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How to Prepare for Your 2020 Green Card Interview

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How should I prepare for my Green Card interview? Hi, I'm Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States at our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. It's been a few years since we've talked about marriage-based Green Cards and the interview process, so I thought I'd make a video to give you sort of the latest news on what we've been seeing.

When a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident sponsors their spouse for a Green Card, eventually there's going to be an interview. At the interview, two things are the main points of inquiry. Number one, is this a valid marriage? That's done by reviewing the I-130 and the I-130A applications. Two, is the foreign national a good person that we should let stay in the United States? Or, stated differently, are they someone who are inadmissible for some legal reason? Is there some legal impediment, some legal reason why they can't get a Green Card? All the questions on all those forms are designed to elicit answers, to highlight all those legal issues.

Just so you know, when I started practicing immigration law, the application I-130 was two pages long and the I-45 application was four or six pages long, I don't remember. Now, the I-130 application is about 11 pages long and the I-130A, which is about the beneficiary, is about the same length. The I-45 is now 20 pages, and it's split down the middle with questions on two columns. There are a lot more questions on the Green Card application than there used to be. These questions are all directed to, like I said, the legal impediments or the legal reasons why someone can't get their Green Card.

The best way to prepare for your interview is to read the questions out loud to each other. I would have the US citizen ask the foreign national the questions, and I would have the foreign national ask the US citizen the questions, because you're not going to be reading the questions. You're not going to be able to look at your answers. You're going to have to answer them orally. You need to be able to know them like this. This is true now, more than ever. You have to be prepared, and you have to know your stuff, and you have to know it orally.

Now, sometimes the foreign national's English is not so great, and that can cause a problem. Every now and then, we'll let a translator come, but that's sort of tricky because you want to make sure that it's clear that the US citizen or Green Card holding petitioner can adequately communicate with the beneficiary.

When you get to your interview, the officer's going to call you in and put you under oath, swear you in, and then they're going to start asking you questions. Now, a lot of times, they'll ask you questions about the other person. They'll ask the foreign national, for instance, the birthday for the US citizen or they'll ask the US citizen for the names of the foreign national's parents. Most interviews, I would say probably 60, 70% of interviews on spouse cases, the couple are interviewed together. I think randomly some get chosen for separate, what are called Stokes interviews, where the foreign national and the US citizen petitioner are questioned separately. You just have to be sort of ready for that. Sometimes that's because there's something about the marriage that the USCIS doesn't feel right, maybe the foreign national was out of status when they got married, or the couple got married very quickly, or there's not a lot of evidence that's been submitted so far. All these things can lead to the interview being one of a separate interview.

Basically when you go into your interview, you have to be ready for anything. You have to be smiling and ready to answer their questions. If they ask you 87 questions, you're smiling and ready to answer question number 88. Hopefully, you'll be ready. You want to spend time. You got to know your facts. You got to know them off the back of your hand. You can't be looking around and going, "Uh, we got married... Yeah, that was in February, I think. February 10th or so. Yeah. February 10th." That's not good. You want to be direct. You want to look them right in the eye. You want to be able to answer the questions concisely, which means in short fashion. Yes or nos are best.

Hopefully when you get to the Green Card part of the application where they're going over all the inadmissibility questions, hopefully all those answers will be no. If you have too many yeses, you're probably going to want to talk to an immigration lawyer about all those yeses. You're going to need to bring records of any arrest or interaction with law enforcement. You're going to have to bring all of your identity documents. You just have to be ready for anything.

You have to be confident in yourself. You have to be there knowing that you're entitled to the benefit and that you're doing your best. It really, really helps to prepare, to go over the application, to review the answers that you've given. If you've made any mistakes on your application, you want to make what's called an errata sheet, E-R-R-A-T-A. If you search for that word on our YouTube channel, you'll see a video I did just on errata sheets. But you want to be as thorough and as complete and as honest as you can be. If there's things that you're worried about, go talk to an immigration lawyer.

Hope this was helpful. We really needed to do an enactment of an interview here in the office pretty soon, and I will do that shortly. In the meantime, if you have questions, give us a call at (314) 961-8200. You can email us at [email protected]. Be sure to join us on our Facebook group, which is called Immigrant Home. If you liked this video, we ask that you please share it out on social and that you subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you get updates whenever we make videos, just like this one. Don't forget, you can find us on Instagram, @hackinglawpracticellc. Every Tuesday and Thursday from noon to 1:00 Central Time, we're going live in the Facebook group and on YouTube, answering all of your immigration questions. Thanks a lot. Have a great day.

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