Your Green Card Interview – Everything You Need to Know

Your Green Card Interview – Everything You Need to Know

If you are here, then your Green Card application has probably been approved and you’ve been notified of your interview appointment. Congratulations, you are one step closer to your dream! Now what you have to do is focus on preparing for the meeting with a USCIS officer or consular officer, so that you can ace your visa interview. 

In this post, we will provide you with practical Green Card interview tips, including what to wear, as well as some potential interview questions you may be asked. Follow our interview preparation post to feel more confident on the day of your scheduled Green Card appointment.

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The Green Card interview appointment notice

After the approval of your permanent status application, you will receive an appointment notice for your interview. 

If you are currently in the United States and have submitted an Adjustment of Status application, you will be notified of your interview by the USCIS and your interview will be conducted by one of the USCIS officers at their local office.

However, if you are outside of the United States, your entire permanent status application is being handled through consular processing. You will receive an appointment notice after the National Visa Center approves your petition, and your interview will be held at a U.S. embassy or consulate in your current country of residence. 

Below we will go over a couple of different scenarios for a permanent status interview including marriage-based and employment-based Green Cards.

Preparing for your marriage-based Green Card interview 

The marriage Green Card category is one that undergoes the most scrutiny due to numerous annual attempts at marriage fraud. The interview is always very meticulous and, for some, more inquisitive than for others. 

Those petitioners who are in the United States will have to attend the USCIS interview together. Whereas for the applications handled via consular processing, only the immigrant spouse must be present at the U.S. embassy or consulate for their interview. So, regardless of whether you attend the interview alone or together, how exactly should you prepare for it?

Prior to the interview – a memory refresh 

Since you’ve probably been together for a couple of years, you may not remember all the details of your relationship such as dates of events or trips you have taken together.

It is recommended that you review all of your relationship milestones prior to attending the interview to make sure nothing is forgotten or omitted.

The USCIS or consular officer will also ask you questions regarding the information included in your immigration forms, so it’s best to go over them more than once.

Prior to the interview – collect the documents

This is a very important aspect of your interview as well as your entire green card petition process. 

Remember to gather all the necessary documents, including the immigration forms you submitted to the U.S. government:

  • Form I-130
  • Form DS-260 and DS-261 or Form I-485
  • Form I-693 (your medical examination)
  • Form I-765 (if applicable);
  • Form I-131– application for Advance Parole (if applicable);
  • birth certificates
  • marriage certificate
  • passports
  • any divorce documents and/or death certificates (if applicable).

Also, be sure to provide proof to testify the authenticity of your relationship: 

  • photos
  • messages
  • trip itineraries
  • phone records 

Other documents you’ll want to include might be your children’s birth certificates, joint income tax returns, joint property ownership documents, joint  bank statements, and joint insurance policy documents. 

The marriage Green Card interview – questions 

The interview serves as the main grounds under which an immigration officer determines whether a couple’s marriage is genuine and whether the immigrant spouse qualifies to obtain a U.S. Green Card. Sometimes immigration officials may ask very personal questions – it’s their job to establish the authenticity of your relationship and make sure that no marriage fraud is being committed. 

If you and your spouse are in the U.S., you may be interviewed together, but not necessarily. Sometimes immigration officers may decide that you should be interviewed separately in a so-called “Stokes” interview (a reference to the Stokes vs. INS case). Your answers will then be reviewed and scanned for any inconsistencies. 

You may be asked any of the following:

  • How did you meet?
  • Where did you go on dates in the beginning stages of your relationship?
  • How long did you date before getting married?
  • Was there a proposal? How and where did your spouse propose to you?
  • Were you married before?
  • What is your spouse’s birthday?
  • What is your mother’s maiden name? What is your spouse’s mother’s maiden name?
  • Where was your wedding held?
  • Who attended your wedding?
  • What food was served at your wedding?
  • Was there anything significant that happened at your wedding?
  • Did you have a honeymoon? If yes, where did you go?
  • What are some of your daily activities?
  • Do your parents like your spouse?
  • Do you get along with your in-laws?
  • What does your spouse do for a living?
  • What’s your spouse’s salary?
  • Who is responsible for chores around the house? Who is responsible for the cooking? Cleaning? Doing laundry?
  • What time does your spouse go to sleep? What time do they wake up?
  • What side of the bed does your husband/wife sleep on?
  • What pajamas does your spouse wear?
  • Does your spouse take any medications? If yes, what kind?
  • Do you celebrate important events/anniversaries? How do you celebrate?

If you have kids together, you will be asked questions about them as well, for example:

  • When were your children born?
  • Where do your kids go to school?
  • Do you drive your kids to school? How do they get there?
  • Who are your kids’ friends?
  • What are your kids’ favorite activities? Do they have any hobbies?
  • Do your kids participate in any extracurricular activities?

Keep in mind that the above questions are very likely to be asked, however, depending on your individual case, your interviewing immigration official may also ask you some additional questions regarding other details of your life together. 

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Preparing for your family-based Green Card interview 

Family-based immigration is divided into two categories:

  • immediate relatives such as spouses, children (under 21), and parents of U.S. citizens;
  • family preference which includes unmarried children (aged 21 and older) of U.S. citizens, spouses and unmarried children (aged 21 and younger) of permanent residents, unmarried children (aged 21 and older) of permanent residents, married children of U.S. citizens, and brothers/sisters of U.S. citizens.

Each application will be processed according to its category’s preference, with unmarried children of U.S. citizens having priority.

Regardless of when your particular petition is processed, eventually, your family member will be called in for an interview. If they are in the United States, their interview will be conducted by a USCIS officer, and outside the United States, it will be with a consular officer at an embassy or consulate. 

Keep in mind that minors are often exempt from attending an interview.

Prior to the interview – collect the documents 

Just like in the case of all other permanent resident interviews, those applying in the family category cannot attend their interview empty-handed. Some of the documents may vary depending on the beneficiary (for example married children over the age of 21, brothers or sisters, or parents of U.S. citizens). However, the following are likely to be asked to be presented at the interview:

  • Form I-130;
  • Form DS-260 and DS-261 (if applying from outside the U.S.) or Form I-485 if adjusting status with the USCIS;
  • Form I-864;
  • Form I-765 (if applicable);
  • Form I-131– application for Advance Parole (if applicable);
  • birth certificate (both the sponsor’s and the beneficiary’s);
  • marriage certificate (if the beneficiaries are your parents);
  • passport/passports;
  • divorce decrees (if the beneficiaries are your parents)
  • a copy of the sponsor’s Naturalization certificate or U.S. passport (if born outside of the U.S.);
  • the beneficiary’s most recent I-94;
  • 2 (two) passport-style photos of the sponsor;
  • 4 (four) passport-style photos of the parents;
  • tax transcripts from the last 3 (three) years, W2 forms, and pay stubs from the last 6 (six) months (the sponsor);

The family Green Card interview – questions

Family members of U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents will be asked some questions regarding their relationship to the sponsor as well as their personal and professional life.

The immigration officer will also want to verify that the information included in your immigration forms corresponds to your answers. You may even be asked about your eye and hair color, height, weight, and so on. Some interviews may be longer than others if the immigration officer deems it necessary to probe deeper into the case. 

A typical interview for family-based petitions may consist of the following questions:

  • Do you have any diseases that may pose a threat to public safety?
  • Do you have any mental or physical disorders that may pose a threat to the safety of others or to yourself?
  • Are you or have you ever been addicted to drugs or alcohol?
  • Have you been arrested?
  • Have you ever been convicted for a crime or even a minor offense?
  • Have you ever violated the law in any way?
  • Are you related to anyone who has violated drug trafficking laws?
  • Do you intend on engaging in prostitution in the United States?
  • Do you intend to engage in espionage or any illegal activities in the United States?
  • Do you intend to engage in terrorist activities in the United States?
  • Have you or anyone you are related to ever been involved in money laundering?
  • Have you ever been involved in a human trafficking-related offense?
  • Are you related to anyone who has been involved in a human trafficking-related offense?
  • Have you ever taken part in genocide or human torture?
  • Do you belong to a totalitarian or communist party?
  • Have you ever forced a woman to get an abortion against her free will?
  • Have you ever been or are you in the military?
  • Are you trained in the use of firearms, nuclear or biological weapons, explosives, and such?
  • Have you ever been denied entry to the United States?
  • Did you graduate from a foreign medical school and do you seek to engage in medical work in the United States, but haven’t passed the National Board of Medical Examiners test?

As absurd as some of the above questions may sound, they are among the most commonly asked Green Card interview questions. Other, more down-to-earth questions may be given as well:

  • How would you describe the relationship between you and the sponsor (son, daughter, brother, sister, mother, father)?
  • Have you ever been to the United States?
  • How often do you talk to your mother/father/son/daughter/brother/sister?
  • Where do you work/go to school? (if applicable)
  • How long have you been retired? (if applicable)

Preparing for your employment-based Green Card interview

Now that we have covered the family-based category, which is the most commonly submitted permanent status application, let’s focus on employer-sponsored Green Cards. 

Similarly to the previous category, your interview will either take place via consular processing (at the U.S. embassy or consulate) if you are abroad or at a USCIS office if you are inside the United States

So, how do you prepare for an employment-based green card interview? 

Prior to the interview – collect the documents 

Whether adjusting your status in the U.S. via Form I-485 or applying for an employment-based permanent status card from outside of the U.S., you will need to gather all the other necessary paperwork to bring with you to the interview, including original documents and copies. 

Make sure to have the following: 

  • I-94 record
  • original birth certificate
  • old and current passports with any U.S. visa stamps (if applicable)
  • a government-issued ID (such as a driver’s license)
  • medical examination (Form I-693) 
  • EAD (Employment Authorization Document) and AP (Advance Parole) OR a combined EAD and AP card 
  • Form I-140 approval notice (if applicable)
  • proof of your non-immigrant status (I-797 approval notices, visa stamps, I-20s)
  • letters from your previous employer 
  • job offer from your U.S. employer (your sponsor) with an overview of your job duties and a signed Form I-485 
  • pay stubs from the last 2 (two) months
  • tax transcripts from the last 3 (three) years 
  • photocopies of any diplomas, certificates, and any other educational/training documents. 

The employment Green Card interview – questions 

Since the employment-based Green Card interview is more straightforward than a marriage-based one, the questions will be almost entirely related to your professional life. However, the immigration official will also ask you questions that will seem obvious in order to verify the information included in your immigration paperwork. 

Employment-based permanent status applicants may be asked the following or similar questions:

  • Where did you go to school? What is your educational background?
  • What special skills or certifications do you have?
  • What is your current job? What are your job responsibilities?
  • Who are you going to work with in the U.S.?
  • What do you expect from your U.S. job/employer?
  • What is your current salary?
  • What are the duties and salary of the job profile included in your I-140 petition?

Again, the above questions are examples of what may be asked of you at your permanent resident interview. Keep in mind that it all depends on your individual circumstances – you may also be given questions that are related to your particular case in more detail. 

Green Card interview – dress code 

Having covered the preparation for a Green Card interview in terms of paperwork and questions, let us move on to appearance. How do you dress for a Green Card interview?

Well, it is an official interview held at a government location (whether at a USCIS office or U.S. consulate or embassy), so your best will be to dress formal as if you were going to a job interview. Business casual is always a good option in this type of scenario.

Here’s a list of items women can go by when putting together a business casual outfit for a Green Card interview:

  • conservative-cut shirts and blouses
  • belted cardigans
  • simple, knee-length or below-the-knee dresses (no cleavage)
  • tasteful jewelry, nothing excessive 
  • black/dark closed-toe shoes. 

For men, business casual outfits may include:

  • collared butt-up or button-down shirts (always tucked in) or polo shirts
  • slacks or khakis
  • sweaters
  • black/dark closed-toe shoes (for example, loafers)
  • minimal jewelry such as a watch (no chains, rings, bracelets, nothing over the top).

What you shouldn’t wear to your permanent resident interview:

  • jeans 
  • any distressed clothing (shirts, jackets, dresses) – an absolute no-no
  • flip flops/sandals
  • gym clothing or athleisure 
  • sneakers
  • skimpy clothing.

You get the idea – you should dress respectfully and nicely for your interview. Make sure that your clothing is clean, without creases or (even the smallest) stains, rips, and so on. You have to feel comfortable as well, so it’s best to prepare your outfit well ahead of time.

Interview tips 

The best tip we can give you about your permanent resident interview is to really take the time to prepare and go over all your documents – apart from the more inquisitive questions about your daily life, you will be asked the same questions you answered in your immigration forms. Make sure you know everything so that you don’t contradict yourself. 

Another very important thing is to be as honest and truthful as possible. If there are two people being interviewed, as it may occur in marriage-based cases, you have to be on the same page with your answers.

For example, if you get asked about who is responsible for the cooking in your household, don’t say that you are if it’s mostly your husband. While it’s important to remember the dates or at least the year an important event in your life took place – if you can’t recall something, just be honest and say that you don’t remember. 

If you still feel very stressed out and feel like you’ll need backup, you can also reach out to an immigration lawyer to attend the interview with you. However, in this case, you will have to let the lawyer talk for you and answer all the questions on your behalf.

You can share any confidential or sensitive information with your attorney since they are obliged to an ethical duty of confidentiality as a means to protect the attorney-client relationship.

This duty can be broken, however, in exceptional situations, including danger to the attorney, the client, or others.

Green Card photo – Passport Photo Online 

Now that we’ve reached the end of our Green Card interview preparation, we’d like to give you a tip on where to get your Green Card photos. Passport Photo Online is an intuitive passport and visa photo tool, equipped with a precise AI system, and it lets you take all your document photos from home. Not everyone has the time to drive or take the subway or the bus to a pharmacy or photo studio to have their photos taken. Sometimes it may be the weather too – who wants to run around in the rain looking for a place to take their photo (and ruin their hair at that)?

Here is what you have to do to get your Green Card photo with Passport Photo Online:

  • upload an already existing photo or take a new one with the app’s built-in camera;
  • let the AI system run a preliminary verification check on your photo;
  • you will be notified about whether your image passed the initial verification check;
  • at this point, you can purchase the photo and if it’s approved for compliance by our human expert, you will have your images emailed to you;
  • if the photo contains any errors, you will be sent a link to retake your photo or upload a new one – there is an unlimited number of retakes and you pay only for the final, approved version.

Each photo is carefully scanned for errors and cropped to the correct dimensions (2” x 2” for the green card photo). The background is removed and precisely replaced with a white one. You are guaranteed that your image will get approved by the USCIS, and if not – you’re entitled to a double refund.

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The Green Card interview – FAQ 

How long after the interview can you get your Green Card?

So basically there isn’t any exact timeline of how long it takes. If you’ve applied for the Green Card through the naturalization application, the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) should let you know within 120 days from the interview about their decision.

What kind of questions do they ask at a Green Card interview?

The questions may differ depending on your application and way of applying. For example, if you’re applying through marriage to a US citizen, USCIS will ask you questions about your relationship and marriage, how you met, how long have you dated etc. They will also ask you basic questions about yourself to make sure you have provided the right information.

What happens if you fail your Green Card interview? 

If you somehow fail your Green Card Interview, it is pretty likely you won’t get approved for a  Green Card. However, you can apply again.

How can I pass my Green Card interview?

The best tip we can give you is to be yourself at the interview. Provide legitimate and true supporting documents and be honest during the interview. If you have any doubts about the application or you’re not sure if you’ve provided all the right answers, you can address your concerns at the beginning of the interview. They will let you modify your answers and review any questions you didn’t understand.

Why would a Green Card Application be denied?

There are many reasons why your Green Card Application can be denied. It can be because of false information in the documents you have provided, there might be something wrong with your Green Card photo, or you just simply don’t qualify for a Green Card.

The Citizenship and Immigration Services doesn’t inform you about your application being denied or about the reason why, so you should focus on the application and make sure every information you have provided is true.

How long is a Green Card good for?

A Green Card (also known as the Lawful Permanent Resident Card) is valid for 10 years. Although you need to renew your Green Card every 10 years as an ID, it doesn’t affect your right to stay in the US.

Can permanent residents be deported?

Lawful Permanent Residents can be deported in cases in which they have committed certain crimes. In such cases when the Green Card holder has applied for the Marriage Green Card, they can possibly be deported if the sponsor files for annulment of the marriage.

How can I get US Citizenship for free?

You can request a fee waiver for Form N-400 (The application for US Citizenship). The fee waiver application is form I-912, which you need to submit together with the Green Card application and supporting documents.

What is the fee for citizenship?

At the moment the naturalization process costs about $725. This means the cost of the form N-400. There is also a fee for biometric services, but for example, taking your passport photo yourself can reduce the costs.

How much does a Green Card cost in 2021?

It depends on the way you’re applying. The costs of a Green Card application may go up to even $4,000. If you’re only renewing your Green Card, the renewal fee (for form I-90) is about $540. You can also apply for a fee waiver for the form N-400 (The application for US Citizenship). The fee waiver is applied with the form I-912. You need to submit the fee waiver together with your Green Card application and supporting documents.

The Green Card interview – summary

Applying for permanent residence in the U.S. is a very tedious and costly process, and you should only do it when you genuinely intend to legally live and work in the country, thus contributing the society. 

The interview will be the most important aspect of the entire petition, as this is when you’ll be able to show and prove to the immigration authorities that you are interested and qualified to become a permanent resident of the United States. 

The questions asked at the interview will range from those regarding your personal information, family history, and criminal record, to questions about your intentions upon arrival in the U.S. If you’re applying for permanent residence based on marriage, you will be asked questions about your relationship and previous marriages, and these questions may get very detailed and personal. 

The most important thing is to be honest and let the interviewers know that you’re truly eligible for a U.S. Permanent Resident Card.

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