Many of our marriage visa clients and prospective clients, often want to know what actually happens at the final Marriage adjustment of status Interview. I try to describe and explain as best as I can, and often wish I could actually record the interview, but of course we are not allowed. So I have decided to take one of my Law Clerks, Andrea with me to one of the interviews. At the conclusion of the interview, she wrote in detail the sequence of events:
The immigration office in Chula Vista opens at 7:00am. Even that early on a Thursday morning there is already a long line at the door. Since our client has an appointment, we are able to walk right in after first showing identification and passing through security. The office itself is bright and bustling with televisions showing the news and signs in different languages on the walls. There is an edge of nervousness in the air as people apply for or wait on the results of their visa and citizenship applications.
As we sit in the waiting area, the attorney prepares his client for her interview. She has applied for a green card based on her marriage to an American citizen. This interview will determine whether she is approved or denied. The attorney explains what the interview will be like and what types of questions the interviewer will ask. Most of the questions will be about the couple’s marriage and relationship. It is important for the interviewer to see that the marriage is based on a real relationship, and is not just a scheme to obtain citizenship. One last check to make sure all the documents are in order, and we are called to the interview room.
Our interviewer has a reputation for toughness. He is stern, direct and gets straight to the point. He asks for documents showing evidence of the couple’s shared life, in this case a bank statement from a joint account. He asks for photos of the couple’s wedding, one photo of the priest performing the ceremony and one group shot of the whole family. He staples the photos into his file with the rest of the documents. The interview itself has two parts. For the first part, the interviewer asks specific questions to both husband and wife. How did you two meet? Where did you go on your first date? When did you move in together? How did you propose to her? He asks the husband, “How do you plan to support your wife?” and looks over financial documents.
For the second part of the interview, the questions are directed only to the applicant herself. The interviewer tells her, “Only you can answer these next few questions, not your husband, not your lawyer.” It’s intimidating, but the questions are fairly simple. Where were you living when you two met? Where were you working at the time? What type of visa allowed you to be here? What are your plans once you get your green card? Again, the interviewer is stern, and it’s impossible to tell what he is thinking. Only a few more hoops to jump through.
Finally, the interview is coming to a close. One final step is to run the applicant’s information, photo and fingerprints through the Department of Homeland Security’s IDENT database. No red flags. Everything has checked out fine. At long last the interview tells the applicant, “I am approving you for a green card.” He reminds her that the approval is on a temporary basis pending authorization from his supervisor, which shouldn’t be a problem. He stamps her file, and we all breath a sign of relief. The applicant is issued a temporary identification which she will use until she has received her green card in the mail. Her old visa will remain with the interviewer.
We walk out of the office feeling happy and relieved. The interview was short, no longer than twenty-five minutes. It’s hard to believe that after all the planning and anticipation, it’s finally over. The couple has made it over a major hurdle in the Green Card process. They leave ready to move on with their lives together. They now have a 2 year conditional Green Card and will need to file a new application to remove the conditions in 2 years, hopefully they will still be together at that time. As for the attorney, it’s back to the office to meet with his next client.