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To get a green card for the United States, you will have to go through a fairly lengthy application process that involves an interview with a USCIS officer. This might sound intimidating, but with the right preparation, it doesn't have to be. Knowing what questions to expect and what ones might be asked will give you the confidence you need to sail through the process.
In the case of marriage, green cards, the questions given to each spouse may vary, but overall they will remain very similar. In this article, we outline some of the most common questions to expect in your green card interview. The questions are grouped into ten categories. Please note, the list is not definitive, and depending on your circumstances you may have to answer a question that does not appear here.
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Basic Personal Information
You will be greeted by the USCIS Officer, who will introduce themselves. These officers are mostly friendly and will make small talk with you, although there have been exceptional reports. You will be led to an interview room and asked to take an oath before the interview begins. This involves raising your right hand and repeating the line, "I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."
The first question you will encounter should be straightforward for you to answer; they are your basic personal information. These questions are outlined below:
- What is your current legal name?
- What other names (aliases, maiden name, nicknames, and other legal names) have you used, if any?
- When and where were you born?
- What is your current mailing address?
- What is your phone number?
- What is your email address?
If you are applying for a marriage green card, you will need to answer these same questions about your spouse. In either case, it's a good idea to write out your answers prior to the interview to ensure your answers are confident and reliable.
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Your interviewer may then move onto questions about your physical appearance. This might seem strange since you're sitting right in front of him or her, but these questions are routine and should be expected. Even if you think you know the answers, as with the personal information, it's a good idea to write the answers out beforehand so you can confidently recall them in the interview room.
The interview officer may ask:
- How tall are you?
- What color are your eyes?
- What color is your hair?
- What is your weight?
They may need this physical information for their background checks, but they may also want to test your competence and reliability of your answers. Don't guess any of the information, collect your data prior to the interview. Please note this information will not affect the outcome of your application.
You can also expect to encounter questions relating to your family and family history. If you're applying for a marriage Green Card, you can expect to answer the same questions about your spouse's family too. These questions include:
- What is your mother’s maiden name?
- What is your mother-in-law or father-in-law’s first name?
- Is your mother or father a U.S. citizen?
- How many children do you have?
- Where were your children born?
- Is your child your biological, adopted, or your spouse’s?
To get reliable interview answers for these questions, you may need to conduct your own mini interview with your family and your spouses family. Even if this feels a bit awkward or is inconvenient, it's worth the effort as these questions are fairly standard.
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If you are applying for a marriage-based Green Card, you can expect some quite probing questions about your relationship and its history. The authorities need to check that your relationship, and application, are genuine – you may be interviewed in the same room or in separate rooms. For other types of Green Card application, the relationship questions are more basic. Here are some of the ones you can expect:
- How, where, and when did you meet your spouse?
- Where did your first date take place?
- How long were you with your spouse before getting married?
- When and where were you married?
- Did you go on a honeymoon? If yes, where did you go?
- What is your spouse’s current job?
- What do your parents think about your spouse?
Following the questions regarding your relationship history, you might be asked about your residential history. This includes the countries you have lived in as well as the physical addresses. The authorities will want to know that you have a reliable address history to assess your current circumstances and to determine your likely traits within the country. Expect to encounter the questions below:
- Where do you currently live (if different from your mailing address), whether abroad or in the United States?
- When did you start living at your current physical address?
- Where else have you lived in the past five years, whether abroad or in the United States?
- When did you live at each address?
- Have you, as a couple, ever physically lived together?
- When and where did you last physically live together as a couple?
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Expect to answer a series of questions on your employment history, even if your application is family-based. They may not be as in-depth as the employment-based application, but they will still be statutory. In the case of employment-based applications, expect a more lengthy set of questions, not all of which can be detailed here. Typical questions include:
- Where do you work?
- Where else have you worked in the past five years?
- What is your salary?
- What is the name of the last school you attended?
- What did you study at the last school you attended?
- Income tax
You may also be asked to produce your tax returns if you are self-employed or confirmation of employment within the US. Your tax record may be important for the authorities so ensure that you ensure that your record is up to date.
Citizenship and Immigration Status
The authorities will also want to check your civil background, including citizenship and immigration status. The country you are currently living in as well as previous residencies are both relevant. Although they are not questions as such, you may be asked to produce identification documents. These include:
- Alien Registration Number (A-Number)
- U.S. Social Security Number
- Number on government ID card
If you are not yet living in the country passport identification may be required as well as any equivalent social security cards or documents from your country of residence. You may not be asked to produce these document, this section of the interview could be passed over, but if not, isn't you may be faced with a lengthier process if you aren't prepared.
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It is routine for your USCID Officer to ask about your legal history and criminal convictions. Prior to the interview, you must fill out a criminal record disclosure on the I-485 form. This form must also be brought to the interview. Still, your Officer may ask questions relating to criminal convictions or anything that's relevant to your answers.
Expect to be asked:
- Have you ever been arrested?
- Have you ever committed a crime without being charged?
These questions relate to the US and any other country you have resided. The answers don't refer to minor traffic offences, but any other type of conviction is relevant. Dishonest answers can lead directly to disqualification from sponsorship or denial of a Green Card.
There's a good chance you will also be asked about your household. The authorities will want to know if you have any dependants and what your socioeconomic status is. This can be relevant to tax and social security questions, as well as demographics. In this section of the interview, expect the questions:
- Do you have any unmarried children under the age of 18?
- Besides any children under 18, do you claim anyone else as a dependent on your tax returns? If so, how many?
- Have you filed an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) for anyone else before? If so, how many times?
Again, these questions may be easy for you to answer off the top of your head, but it's still a good idea to do some prior research in order to answer confidently and with reliable, up-to-date information.
Lastly, in terms of the standard questions, you can expect, you will be asked about your financial situation. These can include the following:
- What is the current annual income earned by you and your spouse in the United States?
- Are there other people (your siblings, parents, or adult children) who will contribute their income to financially support your spouse (the applicant seeking a green card)? If so, how much additional income will they contribute?
- Have you filed a federal income tax return for each of the three most recent filing years?
- If you choose to include your assets with your earnings from employment to meet the income requirements for a marriage-based green card, what is the total value of your assets (bank accounts, investments, and property)?
At times you may be asked probing personal questions that may feel intrusive or unnecessary. You can decline to answer some of you feel they are too personal but always decline politely.