How to Prepare For Your Immigrant Interview Or Hearing

No matter how much preparation is made for the interview for the Form I-130 relative petition and/or Form I-485 adjustment applicant, if the spouses are not living together, discrepancies in their answers to the same detailed questions would belie the existence of good faith marriage that is required to obtain lawful permanent resident status.

A trained and experienced U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) District Adjudication Officer (DAO) can frame and ask questions separately of the U.S. citizen petitioner and of the alien beneficiary to determine whether good faith marriage and shared life exist. Documents of shared life, photographs of the spouses before, during, and after the wedding, even joint income tax return(s) may not be sufficient. They can be easily produced, even as the spouses are not actually living together.

The interviewing Immigration Officer has to be convinced that the spouses got married because they love each other, and are living together as husband and wife. No more, no less. How do trained, experienced District Adjudication Officers or Assistant District Counsels of the Department of Homeland Security make this determination? By your answers to their questions during the interview or cross-examination in the Immigration Court.

Categories Of Common Questions Asked And Intensity of Questioning By DAOs:

This Author has personally attended the interviews and hearings of thousands of clients with the legacy INS and the USCIS and the Immigration Courts. The common questions asked by DAOs and Assistant District Counsels can be categorized as follows:

(1) questions before the wedding;

(2) questions on the wedding;

(3) questions after the wedding;

(4) questions on living together;

(5) questions on work;

(6) questions on the family of each spouse;

(7) questions on special occasions;

(8) questions on personal possessions.

If the alien beneficiary is not in removal (previously called deportation) proceedings, the Form I-130 Petition and the Form I-485 adjustment (green card) application are filed concurrently and adjudicated (decided) together by the assigned DAO. And if at the time of the interview, the marriage is less than two (2) years old, the grant of the Form I-130 petition and the Form I-485 application would result in Conditional Residence (CR) for the alien for two (2) years.

Within ninety-days (90) of the second anniversary of the grant of the CR, the spouses should jointly file Form I-751, Removal of Conditions on Residency, or unilaterally if separated, divorced, or widowed. There is a second interview for the Form I-751 application.

Thus, the questioning is not as intense, if the marriage is less than two (2) years. Similarly, the questioning is not as intense, if the alien is not in removal proceedings. The questioning is most intense, if the alien got married after he or she had been placed in removal proceedings by service of a Notice To Appear (NTA) before an Immigration Judge. Clear and convincing evidence, not mere fifty-one percent (51%) of the preponderance of the evidence, is required for adjustment in case of marriage during removal proceedings.

Questions On Facts And Events Before The Wedding:

In this category, the common questions asked are as follows:

(1) When and where did you first meet?;

(2) If a common friend introduced you to each other, what is his or her full name?;

(3) On what occasion were you introduced, and who were present on that occasion?;

(4) When and where was your first date?;

(5) How many dates did you have before you proposed?;

(6) When and where did you propose?;

(7) When and where did you meet each others parents and members of the family?;

(8) What are their names and approximate ages, occupations?;

(9) What gifts did you give each other before the wedding?;

(10) When and where did you ask the parents of your bride permission to marry her?;

(11) Did you have a wedding planner?;

(12) If so, give her full name, address, and how much he or she charged both of you for his or her services?; and

(13) When and where did you live together before the wedding?

Questions On And After The Wedding And Honeymoon:

In these categories, the common questions asked are as follows:

(1) When and where were you married?;

(2) Who married you?;

(3) Who are the persons who attended the wedding?;

(4) Were photographs taken during the wedding?;

(5) Where is your photo album?;

(6) Where was the wedding reception?;

(7) Who attended the wedding reception?;

(8) How much did you pay for the wedding ceremony?; for the wedding reception?;

(9) Where and when was your honeymoon?;

(10) How much did you spend for your honeymoon?;

(11) Where did you get the money for your wedding?; for your honeymoon?;

(12) What activities did you do during your honeymoon?;

(13) Where did each of you work at the time of the wedding?;

(14) What was the name and telephone number of your supervisor?; and (5) What was your job description and salary during your wedding?

Questions On Facts And Events On Living Together:

In this category, the common questions asked are as follows:

(1) Look at me (DAO) in my eyes, and can you say that you married your spouse for love, and not for a green card?; or for money you were paid?;

(2) Where did you live right after your wedding?;

(3) Where do you live now?;

(4) If you are renting, give the name and phone number of your landlord?;

(5) How much is your monthly rent?; Who pays for it?;

(6) If it is an apartment, how many bedrooms are there?;

(7) If you are renting a room in a house, who are the other tenants?;

(8) What is your telephone number at home?; your cell phone number?;

(9) Are you renting a furnished apartment?;

(10) Describe the furniture in your apartment?;

(11) If you furnished it, where did you buy the bed?; for how much?; how was it delivered?; who paid for it?;

(12) What part of the bed do you sleep?; what part of the bed your spouse sleeps?;

(13) What do you wear for sleeping?; what does your spouse wear for sleeping?;

(14) Do you cook?;

(15) What did you cook last night?; what is your favorite food?; what is your spouse’s favorite food?;

(16) Describe the color of the tile in your bathroom?;

(17) What is the make and length of your TV in your bedroom?;

(18) How do you pay your rent?; utilities?;

(19) What kind of credit cards do you have?; your spouse has?;

(20) Did you file joint income tax returns?;

(21) Do you have joint bank account(s)?; where?; how much is the current balance?; and

(22) What is the distinguishing feature of your rented house?; apartment building?

Questions On Work And The Family Of Each Spouse:

In these categories, the common questions asked are as follows:

(1) Where do you currently work?;

(2) Give full name and telephone number of your supervisor?;

(3) What are your job duties?;

(4) How much salary do you currently make?;

(5) Do you have benefits at work such as medical/dental insurance?;

(6) What are your work hours?;

(7) How do you get to work?;

(8) Where does your spouse currently work?;

(9) What is the full name and telephone of his or her supervisor;

(10) What kind of work does your spouse do? How much salary does he or she makes?;

(11) When did your alien spouse start to work?;

(12) Who are the parents of your spouse?; where do they live?;

(13) When was the last time both of you visited your in-laws?;

(14) How old are your in-laws?;

(15) If your in-laws are working, what do they do?;

(15) Who are the brothers and sisters of your spouse?;

(16) If your in-laws did not attend your wedding, what was their reason for not attending?

Questions On Special Occasions And Personal Possessions:

In these last two (2) categories, the common questions asked are as follows:

(1) What did you do during the last birthday of your spouse?;

(2) What gift did you give him or her for his or her birthday?;

(3) What did you do for your last wedding anniversary?;

(4) What gift did you give to your spouse during your last anniversary?; (

5) What did you do last Valentine’s Day?;

(6) What gift did you give each other?;

(7) What did you do last New Year’s Eve?;

(8) What did you do last Christmas?;

(9) What Christmas gift did you give your spouse?;

(10) Does your spouse own a vehicle?; what is its make and year?; what is its color?;

(11) Are you in the insurance policy of your spouse’s car as an authorized driver?

(12) Do you own a car?;

(13) Does your spouse drive your car?;

(14) Is your spouse in the insurance policy of your car?;

(15) Does your spouse have life insurance?;

(16) Who is the beneficiary in your spouse’s life insurance policy?;

(17) What is your spouse’s favorite jewelry that he or she wears more often than others?

Ultimately, the truth usually comes out after intense interrogation: good faith marriage or marriage fraud, punishable as a federal felony with imprisonment for up to five (5) years and $250,000.00 fine under INA Section 275(c).

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(The Author, Roman P. Mosqueda, has practiced immigration law for over twenty (20) years.)

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