Obtaining a Green Card is neither quick nor easy. If you are like most people, you will be very excited when your interview notice finally arrives. At the same time, you may feel anxious about your upcoming interview. While not all Green Card interviews are the same, they usually follow a general format. Being well prepared for your interview will give you peace of mind and increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.
When you receive your interview notice, it is crucial that you read it carefully as it will direct you exactly WHEN (date and time) and WHERE (location) your interview will take place. The interview notice will often include a general list of documents that might not always apply to you completely. It’s recommended to bring the original document of every copy you submitted in your application. You will be instructed to bring an interpreter if you do not speak English fluently.
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Preparing for Your Immigration Interview
As we mentioned above, coming prepared to your interview is very important. If you come organized and prepared you will likely feel more comfortable on the day of the interview. Here are some general tips:
We always recommend to our clients to visit the USCIS field office where your interview will take place prior to the day of the interview (preferably at the same time of day). Make sure you know where the building is, how long it takes to get there, parking, security and so on.
Dress business professional. No need for a suit and tie, but it is best to dress professional, respectful and comfortable.
Get there early (but not that early!)- We always recommend arriving at your interview at least 45 minutes before your scheduled time. Due to Covid-19, most USCIS field office will not let you actually enter the building more than 15 minutes before your scheduled time, however- it’s better to get there early and wait outside the building than to be late.
Read your applications and be familiar with all the questions and answers on them- you will be asked questions from your applications, it helps to prepare and review them.
Organize all required documents in a binder with dividers for easy access during your interview – It reduces stress levels when you can easily find and access a document you are asked to provide the officer with.
Consider scheduling a prep session- If you do not have an attorney representing you- you should consider scheduling an interview prep session with an immigration attorney. An experienced attorney can review your applications and supporting documentation, conduct a mock interview and really prepare you for what to expect at your interview.
Common Immigration Interview Questions in 2021
Aside from organizing your documents, knowing what sort of questions you can expect to be asked will help you prepare for your interview. Answer all questions fully, succinctly and truthfully, but do not volunteer information unless asked. If you’re unsure of the answer or do not understand a question, you should always say so rather than guess.
The interview will start with the USCIS officer greeting you and introducing themselves. You should do likewise. They might ask, “How are you?” or something similar. Many will make small talk, such as commenting about the weather. Most people report that their USCIS interviewer was friendly, but there are exceptions. The officer will explain the purpose of the interview.
Before going to your interview, be aware that you will be asked to swear an oath. When instructed, raise your right hand and wait until instructed to say the following: “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?” You might be asked if you understand what an oath is. It is essential to know that lying under oath is a crime and can make you ineligible to receive a Green Card.
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You can expect questions asking basic personal information such as:
- What is your full name?
- When is your birthday?
- Where were you born?
- What is your race?
- Are you Hispanic or Latino?
- What is your current address?
- What is your phone number?
Should you apply for a marriage-based Green Card, expect to be asked these questions about your spouse, too.
It might seem strange to be asked questions about your physical appearance when your interviewer can easily see you. Nonetheless, you might be asked questions such as:
- How tall are you?
- What color are your eyes?
- What color is your hair?
- What is your weight? (Don’t lie, though it might be tempting!)
Be prepared to answer questions about your family. Should you apply for a marriage-based Green Card, there might also be questions about your spouse’s family. Typical questions include:
- What is your mother’s maiden name?
- -in-law or father-in-law’s first name?
- Is your mother or father a U.S. citizen?
- How many children do you have?
- Where were your children born?
- Is your child your biological, adopted, or your spouse’s?
Related: Frequently Asked Questions
When applying for a marriage-based Green Card expect questions, some of which might ask about small details or be quite probing, about your relationship with your spouse. You and your spouse might even be questioned separately. Relationship questions for other types of Green Cards are usually more basic. Officers can ask a vast range of questions, but here are some examples:
- How, where, and when did you meet your spouse?
- Where did your first date take place?
- How long did were you with your spouse before getting married?
- When and where were you married?
- Did you go on a honeymoon? If yes, where did you go?
- What is your spouse’s current job?
- What do your parents think about your spouse?
You could be asked questions about any military service, either in the U.S. military or another country:
- Have you ever served in the United States military?
- When did you register with the Selective Service? (if you are male)
- What rank did you hold when you served in the military of [name of your home country]?
Your interviewer will want to know your immigration history and if you have maintained legal status:
- Are you a legal resident or citizen of a foreign country? If so, which country?
- Have you ever worked in the United States without authorization?
- Have you ever violated the terms and conditions of your visa?
You might be asked about foreign travel. Be aware that travel to certain countries (generally those considered hostile to the U.S., such as Iran) might trigger more scrutiny. Have an explanation ready about the purpose of your travel. Possible general questions include:
- What foreign countries have you visited in the past ten years?
- When did you last travel outside the U.S.?
- How long was your last trip outside the U.S.?
Make sure you know where you lived and when. While it might be hard to remember every detail, especially if you have moved around, think and answer thoroughly. Possible questions include:
- Where do you currently live?
- How long have you lived there?
- Where else have you lived during the past five years?
- Have you moved since you submitted your application?
- What places have you lived since the age of sixteen?
Education and employment
You should expect to answer quite a few questions about your education and employment if your Green Card application is employment-based. While people with family-based applications do not usually answer as many employment-related questions, that is not always the case. Some types of careers and jobs, such as those that appear political, might trigger more questions. Typical questions include:
- Where do you work?
- Where else have you worked in the past five years?
- What is your salary?
- What is the name of the last school you attended?
- What did you study at the last school you attended?
USCIS officers often request to see tax returns, even if that is not listed on your interview notice as one of the documents you should bring. You might be asked questions about your tax history, such as:
- Do you owe any taxes to a local, state, or federal government?
- Have you ever failed to file a tax return when you were legally obligated?
To be eligible for a Green Card, you must be of good moral character and uphold the laws of the U.S. Possible questions you might be asked include:
- Have you ever claimed to be a citizen of the United States of America?
- Have you ever attacked, discriminated, or denied another person’s rights based on their nationality, race, religious beliefs, orientation, or political opinion?
- Will you obey the laws of the United States?
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Affiliation with Certain Organizations
Form I-485 asks for a list of any organizations you are affiliated with, and you might be asked the same questions during your Green Card interview. Technically, USCIS means any organization, even very innocuous ones such as the Boy Scouts. Specifically, USCIS is looking to see if you are a member of an organization that could be considered a threat to the U.S. Memberships in some groups, such as terrorist organizations or the Communist Party, could make you ineligible to receive a Green Card. Typical questions include:
- Have you ever been associated with or a member of any organization, association, fund foundation, party, club, or similar group?
- Have you ever been associated with or a member of the Communist Party, the Nazi Party, or a terrorist organization?
You are required to disclose any criminal record on Form I-485, and you must bring documentation with you to your interview if you have any such history. You might be asked questions such as:
- Have you ever been arrested?
- Have you ever committed a crime without being charged?
The USCIS officer is allowed to ask you questions about any topic, even those you might find to be overly personal, such as what method of contraception you use. You are allowed to say if you feel a question is too personal, but be sure to decline politely, even if you find it rude. Such questions are more typical during marriage-based Green Card interviews. Some other unusual or personal questions you could be asked about include:
- Was anyone drunk at your wedding reception?
- What do you and your spouse typically argue about?
- Where do you keep spare toilet paper?
Tips for Your Immigration Interview
(Be on time, wear nice clothing, act normal — not overly nice or uncomfortable –, be organized with your paperwork, talk to your attorney, etc.)
How an Immigration Attorney May Help with Your Interview?
An immigration attorney can help you prepare for your interview. They advise you on what to expect, given your circumstances, write a letter on your behalf to bring to your interview, and even accompany you. You should especially consider consulting an attorney if your case has any complicating factors such as visa overstays, memberships with organizations that might invite scrutiny or a police record. With marriage-based Green card applications, it is good to consult an attorney if there are significant differences in your ages, education level, cultures, or religion because those factors often trigger more questioning.
Brudner Law is experienced in many areas of immigration law. Visit us today to see how we can help you.