Green Card Interview Guide
The United States green card categories can be broadly divided into three types: family-based, employment-based, and special immigrant green cards. Each type has its different interview intricacies. The general purpose of interviews for any of these three types is to determine an applicant’s eligibility and admissibility. As you read on, you will learn the requirements and how to prepare for each of these categories.
Family-Based Green Card
Family-based green cards are for immediate family members or other relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. You may qualify for a U.S. family-based green card if:
You Are Engaged to a U.S. Citizen
If you are the fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen, you stand a very good chance of becoming a green card holder after your marriage. You will begin the process by applying for a K-1 fiancé(e) visa. If approved, you will be allowed to come to the United States and get married to your fiancé(e) within 90 days of the approval.
And after your marriage, you can apply to adjust your status by filing for a U.S. green card with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Your U.S. citizen fiancé(e) will need to sponsor your visa application by filing an I-129F with the USCIS, after which you will complete the second phase of the process by submitting a nonimmigrant visa application at a U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country where you will be given a K-1 nonimmigrant visa.
You Are an Immediate or Preference Relative of a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident
If you are the child under the age of 21 or spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR), you may be eligible for a family or marriage-based green card. A “preference relative” such as a sister, brother, or parent may also qualify for a family-based green card. The U.S. citizen or green card holder must be ready to sponsor your petition and satisfy the requirements to meet your financial needs.
For immediate relatives such as children and spouses, the application process is relatively easier and takes less time. For preference relatives, however, you may experience a longer waiting time that lasts for years due to the green card limit for this category.
Employment-Based Green Card
The employment-based green card category is for foreign nationals who meet the requirements to live and work in the United States through their occupation. Most of the classifications in this category require a series of important steps which include getting a job offer from a U.S. employer, obtaining a PERM certification from the U.S. Department of Labor, and filing a green card petition. Generally, the application is filed by the employer petitioning the USCIS and DOL to bring the alien to the U.S. for employment purposes. Green cards under this category include:
First Preference EB-1 Green Card
Foreign nationals with extraordinary abilities, professors, researchers, distinguished academics, and international executives may qualify for a green card under this category. There is a long list of requirements that must be met in order to be considered eligible.
Some of these requirements include having documented achievements and/or distinguished awards by recognized bodies such as a Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Olympic medal. Membership of a professional association and having high-profile publications covering your achievements in a particular field can qualify as supplementary criteria.
Second Preference EB-2 Green Card
The EB-2 green card is meant for professionals holding an advanced degree (or its equivalent) or those who possesses exceptional talent. Certain applicants may also be able to obtain a National Interest Waiver (NIV), which allows them to bypass the PERM Labor Certification and sponsorship requirements.
Third Preference EB-3
The EB-3 green card is for skilled workers with a minimum of 2 years of training or experience, professionals with at least a U.S. baccalaureate or its equivalent, and unskilled workers with two years of training or experience in unskilled labor.
Fourth Preference EB-4 Green Card
This is for special applicants, such as religious workers, broadcasters, G-4 or NATO employees and their family members, and others listed here.
Investment-Based EB-5 Green Card
This is for individuals who can invest $1 million or $500,000 in the U.S. economy. It is popularly known as the fifth preference EB-5 investor program. You don’t need a sponsor to petition for this category, but there are several criteria you must fulfill apart from having the investment funds. Your proposed investment must also have the potential to create or preserve a minimum of 10 jobs.
Special Immigrant Green Cards
Certain individuals such as asylees, refugees, human trafficking victims, and other special immigrants may qualify for green cards under this category.
General Guide for Green Card Interviews
Regardless of the classification you are applying for, the green card interview is a necessary and final step of the process. Each of the categories has its own interview guidelines which are crucial to the success of your application.
Family and Marriage-Based Green Card Interview
The main essence of any family-based green card is to prove the legitimacy of the relationship between an alien beneficiary and the petitioner. The green card type will determine the kind of interview questions you are to expect. Fraud is commonplace in family-based and marriage-based green card cases, so immigration officers usually ask personal questions to ensure applicants are in good faith.
Common Family and Marriage-Based Interview Questions
The family-based green card interview questions will likely focus on the history of your relationship and the things you share in common as a family. The questions may cover:
- Where and when you met as a couple
- Your children
- Your parents’ consent to your relationship
- The kind of home you live in
- Your biographic information
- Your siblings
- Your in-laws
- Important celebrations in your family
- Education history
- Information about your employment
A family-based green card interview usually involves both the petitioner and beneficiary and may be a group interview for the whole family (or couple) or separately for each individual beneficiary on the application.
Required Items for Family and Marriage-Based Green Card Interviews
The requested documents may vary based on the classification you are applying for. However, some of the general materials to take to a family or marriage-based green card interview include:
- Your valid passport
- The interview appointment letter
- Two color passport photographs
- Employment and travel permits
- Proof of your relationship – such as a marriage certificate
- Evidence showing your relationship is legitimate – e.g. utility bills or titles in your names, group photos, etc
- Financial evidence showing the petitioner’s income
- Signed affidavit of support from the petitioner
- Medical exam results
- Any other documents listed on the USCIS or consulate website for your green card classification.
Employment-Based Green Card Interview
The employment-based green card interview works to establish the authenticity of the information you have provided in your forms and supporting evidence. The questions will generally focus on:
- Your education, training, and job experience
- Salary, remuneration, job condition for the new employment
- Your current resident status if you are already in the U.S.
- The company you are going to work for
- Your admissibility, such as previous, conviction, arrests, immigration violations, or misrepresentations
Required Items for Employment-Based Green Card Interview
Depending on the classification, every employment-based green card applicant must come with documents that prove they are qualified for the job, have gone through due process, and are admissible into the U.S. Some relevant items to prove that at the interview will include:
- Your unexpired passport
- Two color passport photographs
- Your medical report
- A letter for a job offer
- Your Employment Authorization EAD, if applicable
- Your academic certificates
- Your birth and marriage certificates
- A government-issued identification
- Letter from your employer confirming your employment
- Documents showing tax payments
- An I-4845 Supplement J, Confirmation of Bona Fide Job Offer or Request for Job Portability, if applicable
- Any additional documents listed on the USCIS or embassy website
How to Prepare for Your Green Card Interview
The interview is often a very short process that lasts no longer than 20 minutes. However, preparing well before the interview date will help you be successful. Your confidence, appearance, and communication skills will go a long way during the general assessment. The following tips will help you:
Review Your Forms and Documents
Most of the questions will be asked based on your submitted application to ensure all information provided in your petition is genuine. Reviewing the documents will help you refresh your memory and answer any questions given to you without hesitation.
Revealing clothing, shirts with symbols or slogans might damage your rapport with some officers, and that may affect their assessment of you. You need to be professional and conservative in your dress and your appearance.
Get to the Appointment Early
Ensure you are already at the interview location 15 to 20 minutes before the appointed time. Rushing to your interview at the last minute may cause you to appear disorganized and may affect your communication. Get there early to avoid being late and having to rush.
Your green card interview is not an interrogation, it is just a normal question and answer session. You don’t need to panic. Looking nervous and disorganized might be a red flag for the officer.
How Our Immigration Attorneys Can Help
The U.S. green card application process gets more stringent by the day due to recent changes to immigration guidelines. Filing for U.S. permanent resident status requires every sense of caution and thoroughness. This is why you need an expert guide to help you avoid errors and red flags that could lead to denial.
At Immi-USA, we have highly qualified and experienced green card attorneys who will help you file your petition, give legal representation at your interview, and help you avoid delays and denials. You can schedule a consultation with us today by filling out this contact form.