If you live in Massachusetts and are seeking a green card based on marriage, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has a new way of conducting adjustment of status interviews.
At issue is whether the marriage is based on a relationship that the couple entered into for genuine, bona fide reasons. Traditionally, an immigration officer would conduct the marriage-based green card interview by sitting down together with the husband and wife together at the same time. The officer would question the couple and try to figure out whether the relationship was genuine or fraudulent.
Now, the new procedure is to interview the husband and wife separately starting with the visa petitioner (U.S. citizen). The immigration officer asks both the husband and the wife the same question in separate interviews. There are no wrong answers--only same or different. The separate interviews are now standard procedure at USCIS Boston and Lawrence District Offices for all marriage-based green card adjustment of status cases.
As an immigration lawyer, my experience with the separate marriage-based green card interviews has been fairly positive. The questions seem reasonable, fair and designed to weed out marriage fraud and to make sure that the couple really know each other well, as any genuinely couple would.
I can offer you three general pieces of advice: first, make sure that you and your spouse know each other well. Don't hide important but potentially embarrassing personal information such as a divorce or a criminal history from your spouse. To get your green card, your husband or wife will need to know everything there is to know about you. The immigration process is not the time for secrets.
Second, if an immigration officer asks you a question, don't respond with a guess. If you don't know the answer, just say that you don't know! If you guess and your answer doesn't line up with your spouse's answer, the officer could conclude that your marriage is not based on a genuine relationship. If so, your immigration case could be referred to USCIS fraud unit and, eventually, be denied.
Third, hire an good immigration lawyer! I work with clients who are seeking a green card through marriage to prepare thoroughly or the adjustment of status interviews. I've handled countless cases and can help you fix problems before the immigration interview.
For more information about the marriage based green card process, please call my Boston immigration law office at 617-722-0005. I'd be happy to help.