It’s not uncommon for a United States citizen to begin and continue a relationship with an individual that does not have permanent residence in the U.S. For your immigrant spouse to live, work, and pursue higher education in the U.S., they must obtain a marriage-based green card. One of the most stressful parts of this process is the interview. Immigrant officials will conduct it to verify the validity of the marriage. These officials will ask you a series of marriage-based green card interview questions and verify any forms and documents submitted in the petition. The primary purpose of this entire process is for officials to verify and confirm that the marriage isn’t a sham to elude U.S. immigration laws and gain immigration benefits. We’ll go over immigration marriage interview question samples, tips, and more in this post.
What is a Marriage-Based Green Card?
A spouse can obtain a green card for an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen. A green card for your immigrant spouse is more commonly known as a marriage-based green card and has special immigration priority.
This green card grants the immigrant spouse permanent residency in the U.S., which allows them to live, work, and study in the U.S. legally. Additional green card benefits include being able to:
- Travel in and out of the U.S. (as long as each trip is less than a year)
- Obtain a driver’s license
- Apply for social security
This marriage-based green card, which immigrant spouses should carry at all times, is valid for ten years. However, it can be renewed no less than six months before expiration for the immigrant spouse to maintain their legal residency.
Marriage-Based Green Card Interview Questions 2022
Your interview process will begin the moment you walk into the USCIS office. When walking into the building, officers will look at the demeanor of both parties as individuals and as a couple from the moment they enter the building until the time they leave.
You will be placed together in an interview room, and an officer will begin directing questions for you both to answer as individuals or as a couple. The interview usually lasts an average of 15-20 minutes, and the questions are relatively straightforward.
Below are a few sample categories and marriage-based green card interview questions that each partner in a relationship should know about one another. Please note that these sample questions are not definite, and an immigration officer can ask questions not listed below.
How You Met
These are questions about how your relationship started and progressed before being married. It’s essential to display that you and your spouse established a relationship and fell in love before being engaged and then married.
- Where did you meet?
- How were you introduced?
- What did the two of you have in common?
- Where was your first date?
- When was your first date?
- Where was your first kiss?
- When did your relationship turn romantic?
- How long was it before you decided to get married?
- Who proposed to whom?
- Why did you decide to have a long or short engagement?
- When did you meet each other’s parents?
Questions about your wedding are common. Your wedding day is a special day that most couples cherish. You should be able to account for many details of that day.
- Did you exchange rings at the wedding ceremony?
- Who bought the engagement rings?
- What kind of ring did your spouse by you?
- How many people attended your wedding?
- Did each of your parents attend?
- Where was the wedding held?
- Who were the bridesmaids/groomsmen?
- Did you have a reception?
- Where was the reception?
- What kind of cake was served at the reception?
- What was the song played during your first dance?
- Did you have a honeymoon?
- Where did you go for your honeymoon?
- How many days did you spend on your honeymoon?
- Who picked the honeymoon location?
- What did you do on your honeymoon?
- Where did you live after the wedding?
These questions usually deal with the intimate details of your marriage. Most married couples discuss these topics at least in the first year.
- Who takes care of the finances?
- When is your spouse’s birthday?
- Have you ever been on vacation together?
- Do you attend church?
- When is your anniversary?
- Do you plan on having children?
- Do you have any children from previous marriages?
- Do you live together or plan on living together?
- Do you spend a lot of time together?
- What hobbies do you enjoy together?
- What restaurants do you enjoy going to together?
- Where do you live?
- What cars do you drive?
- What do you like to do on your days off?
- Who cooks?
- Who cleans?
- Who does the laundry?
- What medications does your spouse take?
- When is garbage day at your home?
- Does your spouse drink coffee in the morning?
- Who does the grocery shopping?
- What is your spouse’s favorite food?
- What size is your bed?
- How many rooms are in your house?
- How many bathrooms are in your house?
- What do you have in your backyard?
- How many cars do you have?
- What kind of car does your spouse drive?
- Who does home improvement in the house?
- What side of the bed does your spouse sleep on?
- Who goes to sleep later?
- Does your spouse read or watch TV before bed?
- Does your spouse take baths or showers?
- What TV shows do you watch together?
- Does your spouse have any scars?
- How did you spouse get the scar?
- Does your spouse have any tattoos?
- Do you file your taxes separately or together?
- What is your spouse’s favorite sport to play?
- What is your spouse’s favorite sports team?
- Did you come to the interview together?
- What did each of you have for breakfast today?
- Who woke up first today?
- Did your spouse take a shower today?
- Do you share a closet? On what side of the closet is your spouse’s clothes?
- What color are the curtains in your house?
- Do you have a grill? Is it gas or coal?
- Do you have a gas or electric stove?
- Do you have a garage? how many cars fit in your garage?
- Does your refrigerator make ice, or do you use ice trays?
- Does your refrigerator have a water filter, or do you drink tap or bottled water?
- Do you regularly attend church, mosque, temple, or other religious location with your spouse?
Friends and Family
- Have you met each other’s families?
- How often do you see each other’s families?
- When was the last time you saw them?
- How do you typically celebrate holidays? For example, do you spend Thanksgiving with one family and Christmas with another?
- How many brothers and sisters does your spouse have? What are their names?
- Does your spouse have any nieces or nephews?
- Do you have mutual friends?
- What’s your spouse’s best friend’s name?
- Where did your spouse go to school?
- Did they go to college?
- What did your spouse major in?
- What did your spouse get a degree in?
- Was your spouse a good student?
- What extracurricular activities were your spouse involved in?
- Who is your spouse’s employer?
- How long has your spouse been working there?
- What is your spouse’s position?
- Where did your spouse work prior?
- Where is your spouse’s employer located?
- What is your spouse’s career goal?
- What time does your spouse go to work?
- When does your spouse get home from work?
- What is your spouse’s salary?
- How much money do you have in savings?
It’s understandable and expected that the marriage-based green card interview will make you nervous or stressed out. Before and while answering immigration marriage interview questions, you should utilize the tips for immigration marriage interview questions listed above to be a few steps ahead.
Stokes (Marriage Fraud) Interviews
If your interview has raised any suspicion when answering marriage-based green card interview questions, the officer will ask you to come back for a second interview. Increased suspicion can stem from hesitating to answer questions, having different answers, and simply not being able to answer the questions.
At a marriage fraud interview (also known as a stokes interview), an officer will place both spouses in their own interview room and interview each separately. An immigration official will ask the same questions to each spouse and then compare the two sets of answers to see how well they match.
Unfortunately, USCIS will likely deny your case if each spouse has different answers to the same questions. For example, if the immigration official asks each of you the date of your wedding and one says June and the other says July, that will further suspicion that your marriage is fraudulent. In addition, if the immigrant spouse is in the United States, they will be placed into removal proceedings for possible deportation back to their home country.
You will also likely need to provide the following documents if you have not already:
- Marriage certificate
- Passport for the immigrant spouse
- Bank statements
- Receipts for rent/mortgage payments
- Regular bills
- Proof of citizenship for sponsoring spouse
- Photos of the two of you
- Active insurance policies
- Employment evidence and pay stubs
Each case is different, so you may need to provide more or less than the above list. But, again, your marriage visa attorney will be able to help you prepare for a Stokes interview or help you avoid one in the first place.
Stokes Interview Questions
You want to avoid a Stokes interview. However, if you find yourself in one and your relationship is legitimate, stick to the facts and remain calm. Making facts up is the quickest way to sabotage your efforts.
Here are some questions you may receive during a Stokes interview. Note that these are particular and in-depth questions intended to catch fraudulent marriages. If your marriage is legitimate, you should have little trouble answering these questions, though newer relationships may have difficulty. Just remember to remain calm and honest throughout the interview.
- When and where did you meet?
- What types of vehicles do you drive?
- Which one typically rises earlier in the morning?
- Who sleeps on which side of the bed?
- Who does most of the cooking?
- What kind of pets do you own, if any?
- How often do you eat out?
- How is your living room arranged?
- Which one is in charge of the finances?
- What do you both typically eat for breakfast?
- What is your spouse’s favorite food?
- What is your nightly routine before going to bed?
- What cell phone provider does your spouse use?
- What types of entertainment do you both enjoy?
- What are some of the brands you use? (e.g., toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, etc.)
This list is not exhaustive. Your immigration officer may ask you some, all, or none of these questions. They only serve to provide an idea of the level of depth USCIS may subject to you during your Stokes interview.
Are You Prepared for Your Interview?
Marriage-based green card interviews are held at a USCIS office and conducted by a trained immigration official. The interview usually takes place between three to four months after you file the petition with USCIS. Therefore, you may want to gather any additional documents that show proof of the relationship for your interview during this time.
Remember that the primary purpose of this interview is to confirm the validity of your relationship. Therefore, take the time to review your relationship in its entirety with your spouse. It’s normal for you to forget things about your marriage, but you can work together to jog each other’s memory before the interview.
They are also looking to see if the U.S. citizen in the relationship can support the immigrant spouse. Your spouse will need to submit an affidavit of support to show that they have adequate means of financial support and are not likely to rely on the U.S. government financially.
Going through a process as tedious as a green card interview is not something you should do alone. If you have any questions or concerns before the interview, consult your immigration attorney.
Tips for a Marriage-Based Green Card Interview
We know how stressful the interview process can be, so take a look at these top tips to make the best of your situation.
- Be punctual for your scheduled interview by arriving at least 30 minutes before.
- Wear professional and/or conservative clothing. You want to give the impression that you are taking this interview seriously.
- Be prepared to answer all types of questions.
- Come with a calm and organized demeanor because immigration officials look for red flags that indicate fraud. Looking flustered and nervous looks will raise their suspicion.
- No need to memorize facts. It can make the couple sound rehearsed, which is a red flag. Immigration officials understand that you won’t remember every tiny detail about your marriage. If you’re unsure or don’t know, say it. It is always better to say you don’t know than lie. Not knowing might lead to having your green card denied, but lying or other fraudulent behavior might lead to barred access to the U.S. altogether. However, you should be able to answer simple questions about your marriage.
- Act normally; not overly affectionate or uncomfortable. This in-authenticity is a red flag, so you both should be yourselves and act normal.
- Don’t panic if you are separated. If USCIS moves you and your spouse to separate rooms, remain calm and honestly answer the official’s additional immigration marriage interview questions.
- Remember to bring the necessary paperwork, any necessary forms and any proof of your relationship. This can be wedding or vacation photos or bank statements.
- Confide in your attorney. Your attorney will know your case inside and out and make you feel more prepared by addressing all your or your spouse’s concerns.
- Review additional resources to feel more confident about the marriage-based green card interview.
How Can You Obtain a Marriage-Based Green Card?
Here is a comprehensive list of the items required to apply for a green card:
- Petition for Alien Relative (USCIS Form I-130)
- Application to Register Permanent Residence (USCIS Form I-485)
- Biographic Information (USCIS Form G-325A)
- Affidavit of Support (USCIS Form I-864)
- Permission for Work Authorization (Optional) (USCIS Form I-765)
- Medical Examination Results (USCIS Form I-693)
- Request for Travel Documents (Optional) (USCIS Form I-131)
- The appropriate supporting documents
If you are a U.S. citizen within the country through lawful admission/parole, you will need the following:
- File Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative
- Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust status
If you are a citizen outside the U.S.:
- File Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative
Conditional Marriage-Based Green Card
So your green card petition was approved. The only problem is that it’s a conditional marriage-based green card. No need to panic; this doesn’t mean that you answered your marriage-based green card interview questions wrong.
If your marriage is less than two years old at the time of approval, USCIS will give you a conditional rather than a traditional marriage-based green card.
A conditional marriage-based green card cannot be renewed and is only valid for two years. In those two years, the immigrant spouse must prove that they did not get married fraudulently to enter the United States and illegally disregard immigration laws.
Ninety days before your conditional marriage-based green card expires, you can file a petition to remove the conditions.
To remove the conditions on a green card based on marriage, you must file Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence.
If USCIS doesn’t remove these conditions, you will no longer be a permanent resident of the U.S. after the granted two years. In addition, if you remain in the U.S. after the expiration of your green card, you will be at risk of deportation.
Biometrics Services Appointment
After filing a marriage-based green card petition, you will need to appear at a biometric services appointment to provide any requested fingerprints, photographs, and signatures.
You will receive an appointment notice (Form I-797C). The I-797C will include the date, location, and appointment time at a local Application Support Center (ASC).
A biometric services appointment aims to confirm your identity and run required background and security checks.
At the time of the appointment, USCIS requires the applicant to confirm that the filed petition was complete, accurate, and correct at the time of filing by providing a digital signature.
After the Marriage Green Card Interview
Once you’ve completed your marriage-based green card interview, you’ll have to wait for the USCIS to approve your petition. Unfortunately, there isn’t a defined time for marriage green card approvals, making the waiting process even more stressful.
A few weeks from the interview date, you may receive the news that USCIS either granted or denied your green card. It can take longer if your file is undergoing an additional security review. If your petition is approved, USCIS will return your passport to you with the conditional green card printed inside, allowing you and your spouse to enter the U.S. as legal permanent residents.
You and your spouse can check the status of your green card case by entering your case number into the USCIS Case Status Search.
Marriage-Based Green Card Cost
Like most green cards and visas, the marriage-based green card has certain unavoidable filing costs associated with it. Here is the breakdown:
Benficiary Out of the U.S.
Benficiary In the U.S.
How Long Will the Green Card Take to Process?
Once you send in your I-130 petition, you can expect to receive a notice of receipt from the USCIS within two weeks. After that, it will usually take an average of 11 months to receive an answer on whether or not it was approved. However, it could take substantially longer or shorter depending on the caseload, the service center that is processing your petition, and your case’s complexity. In addition, this step can be significantly delayed if the USCIS issues a Request for Evidence (RFE).
If your petition is approved and you are outside of the U.S. under no visa status, you can schedule a consular interview at the U.S. consulate or embassy in your home country. This can be scheduled out a few weeks to a few months before the appointment.
If you are currently under a U.S. visa status, you can choose to adjust your status through the I-485 form, which takes six months to process. However, after your I-485 is approved or your consular interview is concluded favorably, you will immediately be granted lawful permanent resident status. Your green card should arrive in the mail within six months.
All told, your marriage-based green card timeline can take as little as seven months or as long as two years depending on your route and situation. A marriage visa attorney will help you determine more accurately what you can expect as a processing time.
Marriage Green Card Related Topics
- Marriage-Based Visa
- Fiance K-1 Visa
- Children of U.S. Citizen K-2 Visa
- Spouse of U.S. Citizen K-3 Visa
- Guide to Renew Green Card After 2 Years
- What Happens to Green Card After Divorce
- Top Tips for Sponsoring a Family Member Green Card
- J-1 Visa to Marriage Green Card
- Getting a Marriage-Based Green Card With a Criminal History
- F-1 Visa to Marriage-Based Green Card
- How to Prove Your Marriage is Bona Fide for a Green Card
- Can I Work While Waiting for a Marriage-Based Green Card?
- Marriage-Based Green Card Denial
- Green Card Through Marriage Document Checklist
- Marriage-Based Green Card Timeline
- Obtaining Citizenship Via Marriage