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Marriage Based Visa FAQ

Much of our immigration work comes from clients who seek a green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen. We are pleased to help you obtain the legal status you desire and have created this guide to answer a few of the most frequently asked questions. We hope you find it useful.
  • Q: What happens after we file our application? 
A: Although we must file your application to the Chicago Benefits Center, your local USCIS district office will handle the final interview. Your name will put in line for your interview and you will receive receipts for the form filing costs within 2-3 weeks after filing.
  • Q: What about my work permit? 
A: You should receive your work permit within 90 days of filing. Sometimes, the interview may be scheduled before the work permit arrives. If this is the case and you are approved on the day of the interview, the work permit will no longer be required as you will receive the Green Card. If for some reason your case is not approved or they may need more evidence, the officer will approve the work permit at the time of the interview.
  • Q: Can I travel while the application is pending?
A: Not without USCIS permission! It might take several months for the Marriage based Green Card application to be processed and for an interview date to be set.
  • Q: Why not?
A: If you leave the country without official permission, your petition will be considered "abandoned" and your adjustment of status application cancelled. You will need to start all over again. Permission to travel can be applied to on form I-131.
  • Q: When do I get my fingerprints taken?
 A: Usually, the immigrant spouse will get an appointment for fingerprinting around two months after submitting your adjustment of status packet to USCIS. 
  • Q: Where do I get my fingerprints taken?
A: Generally, the spouse must be fingerprinted at a USCIS application support center. They will digitally scan your fingers and take pictures of the applicant’s face. This step is essential to processing the work permit and the final interview. You MUST attend the appointment! If you cannot attend, immediately call the number on your receipt to reschedule.
  • Q: When will I know of the interview?
 A: You should receive the appointment notice by mail within 6 months of filing. USCIS will give the applicants a few weeks notice to get everything together before the big day. The final step will be an interview appointment. 
  • Q: Why do we need to attend an interview in the first place?
A: Basically, to detect fraud. The government is worried about people using sham marriages to circumvent immigration law. Thus, the interview offers an opportunity to confirm the contents of your application after you have sworn to tell the truth. The interview can be conducted in many ways. Most commonly, the immigration officer will ask questions to test if your marriage is real or a sham marriage. They can ask you questions as a couple or separately.  For many, the interview can stressful, even if the marriage is legitimate. Most dislike talking about their private affairs with the Government. 
  • Q: How should we prepare for the Interview?
A: One word: Preparation. Treat the interview like a court case: come prepared with all your documents, learn your material and be ready to answer questions and be cross-examined, if needed. You should be "over-prepared" so that you will feel less anxiety during your meeting. The immigration officer will base his/her decision  on your communications with the officer, your physical appearance on the day of the interview, the documents that you will present and your answers to the questions asked.
  • Q: What are steps I can do to prepare myself:
A: Know your petition. Spend time reviewing all forms submitted and supporting documents provided to USCIS. Look at the questions and answers on every form that you have completed or that has been submitted for you, including the ones filled out by your U.S. citizen spouse. Though the forms seem to contain only factual, non-interesting bits of information, this information is filled with meaning to a USCIS officer. The financial data on the federal tax return, places of residence and employment of the immigrant spouse, dates traveled out of the country will add up to be very important for the officer in making his/her decision.Make sure to be consistent with the forms.

Know each other's story and your families' stories. Spend time with your spouse reviewing the facts and circumstances surrounding your relationship, such as where and how you met, how your relationship developed, who proposed and how, how did the family accept your relationship, any special things you like to do together, etc. Even if you and your spouse think you know and remember everything about one another, you each may remember things differently. Couples have been known to disagree about facts surrounding the events of the wedding, their last big trip and the spouses birthday party.What you like to eat and what you like to for fun. It is useful to write things down together and exchange notes before the interview just to jog your memory.

Dress respectfully. You should dress professionally, and even conservatively. The non verbal mode of communication will tell a lot about who you are. Avoid shirts or jewelry with slogans or symbols that might make the officer wonder about your lifestyle or morals.  Some of the officer might be traditional and very conservative in the way they think. If you are a young lady, avoid revealing tops and piercing, the officer might cast doubt on your role as a responsible wife. In so many words, we suggest that you dress as if you were going to an important job interview and that your career depends on its success.

Be calm. Emotions can be your biggest enemy. A clear mind allows you to think clearly. Some officer might have a special style of questioning that might intimidate you, and make you nervous. Remember their job is to verify this relationship, never take it personally. Stay calm, answer the questions as you are being asked and keep eye contact with the officer at all times.

Never talk back to the officer. Never answer back to the officer in a rude manner, this can end the interview right there. If you feel that you have been mistreated, you can always file a complaint with the supervisor. If you make them feel that you are very very nervous they will become suspicious. It is ok to be slightly edgy, it is only human.
Never lie or deceive. Never, ever lie to the officer about any fact connected to the case.You could be charged with misrepresentation and loose the case at that point.If you are not sure about a fact or an answer to a questions, simply say I am not sure or do not know.If you are separated from your spouse at the interview, DO NOT try to predict her answers.Just be honest about it and try to answer the questions to the best of your knowledge.

Don't try to predict the answers. Instead, focus on listening to each question and answering truthfully. This way, you will be able to fully and persuasively answer what you are asked. 
  • Q: So what actually happens at the interview?
A: After arrive at the USCIS building, you will present your appointment letter to the security guard. He will inspect your bags and will let you into the building. Do not bring cell phone with cameras as they will not let you in the building. 

You will go to the interview waiting area where you will see many others couples waiting. You will need to inform the duty officer that you are here and present your appointment letter.You will ask be seated and wait to called by name. After a long waiting period, you will be called by name (Immigrant spouse’s name). You will be brought to the USCIS officer’s desk, where your identification will be checked. Just when you’re seated comfortably, you and your spouse, will have to stand up again, raise your right hands, and take oaths to tell the truth. If you have an attorney he will be allowed to be present as well. 

The officer will verify your identification documents, such as birth certificates, passports and marriage certificate. You will need to present original copies. The officer will go through basic information on the application such as your address and telephone numbers as well as date of births. He will address both spouses at this time. 

The officer will ask you and your spouse about your married life and your life together. At this stage, the questions will be polite ones, such as where you met, when and why you decided to get married, how many people attended your wedding, or the name of your parents.You will need to present evidence of your life together. Evidence such as: joint bank accounts, lease agreement, insurance and pictures from the wedding and trips together. 

The officer will then ask to see the Tax return of the US Citizen spouse and form I-864 and calculate the numbers to see if the sponsor meet the poverty guidelines requirements.

If all goes well, the officer will approved the case and will stamp the passport of the immigrant spouse with a stamp for 30 days. The stamp is like a Green Card and is issued so that the applicant can work and travel outside of the US if needed. The stamp is good for 30 days since the actual green card should arrive in the mail in 4 weeks or so. If the marriage was less than 2 years at the time you received the Green Card, your Green Card will be conditional for 2 years. You will need to remove the conditions within the 90 days before the expiration of the two years. If you fail to remove the conditions timely, you may loose the Green Card. 

If there is a problem at the interview, you will need to resolve it before the case can be approved.
  • Q: What kinds of problems can happen at the interview?
A: Unfortunately, many problems can happen at the interview, such as the following:
  1. Case Pending waiting name check and FBI Clearance

    Because of the increasing pace of scheduled interviews, there is not much time from the fingerprints appointment date and the actual interview. Sometime the outside agencies (FBI, etc.) are not able to complete all security checks on the applicants before the interview date. If this is the case, the officer can still approve the case, but the Green Card will not be issued until all security checks are clear. You must check back with the local office periodically to see if there is any progress with the file.Applicants from certain countries might be a more likely target for security checks.

  2. Case Pending because of Request for Further Documents or Evidence

    When a case is pending for request for evidence, it does not mean that the officer is intending to deny the case.The office needs more documents in order to make a final decision on the case.

    The immigration officer will issue a form called I-72 and will check the missing items on the form. Some immigration offices will allow you to hand deliver the evidence while other office will only accept the documents by mail. After you submit the evidence, make sure to follow up periodically so that you file will not get lost or archived for no action.

  3. Case Pending awaiting a second interview

    The second interview might be scheduled by an officer that can not make a decision in the first interview, due to lack of documents or failure to establish a bonafide relationship. Second interview are tough to pass and the officers tend to be rough and very strict. Second interviews might take place 6 months after the first interview and at the end of the second interview the case will either be denied, sent for further review to the fraud unit or approved. I recommend getting an attorney if you get a notice for a second interview.
Because each case is different, only a dedicated advocate can deliver the personalized support which can make the difference between denial and success. At the Law Office of Nathan G. Frazier, we take the time to learn about your factual background, to predict and resolve problem issues and to be present with you at each stage. We promise to passionately and persuasively defend your rights in front of any immigration officer or judge to the utmost of our ability, offering you the highest probability of success. 

Call (337) 981-3577 to setup your appointment or reserve your consultation online today!