New York Lawyer's Legal Updates

How to Pass Immigration Marriage Interview

Author: Family Visas Lawyer Alena Shautsova

Do you believe that because your marriage is real you will be able to pass the Immigration interview without preparation? Let’s practice. Can you, without thinking more than 2-5 seconds about the answer, give answers to the following questions, and then ask your spouse if you got it right:

  • Date and place of your marriage?
  • Where did your spouse live when you guys met and prior to the meeting with you?
  • How many sleeping places do you have in your residence? (Be prepared that an Immigration officer will expect a definite answer without your questions as to what a sleeping place actually means…)?
  • Names of your spouse’s parents and their location?
  • What is our spouse’s favorite food? Favorite color?
  • How much money does your spouse make?
  • How much is the cell phone bill?
  • What side of the bed your spouse sleeps on?
  • How many times your spouse goes to gym?
  • When was the last time you guys went out?
  • What color are the window treatments in your bedroom?

Those are simple questions that often asked at the time of the interview, but there are more advanced ones that are being asked if an officer suspects marriage fraud. Usually, a couple interviewed will be in the same room and the interview will look more like a conversation between the officer and the spouses. Both spouses must know each other’s biographical information; place where they met; date of the marriage and each other’s day-to-day activities. For interracial spouses, it is important to be prepared for "uncomfortable" questions regarding differences in race, religion, and cultural preferences. Be prepared to demonstrate photos of your life, including wedding pictures; cell phone records and evidence of common residence.

The situation gets really tricky when an officer believes that the couple is engaged in fraudulent marriage. In New York, the interview is called Stokes interview. During this procedure, the spouses are questioned separately, for several hours and the questions get more detailed such as: how many birth marks does your spouse have and their places?; what is the location of the laundry bin in your house/apartment?; how many steps does your porch have?; what are the garbage pickup dates?

Regardless of the procedure, an Immigration interview is quite a stressful event. It is important to take it seriously, as its success determines couple’s future in the United States. It is advisable to bring an attorney with you, or at least to consult with one prior to attending the interview. It will help to vent any legal and/or factual issues, and obtain confidence necessary to pass the first step towards citizenship.

04 June 2014
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