When a non-citizen gains U.S. citizenship by marrying a U.S. citizen, it’s referred to as an immigration marriage. Most non-citizens enter the country via a fiancé visa. The U.S. has strict laws governing immigration marriages to reduce immigration marriage fraud. Immigration marriage fraud refers to entering into a fraudulent, or fake, marriage with the intent to deceive the immigration authorities.
To determine whether the couple married for love or citizenship, the married couple must take part in a marriage interview. A marriage interview, also called the green card interview, tests the legitimacy of the marriage and provides the non-citizen with permanent residency status.
The marriage interview involves an immigration officer asking both spouses questions. Another immigration officer observes the couple as the answer questions. The second officer is trained to detect fake marriages. If the immigration officer believes there is any deception, the couple receives a second interview. The second interview is tougher.
Review Ahead of Time
Prior to the interview, its vital the spouses look over paperwork submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The immigration officer conducting the interview will look at the documents to determine if the spouses are lying.
Spend Time Discussing Circumstances and Facts Surrounding the Relationship
The USCIS wants to know things like:
- How the spouses met
- How the relationship developed
- How the spouses visited or corresponded
- When the spouses corresponded or visited each other
- Why the couple decided to get married
- Details about the wedding, if married
- Details about the couple’s future plains, if still engaged
A couple’s answers shouldn’t sound rehearsed. There shouldn’t be too much disagreement either. Couples are known to disagree about who attended the wedding or birthday gifts, but this can also look bad. When couples don’t have the correct answers, it can make the immigration official suspicious.
Always answer questions honestly and to the point. For example, if the immigration officer asks the number of child, then give the exact number. Don’t go into detail about their names or birth order. If the immigration officer wants to know that information, he’ll ask.
Dress in Appropriate Attire
Immigration officials are looking for any sign the couple has a sham marriage. The couple’s attire should be:
Don’t wear T-shirts or jewelry with symbols and slogans that make immigration officials wonder about morals or lifestyle.
Preparing for the Stokes Interview
When a couple doesn’t convince immigration officials their marriage is real at the first green card interview, the couple will be called to attend a second interview. The second interview, called the Stokes interview, is sometimes referred to as the fraud interview. Prior to conducting the second interview, the immigration officer may inform the couple why the first interview didn’t go well. The couple will be interviewed separately.
The immigration officer will ask very invasive, personal questions. The interview is recorded. The statements in the first and second interviews will be compared. The goal is to look for any discrepancies. The Stokes interview takes several hours to complete. Once each spouse is asked questions separately, they complete another interview together.
Preparing for the Stokes interview requires bring all original documents, such as marriage certificates and joint bills. It’s better to organize them and make copies.
Consulting an Attorney
It’s always best to prepare for a marriage interview by consulting an immigration attorney. An attorney will review documents and conduct mock interviews. The purpose of conducting mock interviews is to familiarize the couple with the entire interview process.
Authored by Taelonnda Sewell, LegalMatch Legal Writer