What to Expect at Your Green Card Interview: The Process, the Questions, and What to Bring With You

November 5, 2020
What to Expect at Your Green Card Interview: The Process, the Questions, and What to Bring With You

Summary

The interview will take place at a USCIS field office or U.S. consulate or embassy closest to you, depending on whether you applied from inside or outside the U.S. The interviewing officer will ask you questions about what you put on your application and whether anything has changed between the time you filed and your interview date. This article explains what you need to know about the interview process and how to prepare for it.


The best way to ace your interview is to prepare your forms well before you apply for a green card. ImmigrationHelp.org can help you prepare your immigration forms for free with our easy-to-use online tool. Click the "Get Started" button above or read on to learn more.


This article is not legal advice. We do not intend for it to replace the expertise of an immigration attorney. Its goal is to help you learn more about the Green Card interview process.


Overview

This article will answer these questions:

What is a green card interview, and when does it happen?

A Green Card interview is the U.S. government’s way of meeting the Green Card applicant in person to verify that the applicant is eligible to become a permanent resident and that all of the information on their application is valid. This interview is usually the final step of the Green Card application and normally happens 7 to 15 months after filing.


For more information about the timing of your green card interview, check out our Green Card filing guides. You can also check out the USCIS interview guidelines and the National Visa Center interview guidelines on their websites for detailed information about the Green Card interview process..


We can help you prepare your Green Card application well and for free so that an ill-prepared application does not keep you from advancing to the Green Card interview stage. Click the button below to get started.

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Who needs to go to a Green Card interview?

The Green Card interview will be held at a local USCIS office or at the U.S. embassy or consulate closest to the address you listed on your application. Whoever’s name is listed on the interview appointment notice must attend the interview. 


In some family-based Green Card applications, both the petitioner(sponsor) and the beneficiary(applicant) must appear for the interview, unless they both live in different countries. This is usually the case for marriage-base applications, because the government will use the interview to determine if your marriage is authentic and needs to speak with both of you to do so. 


If you live in the U.S. and are filing for a Family Green Card for your parent, child, spouse, or sibling who lives outside the U.S., you do not need to accompany them to their Green Card interview. 


For employment-based Green Cards, only employees must attend the interview. 


Sometimes, depending on your immigration situation, you may not be required to attend a Green Card interview at all. Asylees, for instance, may not need to have a Green Card interview. The U.S. government will let you know if you need to attend an interview.


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Who can you bring to your Green Card interview? 

Can you bring an Interpreter? 

If you are not fluent in English and will need help to understand what is happening at your interview, you can bring an interpreter with you to your Green Card interview. According to interview guidelines, the interpreter must strictly translate what the interviewing officer asks, without adding their own opinion, commentary, or answer to their translation. The interpreter must bring their government-issued I.D.and complete an interpreter's oath and privacy statement at the interview. If the USCIS officer is fluent in your language, they may choose to interview you in that language, and you may not need an interpreter after all.


Can you bring a lawyer? 

Yes, you can bring a lawyer with you to your Green Card interview if you would like. If you have some criminal or immigration issues on your record, it may be a good idea to attend your interview with a lawyer so that they can help you explain these issues. Your lawyer must complete and submit Form G-28, Notice of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative so they can go with you to the interview. Check out usa.gov for free or low-cost immigration lawyers.


Can you bring friends or family members who are not part of your application? 

In most cases, the only people who should attend the Green Card interview are those whose names are listed on the interview appointment notice that USCIS or NVC sent, interpreters, and lawyers. If you have a disability, you may attend the interview with a legal guardian or friend. Call the USCIS office or U.S. embassy or consulate where you will be interviewing ahead of time to make these preparations.

Will you be able to interview with your spouse?

If you apply for a marriage-based Green Card, both you and your spouse must attend the interview. The interview process can go a couple of different ways when you and your spouse arrive. You may be interviewed together by the same interviewer at the same time. You may also be interviewed separately, either by the same interviewer but at different times, or by a different interviewing officer at the same time or different times


After you and your spouse have interviewed, the interviewing officer will compare your responses for any inconsistencies. Sometimes after your initial interview, the officer will call you and your spouse back for a second separate interview. The interviewers for these kinds of interviews are often officers from the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Fraud Detection and National Security Unit. Their goal is to resolve any inconsistencies in your answers and make sure that you and your spouse have a legitimate marriage. You can learn more about these follow-up interviews with your spouse by checking out the National Visa Center's interview guidelines if you're interviewing outside the U.S. and USCIS interview guidelines if you're interviewing inside the U.S.


The first step toward a successful interview process is submitting a great Green Card application packet. If you're considering applying for a Green Card, ImmigrationHelp.org can help you complete your forms at no cost to you. Click the button below to get started.

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What should you bring to your Green Card interview?

There are some documents that you must bring to your Green Card interview, and others that would be helpful to have with you, depending on your case type. This section outlines the documents you’ll need in two separate checklists: one for interviews inside the U.S. and one for interviews at a U.S. embassy or consulate outside the U.S. 


To learn more about the documents you should bring with you to your interview, and about the interview process inside or outside of the U.S., checkout USCIS' interview guidelines and the National Visa Center interview guidelines, respectively.


If you are applying from inside of the U.S. through Adjustment of Status

You must bring the following documents to your Green Card interview: 

  • A government-issued I.D. like your passport or driver's license
  • A copy of your Form I-485 interview appointment notice (Form I-797C, Notice of Action)
  • A complete copy of your adjustment of status application packet. In addition to Form I-485, your packet must include any of these forms you may have submitted: 

                 - Form I-130
                 - Form I-130A
                 - Form I-864
                 - Form I-131
                 - Form I-765
                 - Form I-944

  • Your passport, unless you applied under asylum or refugee status
  • Other travel documents like advance parole if you traveled out of the U.S. after submitting your application and before your interview
  • Original copies of the supporting documents you submitted with your application. These include documents like birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, death certificates, etc.
  • Form I-693 completed with the doctor's report from your medical examination if you did not submit it with your original application.
  • A letter from your employer on letterhead showing continued employment and salary if you're applying for an employment-based Green Card.
  • Original copies of documents showing proof of your married life if you're applying for a marriage-based Green Card. These include any children's birth certificates, joint lease and mortgage statements, joint bank account statements, joint credit card statements, etc.


Learn more about applying for a Green Card through Adjustment of Status in our detailed filing guide.

If you are applying from outside of the U.S. through Consular Processing

You must bring the following documents to your Green Card interview: 

  • A government-issued I.D. like your passport or driver's license
  • A copy of your DS-260 interview appointment notice (Form I-797C, Notice of Action)
  • A complete copy of your adjustment of status application packet. In addition to Form DS-260, your packet must include any of these forms you may have submitted: 

                 - Form I-130
                 - Form I-130A
                 - Form I-864
                 - DS-261              
                 - DS-5540

  • Your passport, unless you applied under asylum or refugee status
  • Other travel documents like advance parole if you traveled out of the U.S. after submitting your application and before your interview
  • Original copies of the supporting documents you submitted with your application. These include documents like birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, death certificates, etc.
  • Form I-693 completed with the doctor's report from your medical examination if you did not submit it with your original application
  • A letter from your employer on letterhead showing continued employment and salary if you're applying for an employment-based Green Card
  • Original copies of documents showing married life if you're applying for a marriage-based Green Card. These include any children's birth certificates, joint lease and mortgage statements, joint bank account statements, joint credit card statements, etc.

Learn more about applying for a Green Card through Consular Processing in our detailed filing guide.


What other documents should you bring?

In addition to the required documents above, it's a good idea to bring a few other supporting documents whether you're playing inside the U.S. or from abroad. At the interview, the USCIS officer or Embassy official will ask if you have had any life changes that may have affected your application and may have caused an answer on your application to change since you applied. They are looking for things like a change of employer, change of address, birth of a new child, etc. It’s a good idea to bring documents that reflect these changes with you  to the interview. You should speak with an immigration lawyer or law firm before your interview if you have had  any run-ins with the law or with U.S. immigration officials since you applied, as these could cause the interviewing officer to deny your application. 


Whether you are applying through Adjustment of Status or Consular processing, we can help you prepare your Green Card application for free with our simple web application. Click the button below to get started.

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What questions will the interviewing officer ask at your Green Card interview?


Your interviewer will either be a USCIS immigration officer (if your interview is in the United States) or a consular officer (if your interview is outside the United States), who is specifically-trained for your application type. For all application types, the goal of the interview questions is to make sure that the information that you provided on your application is consistent with your answers at the interview. 


The interviewing officer will also have a secondary objective that will be different for each application type.  If you are applying for a Marriage Green Card, your interviewer will ask questions to make sure that your marriage is the real deal and not just an attempt to get a Green Card. For other family-based Green Cards, the interviewer will ask questions to confirm that you are related to your sponsor in the way that you claim. For humanitarian Green Cards like those issued under VAWA or Asylum laws, the interviewer will ask questions to make sure that you actually need a Green Card to get the safety and protection that you are asking for in your application. In all cases, your interviewer wants to know if you are truly eligible for the Green Card you are applying for and will ask you questions to that end. 


You should be ready for questions that can get very personal. The interviewing officer may dig into the circumstances surrounding your entry into the U.S., your previous immigration history, and any past arrests. You should be as honest as possible. If the interviewer asks you a question that you don't know the answer to, it is better to admit that you don't know the answer than to make something up.


Here are some sample Green Card interview questions to give you a sense of what you can expect:


Questions about you


  • When is your birthday?
  • What side of the bed do you sleep on?
  • How do you start your day?


Questions about your kids


  • What are your kids' favorite foods?
  • How do your kids get to school?
  • What sports do your kids play?


Questions about your spouse and your relationship


  • What medications does your spouse take?
  • Where did you go for your honeymoon?
  • Where was your first date?


Questions about significant events and celebrations in your life?


  • What is the most important holiday in your household?
  • What religion do you practice in your home?
  • What was your wedding like?


For more information about the types of questions, the interviewing officer will ask at your interview, check out USCIS's interview guidelines or the NVC's interview guidelines ahead of your interview.


If you are considering applying for a Green Card, we can help you prepare your Green Card application forms for free with our simple web application. Click the button below to get started.

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What are some Green Card interview tips?


The Green Card interview is a big deal, and so you should arrive for your interview well prepared. That is true for anyone who must attend the interview. If you are interviewing for a marriage green card, for example, you and your spouse should prepare for the interview together. This is so you don't contradict each other in your responses and make the interviewer suspicious that your relationship isn't legitimate.


The Green Card interview may feel intimidating, but with a little practice, you will be able to ace yours! Here are a few tips to help you prepare.


Getting ready for the interview

When preparing for your interview, you should assemble copies of the forms and original documents that you included in your application, as well as any documents you need to show changes since you applied. 


If you are applying for a Family Green Card, gather everything you need to prove your relationship with your sponsor is real and legitimate. Include any marriage certificates, birth certificates, joint bank account statements, holiday itineraries, phone records between you and your spouse, wedding photos, proposal photos, etc. 


If you're applying for a humanitarian green card, bring any documents that help prove that you need protection and safety in the US. In all cases. 


In general. the more documents you bring to prove that your claim to a Green Card is legitimate, the better. 


It’s a good idea to arrange your forms, photos, and documents in chronological order for your easy reference during the interview. You could arrange any photos in a photo album, and any other documents in a folder - whichever works best for you in terms of organization. The more organized you are, the easier it will be for you to answer the interviewing officer's questions in a way that supports your case.


If you are applying for a Marriage Green Card and you and your spouse will be attending the interview together, set some time apart to review your relationship memories and be on the same page about your love story and relationship. People remember things differently, and even the best of us forget important things. It’s very important to iron out any inconsistencies in your shared story ahead of the interview so that your application isn’t derailed by a simple mistake.


During the interview

The biggest tip to take with you to the interview is to be open and honest with the interviewing officer. Answer each question the officer asks you truthfully and completely, no half-truths. Your goal is to present yourself as honestly as possible. You need to be open about any mistakes, struggles, or difficulties you've faced in your life and relationships, even if it is uncomfortable or you are worried that honesty will hurt your application. Dishonesty will hurt it even more and may ruin your chances of living in the U.S. 


Be prepared for some very personal questions. If you're applying for a Marriage Green Card, for example, the interviewing officer is trying to get a sense of what your relationship with your spouse is like. That may lead to some uncomfortable questions. The office may ask you about your reproductive health, the contraceptives you use, or a tattoo that your spouse. 


If you find that a question is too intrusive, you can let the interviewing officer know. It is okay to speak your mind because that shows the officer that you are being honest. They may still require you to answer the question, but at least they will know that you are trying to work with them. 


No matter what, though, you should answer their questions honestly. If things get awkward, remember your goal, take a deep breath, and tell the truth!


The Green Card interview is your time to shine, and we can help you get there with a rock-solid application. Our free web application lets you put your Green Card application together quickly and easily, and we support you throughout the application process. Click the button below to begin.

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What happens after your Green Card interview?


Five different things could happen after your Green Card adjustment of status interview:

The government approves your application

If the interview goes well, the U.S. government will approve your Green Card case. In many cases, the interviewing officer will let you know that your case is approved at your interview! You can expect to receive your Green Card in the mail some 2 to 3 weeks after your case is approved.


The government asks you to come back for another interview


The government may decide to invite you for a second interview if they believe there's more to verify in your background or your relationship with your spouse or family member. If that happens, you will receive a new appointment notice from USCIS or your local U.S. embassy or consulate in the mail.


The government asks you for more information


Instead of a second interview, the U.S. government may send you a Request for Evidence (RFE). An RFE asks you to provide additional information so that the government can make a final decision on your case. If you receive an RFE, it will tell you what you need to submit, and by what date. Some common things that the government will request are additional supporting documents like proof that your family relationship is authentic, birth certificates, criminal records, and financial statements. It is very important that you submit everything the RFE asks for before the due date. If you don’t, the government will probably deny your application.


The government takes some time to review your application in more detail


The interviewing officer may let you know that they need to review your application further, and so you will not be receiving a final decision just yet. If that happens, the government will notify you of additional steps for your application, or their final decision, by mail within a few weeks.


The government denies your application

If the interviewing officer determines that you are no longer eligible for a Green Card, they will often allow you to provide extra information to make your case at a later date. However, they may also deny your application on the spot.  


If they deny your application you may have a chance to appeal their decision. But it’s not a good idea to file an appeal on your own if you can avoid it. You can find a skilled immigration lawyer to guide you through the appeal process at USA.gov. Many can even help at low or no cost depending on your ability to pay! 


The best way to be ready for your Green Card interview is to prepare well ahead of time. If your interview is in the U.S., review USCIS's interview guidelines. If your interview is at a U.S. embassy or consulate outside the U.S, review the NVC's interview guidelines.


For more information about the Green Card application process in general, check out our Green Card filing guides.


If you’re ready to start your journey toward a Family Green Card, we can help you prepare your permanent residence application for free with our simple web-based app. Click the button below to begin.

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Conclusion

We hope that you found our guide to what to expect at your Green Card interview useful. If you have any questions about the Green Card interview process or want to share your experience with it, we'd love to hear from you. Drop a comment below, and we will reply ASAP!


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