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Most immigrants seeking lawful permanent residence in the United States when they are already here do so through a process called “adjustment of status.” If you have applied for a Green Card using this method, the last step in the process may be an interview with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

What To Expect At The USCIS Interview↓

There is no cause for alarm if you and your sponsor/petitioner are selected for an interview. This is simply a routine part of the process conducted in your presence that allows USCIS to review the material and verify all of the information previously submitted by you and/or your petitioner.

There are only a few circumstances in which  USCIS does not require an interview, or requests that the immigrant is interviewed alone. This is most likely to happen in exceedingly simple cases in which there is no reason to suspect fraud.

However, both you and your U.S. spouse will definitely be interviewed if you are seeking adjustment of status based on marriage to a current Green Card holder or U.S. Citizen. USCIS mandates interviews in these cases to make sure that you did not get married under false pretenses solely to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States. 

How Long Will The Interview Take?

In most cases, this interview will take less than half an hour, although you may have a long wait before you are questioned.

What Will Happen At The Interview?

The actual interview begins when the USCIS officer assigned to your case summons you to his or her desk and administers an oath, or make an official request that you tell the truth.  He or she will then ask for and check your photo ID  and ask a series of questions based on the material in your case file to verify your identity and ensure that there haven’t been any drastic changes that would affect your eligibility for lawful permanent residency in the United States.

Once he or she completes this preliminary questioning, the officer will review any documents that you bring to the interview. This is also done to verify that you qualify for a Green Card and are not trying to obtain one illegally (through the use of forged paperwork). Any inconsistencies in the documents may be viewed as evidence of deception, and result in the denial of your application. For example, the USCIS will deny your application if the documents do not accurately reflect information provided about your criminal history and you had recently been convicted of a crime.

Employment-based Green Card applicants should be prepared to answer questions about your job, your qualifications, and your employer. If you have filed a family-based Green Card application, be ready to answer detailed questions about the person who sponsored you (your petitioner) and your relationship with that person. These questions are specifically designed to confirm that you have a bona fide relationship with your sponsor and  are not engaging in fraud to obtain a Green Card.

All marriage-based Green Card applicants must attend their interview with their spouse. Be prepared to answer a comprehensive set of questions about your marriage, how you met, and more. To learn more, see What Happens at The Green Card Marriage Interview?

Don’t Forget To Bring Required Documents

A list of the paperwork including original documents and copies, can be found in the USCIS interview notice.

Be sure to bring everything on that list and:

  • Entire copies of your visa petition and adjustment of status application that you can use for reference during the interview and provide to the USCIS officer if necessary.
  • Any applicable travel documents as proof of departures from and returns to the United States while your application was pending.
  • Your passport containing the nonimmigrant visa with which you entered the U.S. (unless you entered without inspection, which would likely render you ineligible to  adjust status).
  • Originals of any documents that you previously submitted copies of to USCIS, such as birth and marriage certificates, so that the officer can make necessary comparisons.
  • The doctor’s report from the mandatory medical examination on Form I-693 (unless you submitted it with the original adjustment application).
  • If you are an employment based applicant, bring a current letter from your employer detailing the circumstances of your employment.
  • If you are a marriage-based applicant, bring original documents and copies of paperwork to serve as proof of your relationship/marriage such as bills, mortgages, financial papers and so forth.

The officer will ask about any significant events that have transpired and could potentially affect your eligibility for adjustment of status since you filed the application — such as the birth of a child or change in your sponsor’s employment. Be prepared to provide any documentation as proof of such changes (including the original and copy for the file).

You may bring an attorney with you as long as he or she files Form G-28, Notice of Appearance with USCIS prior to the interview.

Your interview will be held at a USCIS office several weeks to months after the application for adjustment of status is filed. If you filed a family-based petition (Form I-130 or I-360) and application for adjustment of status (Form I-485) simultaneously, USCIS will make determinations on both at the same time.

Being notified about the adjustment of status interview is both exciting and scary. Unchecked, these emotions can lead applicants to make simple, but costly mistakes such as:

  • Bringing the wrong material or forgetting to bring certain material to the interview.
  • Over-estimating English skills and failing to bring an interpreter.
  • Saying and doing the wrong things during the interview.

What Happens If You Don’t Bring The Correct Documents To The Interview

This will affect the officer’s ability to make an immediate determination regarding your eligibility for adjustment of status, result in lengthy delays and additional costs. If you do not bring the correct material to the interview, be prepared to send additional paperwork to USCIS and await additional instructions or requests for information before USCIS makes a decision about your application. 

Importance of Bringing Original Documents to Support the Application

USCIS requests copies of different documents when you file your application for adjustment of status. However, they alone do not serve as sufficient proof because they are easily forged or altered. This is why USCIS expects you to bring the originals to the interview for comparison. If you don’t the officer won’t be able to make an immediate determination on your application. 

Failure To Bring Documents Reflecting Life Changes

As noted above, you must provide sufficient documentation (originals and copies) of any significant changes (good and bad) in your life since you filed your application for adjustment of status that may affect your eligibility for adjustment of status. Be sure to consult a qualified immigration attorney prior to the interview to learn what sort, if any mitigating proof you can bring to the interview if there are negative changes that may jeopardize your application. Even if you can’t bring any mitigating evidence, it is still important to provide documents reflecting the negative change, because failing to do so could result in revocation of your Green Card later on.

If you have recently started a new job or changed your job, you will want to bring financial documents such as pay stubs or tax returns as proof of employment.  A detailed letter from your employer also serves as sufficient proof of your financial standing.

Bring the birth certificate for any child born after you filed your application to help prove that you are in a bona fide marriage if your application is based on marriage.

Finally, bring current forms reflecting new information if there have been any changes to basic information such as your address phone number etc. This will help facilitate the interview process and make it much less stressful for everyone involved.

Going To The Interview Without A Competent Interpreter

Don’t be afraid to bring an interpreter. The USCIS officer will not judge you on your proficiency or lack of proficiency in English; if anything, he or she will appreciate that you brought someone to make the process easier. More importantly, brining an interpreter will reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings that could hinder your ability to get a Green Card. To avoid complications, choose an interpreter who can translate between both English and your native language.

Failure To Provide Acceptable Translations for Foreign-Language Documents

There are specific requirements if you bring documents written in anything other than English. First of all, they must be fully translated into English and accompanied by sworn statements regarding the accuracy of the translation. Secondly, the person who did the translation must also provide an official statement regarding his or her ability to translate the foreign language into English.  See Example here.

If you don’t provide documents meeting these requirements, the USCIS officer may ask that you submit them by mail or bring them back at a future appointment, both of which will result in lengthy delays.

Saying The Wrong Thing At The Interview

Take your time during the interview. Listen carefully. If you don’t understand a question, ask the officer to repeat it, or ask the translator who accompanied you to repeat the explanation/translation. Doing so will reduce the chances of making one of the common mistakes detailed below.

Saying Too Much

Resist the temptation to show that you are relaxed or comfortable by providing too much information or answering questions that the officer hasn’t asked. Appearing too eager to provide information could be interpreted as a sign of deception and harm your chances of getting a Green Card.

Giving The Wrong Impression About Your Initial Intentions

Be very clear about what you intended to do when you first obtained a visa to come to the United States. If  you answer in a way that leads the officer to believe that you intended to stay here permanently when you received a visa that permitted only temporary admission to the United States, you may be accused of coming to the U.S. on false pretenses, which is a type of immigration fraud. To avoid any misunderstandings, make sure the officer knows you decided to stay here only after you received your nonimmigrant visa.

Lying About The Information On Your Visa Application

Be prepared for the officer to ask about the information provided on your initial visa application. He or she is doing so to assess the truthfulness of the information not only on that application, but your overall ability to be truthful. Be honest about any inaccuracies or untruths on the initial visa application in order to avoid further complications in the adjustment of status interview process. If you said you were married on the visa application, or lied about your income, admit what you did and explain why you did it. Honesty is always the best policy.

Lying About Past Criminal Activity

By this point, USCIS has done a thorough background check — so the officer will know about any past arrests or convictions. Don’t deny it in the interview — and if you didn’t include the information in your application, explain why you didn’t provide it. Before the interview, consult a qualified immigration lawyer about any concerns regarding your past criminal history or your failure to provide information about your past criminal record.

Being Argumentative Or Talking Back To The USCIS Officer

Although the interview is a stressful process and you may feel as if the officer interviewing you is accusing you of something or asking unfair questions. Take a deep breath and remain calm. Do not be too defensive and argue with the officer. Instead, ask to see a supervisor.

Learn more about 

Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-130

Documents check list general requirements Form i-131

Family-Based Applicants Additional Instructions 

I-485 with granted Asylum/Refugee Status additional instructions

Green Card for Family Preference Immigrants

Green Card for Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizen

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