedding, your friends and family, and your and your spouse’s education and employment history.
The questions asked in these interviews can be personal and prying. Some of the commonly asked questions in a marriage-based green card interview include:
- How did you meet?
- When and where was your first date?
- Where was your first kiss?
- When did your relationship become romantic?
- Who proposed marriage and when?
- When did you meet each other’s parents?
- Who takes care of your finances?
- How much money do you have in the bank?
- Do you file your taxes together or separately?
- When is your anniversary?
- When is your spouse’s birthday?
- Do you plan on having children?
- Do you have children from previous marriages?
- Do you regularly attend a religious service together?
- Do you spend a lot of time together?
- What hobbies do you enjoy together?
- What TV shows do you watch together?
- Who does the cooking?
- Who does the cleaning?
- Who buys the groceries?
- Who takes care of home improvement projects?
- Where do you live?
- What cars do you drive?
- What is your spouse’s favorite food?
- What size is your bed?
- What side of the bed do you sleep on?
- Who goes to sleep later?
- When is garbage day at your home?
- How many rooms are in your house?
- What color is your house?
- Do you have an electric or gas stove?
- Do you have a garage?
- Does your spouse take baths or showers?
- Does your spouse have any tattoos?
- Does your spouse have any scars?
- What is your spouse’s favorite sport?
- What is your spouse’s favorite team?
- Did you come to the interview together?
- Who woke up first this morning?
- What did you each have for breakfast?
- Did your spouse take a shower today?
- Did you exchange rings at your wedding?
- Where was your wedding held?
- How many people attended your wedding?
- Who were the groomsmen and bridesmaids?
- Where was your wedding reception located?
- What song played for your first dance?
- What kind of wedding cake did you have?
- Did you have a honeymoon?
- Where did you go on your honeymoon?
- How often do you visit each other’s families?
- What are the names of your spouse’s parents and siblings?
- What is the name of your spouse’s best friend?
- Do you have any mutual friends?
- How do you tend to celebrate holidays?
- Where did your spouse go to school?
- What was your spouse’s highest level of education?
- What extracurricular activities did your spouse participate in?
- Where does your spouse work?
- What is your spouse’s job?
- Where did your spouse work in the past?
- What is your spouse’s income?
Employment-Based Green Card Interview Questions
Employment-based green card interview questions are far less intensive than marriage interview questions. Questions for this type of green card are simply meant to establish that the information you provided in your application is accurate.
Some common questions asked in a green card interview include:
- Who will you be working for?
- What duties will you have in your position?
- What is your salary
- What is your educational background?
You may also be asked several questions about your biographical information included in your green card application. Additionally, if your role at work changes from what was originally listed in your application, you will be asked questions about your new job to see if it still qualifies.
Family-Based Green Card Interview Questions
Family-based green card interview questions can be quite varied. They will largely depend on how you are related to your sponsor as well as any potential issues that could affect your legal status to become a permanent resident. Questions will be asked about:
- How you are related to your sponsor
- Whether your sponsor is a citizen or lawful permanent resident
- If you have a criminal record that disqualifies you from permanent residency
- If you have ever violated U.S. immigration law
- Any connections you may have to a terrorist organization
- If you have an addiction to drugs or alcohol
- Whether or not you have any communicable diseases
Refugee Green Card Interview Questions
While your refugee green card interview will not be nearly as intensive as in your original refugee visa application, you may still be asked some of the questions you were asked at that interview. These questions may include:
- Is there another place in your country where you could live safely?
- Are you afraid to return to your home country?
- Why are you afraid to return home?
- Did you report your persecution to the authorities in your home country?
- Have you returned to your home country since suffering persecution?
- Do you have the status of a lawful immigrant in a third country?
- Have you ever committed a crime in the U.S. or abroad?
- Do you have family in the United States?
- Do you have family in your home country?
Asylum Green Card Interview Questions
The questions that will be asked in an asylum green card interview are likely to be the same type you would be asked in a refugee interview.
Special Immigrant Green Card Interview Questions
You could be asked a wide array of questions when applying for a special immigrant green card. Be prepared for questions on several different topics. You can expect questions about any and all members of your family and your relationship with them. The immigration officer will also ask about your history in your home country, including your educational background.
You will also be asked about your work history, particularly the work you did for the U.S. that made you eligible for a special immigrant visa. The officer will also likely ask questions about anywhere you have traveled and lived. Additionally, they could ask questions about any phone numbers, email addresses, or social media accounts you have used.
If you have applied to immigrate to the United States in the past, you can also expect to be asked questions about that application.
Tips for Your Green Card Interview
When attending your green card interview, there are steps you can take to help avoid potential issues and increase your chances of getting your green card application approved. Some things you should do before and during your interview include:
- Go over your application and all the documents you submitted to make sure you don’t forget anything.
- Make sure that your spouse or other sponsoring family and you are on the same page and that neither of you misremembers key events or facts about your relationship.
- Prepare and bring along any extra evidence that supports your case that was not included in your original application.
- Be honest throughout your interview. It is essential to answer any questions asked as honestly and precisely as possible, even if the questions are very personal.
Steps After the Green Card Interview
After your green card interview, there are three possible answers you could receive from USCIS. These outcomes are:
- Approval of permanent residency
- Denial of permanent residency
- Request for additional evidence
A request for additional evidence could mean a second interview or simply the submission of additional documents for USCIS to review. If extra evidence is requested, USCIS will inform you of how to provide that evidence. If your application gets denied, you may be able to appeal the decision or reapply from the beginning, depending on the reason for the denial.
If your permanent residency is approved, all you need to do is wait for your green card to arrive in the mail.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Green Card After the Interview?
If you were in the country when applying for your green card and submitted Form I-485: Adjustment of Status, you should receive your green card within 30 days of receiving your approval notice.
If you applied for a green card while outside of the country, through consular processing, you should get your green card within 45 days of your arrival in the United States.
A Step on the Path to U.S. Citizenship
Getting a green card can provide you with many rights and benefits. For some people, permanent residency is an end goal, while for others, it is a significant and necessary step on the path to becoming a U.S. citizen.
Whether looking to become a citizen or simply stay in the country as a lawful permanent resident, an immigration solutions company like ImmigrationDirect can help. We can provide you with the resources you need to ensure that your green card application gets filed correctly and make sure that you are ready for your green card interview.