Preparing for your Green Card Interview

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You have received the appointment letter for your green card interview. Like everyone else you started to worry about everything that could go wrong. Different scenarios are playing in your head.

Like you, we have also experienced those moments. We had our share of stress and worry but we passed the interview. We are sharing these helpful tips to help you pass yours too.

Step 1. Appointment letter.

Holding your appointment letter in hand, check the date, place and time of your appointment. If you cannot make it on the date of your interview, you can call the USCIS office and have it rescheduled. The appointment letter itself will provide instructions on how you can reschedule your appointment. Please know that the rescheduling of your appointment will not be held against you as long as you have a valid reason such as being sick or attending a funeral. If you choose to have your interview rescheduled, the rescheduling will cause a delay in the approval of your green card. Think carefully about whether you really need to reschedule your interview.

Time: Arrive at the location at least one hour early. In most locations, you have to fall in line for a security check. This could take 30 minutes of your time. After passing the security check, you have to queue to be interviewed. Remember that the USCIS officer is not only interviewing applicants for green cards. They are also interviewing other applicants who filed different forms. It’s best to be early. Spend your free time composing or calming your nerves. It is also helpful to go with your husband or wife. You can leave your bag with your husband and carry only your important documents when your name is called.

Location: Check the location where the USCIS field office is located. Make sure that you also check the traffic an hour before you leave your house. It is not wise to be caught in traffic without extra time before your scheduled interview time. It will add to the stress and will make you more anxious.

What to wear: The USCIS does not expect you to buy new clothes for the interview. Go through your closet and look for clothes that you normally use for religious services or clothes that you will wear if you are invited to your in-laws house. So what does that mean? It means that skirts should not be too short for women. Acceptable length should fall on the knee. No strapless, no backless, no too tight clothes and no low v-necks. You are not there to show your physical attributes to the USCIS officer. For women’s accessories, less jewelry is better. If you want to wear a statement piece go with dangling earrings but do not pair it with a necklace or bangles. If you choose to wear a necklace, use stud earrings. For men, no wearing of tees and shorts. Try to avoid denim jeans. If that is all you have, pair it with a button down or long sleeve shirt. No slippers, sandals or tennis shoes. Put some effort in looking prepared. You can also wear suits or any business attire if you choose to. Does the color of the fabric matter? Yes, it does. Avoid reds and bright yellows. Opt for classic, black, brown and navy blue hues when choosing your attire.

Step 2. What to bring.

On the night before the interview, make sure that all your original documents are properly organized. Use the copy of the I-485 you have to sort and organize your original documents. Place them in an easy to carry bag or envelope. Make sure you have your all your identification cards ready, your passport, your medical certificate, copy of your appointment notice and your employment authorization or parole/travel document card. Also bring the original cards, receipts, utility bills and banks statements.

Step 3. Interview

The USCIS officer normally would introduce himself to you and then confirm your name. He will try to make you feel comfortable before asking you questions. He will start by confirming with you the answers that you have given in your I-485. It is best that you go over your copy of the I-485 and make sure your know what your answers are in every question. If you have any corrections, it is best to mention them when the USCIS officer is asking about them and have it corrected. Make sure that the spelling and the dates are correct. Please make sure to check your address. This is very important. Your card will be sent to the address that the USCIS has on file. If you have changed your address, please let the officer know so he or she can make the necessary corrections in their system.

From the time you have filed your I-485 until the time of your interview if you had been arrested or charges were filed against you, it is best to consult a lawyer before you go to your interview. A lawyer can better prepare you and can go with you during your interview.

If your I-485 is marriage-based, the USCIS officer will ask you more personal questions after he confirms all the answers you have provided in your I-485. Listen to the questions carefully. If you do not understand the question, ask the officer politely to rephrase his question. Do not be alarmed if the USCIS officer starts to ask you personal questions about your marriage or things that can be found in your bedroom or bathroom. The USCIS officer just want to ascertain that your marriage is not a sham and fraudulent. Examples of the questions are: How did you meet your husband/wife? Where did you first meet? How do you spend your weekends together? What places have you visited together? Who pays for the vacation? What chores do you do at home and what chores does your husband/wife do? What is the paint color of your bedroom? etc. These questions will help determine if your marriage to your spouse is genuine or not.

What if you have a child with your husband/wife? The USCIS officer all also ask you about the birth of your child. Was your husband present? When was the baby born? Who takes care of the baby? The USCIS knows that you have a child together but just want to make sure that both you and your spouse are taking care of the child.

The USCIS Office may ask you to present the original documents that you have and compare it to the photocopy that you have submitted with your application. Be ready to present the documents. It is best if you have organized your documents in order based on your I-485. If it helps you, put tabs on your original documents so it is easy to locate them from your file.

Step 4: After the Interview

The USCIS officer will inform you that the interview is over and may inform you if you passed or not. In most cases they will say that they will review your documents and send you a notice if you pass or fail. Do not be alarmed or be worried if this happens. Sometimes the USCIS officer needs a little more time to decide your case. If there are a lot of applicants that need to be interviewed or are queuing after you, the officer will also tell you that they will send you a notice of whether you pass or fail.

Step 5: Waiting

After you have finish your interview, you will again wait for the notice of its approval. Sometimes you will receive it first or you will receive your green card ahead of the notice. Please note that it takes awhile. You can visit the USCIS website to check your case status or call the USCIS hotline.

Step 6: Receiving your green card

Congratulations! You are now a green card holder. But wait. Check your green card to know when it will expire. If your card will expire in two years, that means that you have a conditional green card. You need to remove the conditions before the expiration date. Within 90 days of the expiration date, you need to file your I-751 form with the USCIS. You can contact us if you need help preparing this form.