I-485 Adjustment of Status Interview FAQ

Everything you want to know about a marriage green card interview at USCIS

Updated on September 8, 2020

Interview is a standard part of the process for a marriage green card through I-485 adjustment of status application. You should be excited because the I-485 interview is likely the last step in your green card application process. If all goes well at the interview, USCIS will grant you permanent residence (green card). Actually, many applicants received their physical green cards within two weeks after the interview. So let’s get prepared for the interview through the following topics.

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1. Who attends the I-485 adjustment of status interview?

As the I-485 interview notice indicates (see sample below), both of you and your spouse must attend the interview because your green card application is based on marriage. It is not mandatory to bring your kid(s) in common with you. However, it is a plus that you bring the kid(s) to the interview.

I-485 Interview Notice Sample
I-485 Interview Notice Sample

2. Should we bring an interpreter to the green card interview?

Although the interview notice says “If you do not speak English fluently, you should bring an interpreter.”, it is not required to bring an interpreter to the interview because USCIS now have phone interpreting service. At the interview, the USCIS officer will ask you which language you’d like to speak, then the officer will dial in the interpreter over the phone. If the interview is conducted with an interpreter, you should not answer questions in English even if you understand some English because that will confuse the interpreter and the USCIS officer as well.

3. How long will the green card interview take?

The I-485 interview itself will take around 30-60 minutes. However, the waiting time for the interview will be another 30-90 minutes. Besides, getting to the USCIS office itself may be a long trip for you; made longer by the fact that you should leave plenty of time to get there.

You will not, however, be let into the building until close to the time of your appointment. Usually, arriving there 30 minutes earlier is recommended.  Nevertheless, cutting it close on timing and missing the appointment can result in either long delays or USCIS presuming that you mean to abandon your application.

4. What documents to bring to the green card interview?

The I-485 interview notice gives you a general instruction about what documents to bring. However, the notice is just a standard one used to all types of I-485 interview. In other words, it is not a customized interview checklist for a marriage green card interview. Here we prepare a checklist good for most marriage green card interviews:

Checklist

Original to bring?

Extra copy to bring?

I-485 interview notice

Yes

No

Certificate of Birth for child in common

If available, yes

Yes

Spouse’s basic documents

Spouse’s valid U.S. passport

If available, yes

No

Spouse’s Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship

If available, yes

No

Spouse’s U.S. Certificate of Birth

If available, yes

No

Spouse’s valid green card

If available, yes

No

Spouse’s valid driver license

If available, yes

Yes

Applicant’s basic documents

Applicant’s passport (current and expired one(s) with any U.S. visa)

Yes

No

Applicant’s Employment Authorization Document (EAD, current and expired one(s))

If available, yes

Yes

Applicant’s Advance Parole (current and expired one(s))

If available, yes

Yes

Applicant’s valid driver license

If available, yes

Yes

Applicant’s SSN card

If available, yes

No

Applicant’s birth certificate

Yes

Yes

Applicant’s I-693 medical exam report (if never submitted to USCIS or the former one has been expired)

Yes

No

Documents related to Applicant’s immigration status in the U.S., i.e. I-94 record, I-20s, all I-797 approval notices, etc.

No

If available, yes

If Applicant has ever been arrested, a certified copy of court final disposition or certified letter from the court to indicate no charge has been filed, no matter the charge has been dismissed or expunged.

Certified copy

No

Documents to prove legitimate marriage

Marriage Certificate

Yes

Yes

Termination document for all previous marriages of Spouse (i.e. divorce decree/judgment/certificate/death certificate)

If available, yes

Yes

Termination document for all previous marriages of Applicant (i.e. divorce decree/judgment/certificate/death certificate)

If available, yes

Yes

Documents to prove bona fide marriage

·         pregnancy proof

·         joint federal and state tax returns

·         most recent 3-month joint bank account statements

·         most recent 3-month joint credit card statements

·         joint lease

·         evidence of joint ownership in car, real estate or other assets

·         jointly liable mortgage or loan

·         family-plan health, dental or vision insurance policy

·         joint vehicle insurance policy

·         utility bills in both names

·         life insurance, 401k or retirement account indicating one spouse has made the other a beneficiary

·         air tickets for joint trip

·         wedding photos

·         20-50 photos with families, friends, etc. in different events

·         other documents to prove the marriage is bona fide        

·         Sworn affidavits who well know your martial relationship if you don’t have many documents listed above

Tips:

·         Bring as many as you can;

·         Except sworn affidavits, bring copies only;

·         Print or copy on letter size paper;

·         Do not use staples, paperclip or binder clip is good;

·         Highlight important information in each document, like name, address, date, document type, etc.;

·         Photos can be printed on photo paper or regular letter size paper, write date, name or relationship and place on each photo;

·         Organize them together and submit to the USCIS officer at the interview.

Documents to prove Applicant will not likely become a “Public Charge”(unnecessary to bring because the new public charge rule has been suspended temporarily) 

·         Spouse and/or Applicant’s most recent federal tax return

·         Spouse and/or Applicant’s most recent W-2s, 1099- MISCs

·         Spouse’s most recent two pay stubs or income checks

·         Applicant’s most recent two pay stubs or income checks

·         Documents to prove Spouse’s ownership interest in any real estate property, or other assets, and loan and/or mortgage documents

·         Documents to prove Applicant’s ownership interest in any real estate property, or other assets, and loan and/or mortgage documents

·         Most recent statements for Spouse’s bank accounts, retirement accounts, stock accounts, or other accounts with cash values

·         Most recent statements for Applicant’s bank accounts, retirement accounts, stock accounts, or other accounts with cash values

·         Applicant’s credit report with score within 30 days

·         Applicant’s existing medical insurance policy with information of premium or annually deduction

·         Applicant’s highest education diploma

·         Applicant’s license or certificate of occupational skills

·         Applicant’s I-140 approval notice

·         Applicant’s bankruptcy resolutions if ever filed bankruptcy

·         Documents related to any public benefits that Applicant ever received, certified or withdraw

·         I-797 receipt notice(s) that USCIS ever granted fee waiver to Applicant

Tips:

·         No need to bring extra copy if some of them duplicate with the above list;

·         Some of them may be not applicable;

·         Bring copies only;

·         Print or copy on letter size paper;

·         Do not use staples, paperclip or binder clip is good;

·         Highlight important information in each document, like name, address, date, document type, etc.;

·         Organize them together and submit to the USCIS officer at the interview as requested.

If any document you plan to bring is not in English, you must bring its original language copy and its certified English translation. A certification by translator shall be attached to the translation.

As you may, there are bunch of documents you need to bring to a marriage green card interview. Frustrating thing is that some of documents are really tricky. As such, it is advisable to have an experienced immigration attorney to give you more specific suggestions based on your situation.

5. Any dressing code for the interview?

Treat the interview like a court appearance or job interview. That starts with the way you dress. Avoid flashy jewelry and body art that might lead a USCIS officer to make negative presumptions about you or your character. Dress professionally or semi-professionally. Wear wedding rings if you have ones.

6. Will the couple be separated at the I-485 interview?

Generally, the couple will not be separated at the first I-485 interview. So you and your spouse will be interviewed in front of the USCIS officer together in his or her office. If the USCIS officer suspects your marriage, you will receive another interview notice which happens after 6-24 months from the first interview. The second interview is usually called the Stokes interview. You and your spouse will be separated at the Stokes interview for sure.

7. What kind of questions will be asked at the I-485 interview?

At the beginning of the interview, the USCIS officer will ask both of you to stand up and swear in. By taking this oath, you’ve promised to tell the truth, and the consequences are significant for lying to a USCIS officer.

Next, the USCIS officer will verify identification documents of you and your spouse, such as driver license, proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residence, birth certificate, passport and marriage certificate. All the original documents will be returned to you.

In addition, the USCIS officer will verify the information and supporting documents you and your spouse provided in the application forms. The officer will go through with you almost every question in your I-485 form, including YES or NO questions in the last several pages of Form I-485.  Your spouse will be asked some of questions related to him or her in the Form I-130. Thus, it is very important that both of you thoroughly review the Form I-485 and I-130 and their supporting documents before your green card interview.  If any of information has been changed or updated since your filing of the application, include new job, new address, the birth a child, it is a good time to disclose such change to the officer.

At the interview, the USCIS officer will also want to know your love story and personal information not included in the forms, for example:

  • How, when and where did you meet your spouse?
  • How you develop your relationship?
  • When did you and your spouse decide to get married? Was there a proposal? Who proposed? When and where did it take place?
  • Did you and your spouse live together prior to your marriage? Where and how long?
  • When did you and your spouse move in together?
  • When and where did you get married?
  • Did you and your spouse held a wedding reception? Or go on a honeymoon? If yes, where?
  • Why did you divorce with your ex?
  • Who lives at your address now?
  • What is your spouse’s date of birth?
  • What’s your spouse’s phone number?
  • What type of work does your spouse do?
  • How much is spouse’s salary?
  • Did both of you use your joint bank account?
  • Who pays the rent/mortgage? How is it paid? How much the monthly rent/mortgage?
  • Did you meet your spouse’s parents?
  • Did your spouse meet your parents?

In practice, USCIS may ask a wide variety of questions to help make a determination if you and your spouse have a bona fide marriage. No matter what questions the officer asks, the best strategy is telling the truth and answering precisely. It is not recommended to mention something else that not be asked by the officer. 

Additionally the USCIS officer will review the I-864 Affidavit of Support and its supporting documents to ensure you will not likely to become a public charge to the United States.

If you have a joint sponsor, you should get prepared to be asked about the relationship between either of you and the joint sponsor. Either of you should meet the joint sponsor before and know each other well.

Through DYgreencard, you may get an immigration attorney who has extensive green card interview experience. Contact us today to have training for green card interview with a reasonable price.

8. Can we reschedule the green card interview?

Yes. You may send a request letter with a copy of I-485 interview notice to the USCIS local office indicated in the notice. However, you’d better send it at least 10 business days before the interview date. The letter should briefly describe the reasons why you’d like to reschedule the interview. You may attach evidence to justify your reasons. The letter should be signed by the I-485 applicant.  Keep a copy and tracking number for your records. If you duly make the reschedule request, USCIS will send you an interview cancellation notice within one month after the initial interview date. Your new I-485 interview date depends much more on the USCIS local office’s caseload. In practice, it varies from 2-4 months.

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