If you're newly-married to a U.S. citizen and seeking a green card, how much do you need to worry about the marriage interview?
If you or your spouse is a foreign national, there are a lot of steps on the road to your future life together. However, the marriage interview with Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) is one of the most anxiety-producing of those steps -- it may even make you a lot more anxious than your own wedding did! Here is some information that you can use to get through the process more easily.
Why Is It So Important To Be Prepared?
INS has an obligation to make sure that your marriage is real -- not something that you're involved in just for the sake of the green card that gives you the legal right to be in the United States. If INS isn't convinced or finds evidence the marriage is a sham, the foreign-born spouse faces deportation. The U.S. spouse faces potential criminal charges!
What Type Of Questions Should You Expect?
Unfortunately, you can expect the questions to be uncomfortably personal in nature, so be prepared. Remember that the INS agent is just doing his or her job, so remain calm and polite -- even if the questions are intrusive. Common questions include:
- How did you meet? Did you begin the relationship yourselves or was this a match arranged by your families? Who helped facilitate the match?
- What made you decide that this relationship was the right one for you?
- Where was the wedding? Who attended it? Who performed it? Do you have photos or other documentation?
- When did the relationship turn sexual or romantic in nature?
- What do you and your spouse do together for fun or relaxation?
- What is your spouse's birthday? What are your spouse's favorite foods?
- How do you manage the finances? How do you divide household chores?
- What social or church gatherings do you attend together?
Take your time with the answers and give as many details as you can. The clearer you are, the less reason that an interviewer has to think you are lying.
What Is The INS Interviewer Wanting To Hear?
There are no "right" answers here -- only wrong ones. In other words, it's perfectly acceptable if your marriage was arranged by your families if that's the custom in your culture. What the interview is looking for is evidence that the wedding isn't a secret that you are keeping from friends or family members -- something that's common in sham marriages. Because you and your spouse are interviewed separately, INS is also checking the consistency of your stories.
It's often a good idea to talk over the potential issues that could arise at the marriage interview with your immigration attorney. Family law attorneys who work in that field often have unique insights into the expectations of the local INS officials.