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What the USCIS Marriage-Based Green Card Interview is Really Like: The Horror Stories

From the sponsor’s perspective and with the experience of an immigrant interviewing with USCIS, our series on the marriage-based green card interview both focused on relatively straightforward immigration interviews with happy endings. The moral of both of those stories was that the interview usually isn’t as nerve-wracking as couples anticipate.

But that isn’t the only side of the story. Here are just a few of the bad things that can happen in your immigration interview:

Missing Details – Daniela, the immigrant from Part 2 of our series on marriage-based green card interviews, had a friend who was so nervous that he forgot his wife’s middle name during the interview. Missing what the USCIS considers a simple biographical question led to them being interviewed separately. He was able to verify that they were really married by answering more questions during the individual interview, but missing such a basic question is a clue to the immigration officer that your marriage is not what it seems. If you are nervous, think of the interview as cramming for a test, and quiz each other on basics like parents’ names and birth cities.

The Bad Guess – If you do face the nightmare of being interviewed separately, one of the worst things you can do is guess on a question. Say you are asked about something to difficult to remember, like where you went on your second date or the name of the hotel you stayed in on your honeymoon. It’s always better to pull an Alberto Gonzales and say you “don’t recall” because if your spouse gives a different answer, then you have a black mark against your marriage’s validity.

Intimate Questions – It also pays to be prepared for questions about things you probably won’t want to discuss with a complete stranger – like how often and how recently you and your spouse got intimate. While these questions are supposedly very limited by USCIS policy, actual interviewees have reported being asked about personal details like family planning, as well.

Floods of Tears – We saw parts 1 and 2 of this series that the interviewees, whether the immigrant herself or the petitioning spouse, are always extremely nervous before the interview. But sometimes this manifests in the worst way possible. One woman could not remember the color of her husband’s toothbrush and burst into tears during the interview. Fortunately, she passed her interview, but unusual behavior – like tears, extreme nervousness, or failure to make eye contact – can also indicate potential fraud. Treat your immigration interview like a job interview. Hopefully you’ve never burst into tears during one of those!

Deportation – The “d” word is probably the most feared word in an immigrant’s lexicon. But fortunately, in most cases, if a couple fails the first interview, a second interview is granted. There are very few cases where deportation immediately follows a first interview, but it does occur if the immigration office concludes that the marriage is, without a doubt, a fraud. This can also come bundled with criminal charges against the petitioning spouse. Remember that marriage fraud is a fraud perpetrated against the federal government. They don’t take that sort of thing lightly.

We hope these horror stories prepared you for your marriage-based USCIS green card interview, but also reassured you. True couples who prepare for their interview and use common sense have very little to worry about when it come time to meet with your USCIS officer.