Getting a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident as an immigrant has its immigration benefits. One of those benefits is the fact that an immigrant spouse can apply for a visa based on that union allowing for a family member who is their spouse to come and join in the United States through the right port of entry.
A marriage-based green card is one of the easy paths to living permanently in the United States – though not that easy. Knowing how possible and easy it is for people to fake marriage, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services takes caution.
The National Visa Center, NVC, and USCIS don’t just hand over the visa on a placard. The applicant has to fill out different application forms and prove that they have a bona fide marriage during the visa interview.
The interview is typically held at the U.S. embassy or consulate in the applicant’s home country – called consular processing. This article serves as a guide to prepare you if you’ve got a U.S. embassy interview ahead for your visa application.
How Long Does a Spouse Visa Interview Take?
The interview takes place in a private room at a local USCIS office and usually takes fifteen to twenty-five minutes with the spouse. The USCIS office may be a U.S. embassy in the country of your spouse or your home country if you’re abroad.
You’ll get all the details in an email or letter if you didn’t provide an email address. The details will include the address where the interview will take place, panel physicians [if any] and other instructions to follow for the interview.
Is There Any Interview for a Spouse Visa?
The applicant visa interview is the eleventh and last stage in the marriage visa application process scheduled by the NVC and conducted by a USCIS official. The NVC schedules the interview once it has determined that your file is complete with all the required documents.
Then, they’ll send the completed file to the U.S. consulate where the interviewer will take the interview. All the stakeholders in the interview, including the applicant, petitioner, and attorney, will be notified through emails or letters.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Interview After Getting Married?
That depends on how smoothly the entire immigrant visa application process went; if there are delays, it’ll take a longer time. Generally, it takes four to twelve months after applying before the USCIS will send you a green card interview notice.
The notice will contain the applicant’s visa interview date and time with instructions on steps to take before the interview. That usually includes guidance on how to obtain a medical examination and certain vaccinations, date, time, and location of the interview.
What Documentation Do You Need for the Visa Interview?
The National Visa Center forwards your file, which will contain the complete required documents you submitted during your alien registration application. These include a U.S. unexpired passport valid for six months after your intended date of entry and an affidavit of support from the petitioner.
The documents also include two 2×2 photographs, original and photocopies of civil documents, and completed medical examination forms. When you’re going to the interview, you’ll go with your valid passport and other documentation not provided to the NVC.
What Areas Will Be Queried during a Marriage Visa Interview?
The immigration officer in charge of your case can request anything from your biographic information and residence to where your spouse attended school. Other areas they ask questions about include you and your citizen spouse’s common interests, your prior marital status, if applicable, and spouse’s family.
They’ll also ask about your spouse’s children if you have any, your wedding day, criminal history, spouse’s religious background, future plans, and travel to the U.S. The first set of questions they’ll ask will likely be about you and your spouse’s initial meeting.
What Are the Likely Questions to Expect?
During your marriage visa interview, you should expect questions like:
- What are your spouse’s hobbies, what are your hobbies, and what do you like about your spouse?
- Have you been married previously?
- When did you and your spouse first meet, and how long have you known each other?
- What is your spouse’s birthday or place of birth?
- Where does your spouse live or where do your spouse’s parents live?
- Does your spouse have siblings; where do they live?
- Where does your spouse work, spouse’s salary, what is your spouse’s educational background, and what do they do for a living?
What Documents Are You Expected to Bring to Your Immigrant Visa Interview?
You’re required to bring the original and photocopies of the documents below; your DS-260 application should reflect them as well.
- Your interview appointment letter; register with a courier service through which you’ll get the interview appointment letter and track your documents’ delivery status;
- The confirmation page for the completed Form DS-260 online for each immigrant visa applicant;
- Current passport with at least six to eight months remaining validity; ensure the details are correct and rightly spelled;
- Original and photocopy of birth certificates of yourself and unmarried children where applicable. Include a change of name certificate if applicable and year of death if any of your or your spouse’s children are deceased;
- A certified copy of a final adoption decree if you have adopted children;
- Marriage certificate, divorce decree, and police certificate – with translation if spouse’s language isn’t English
- Original documents to prove and establish your relationship with the sponsor and petitioner.
Who Is Required to Attend the Visa Consular Interview?
The United States consulate or embassy requires the immigrant visa applicant to attend the consular interview. The petitioner is not expected at the consular interview, although he or she may be summoned in some cases.
To know who the USCIS expects to be at the interview, you can inquire at the embassy conducting the interview. If you have children or family members immigrating with you, they may also be required to attend the interview.
Who Is Exempt from a Marriage Visa Interview?
The U.S. consulate may approve a waiver application on the interview requirement if you’re applying to renew your marriage visa. They may waive the interview especially if you are applying for the same interview and have a clean immigration record.
Furthermore, a US consular officer can waive the interview for some F, M, and academic J visa applicants. If you’ve been previously issued any type of U.S. visa, have never been refused a visa, and are eligible, you may get an interview waiver.
When Should You Go to the U.S. Consulate for Your Interview?
Preparing for an interview is vital; ensuring you’re there and on time is equally as important. It is also essential that spouse speak to themselves before one of them goes for the interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate. Thus, if you live far away from the U.S. consulate, you’ll want to get there a day before the interview at least.
Meanwhile, you may want to add more days if you’ve not completed the medical exam for immigrant visas. That is especially if the consulate designated a clinic or panel physician and it is located near the embassy or consulate.
What Happens When You Arrive at the Embassy?
When you enter the U.S. embassy, a clerk will check the items you brought to ensure everything is there. Then, you’ll meet with a consular officer who will place you under oath and review your application’s contents. It is best that spouse communicate to themselves before now as it will not be allowed after now.
They may start by reviewing your forms and documents and ask questions you have already answered on the forms like how many years your spouse spent in another country before coming to the United States. If there’s any question you can’t answer, it is better to sincerely indicate that rather than try to guess the answer.
When going for an interview at the embassy or consulate for green card, ensure you must have spoken with an immigration law firm or review the testimonies of past applicants on government or other internet sites. However, ensure you avoid external links that are not trusted. It is also important that you know vital information always required by consular officers like birth certificate and other supporting documents that may flow from previous marriages, if any.
What If You Can’t Appear At the Interview?
If you’re unable to attend your scheduled interview, inform the U.S. embassy in charge or the department of homeland security as soon as possible. You need to contact the U.S. consulate within one year of receiving your marriage visa appointment letter or you might be a victim of an expiration date.
Failure to do that will result in the termination of your immigration case and cancellation of your immigrant visa applications. Also, all the legal fees you paid throughout the entire application process will be refunded.
Let Herman Legal Group Help You
There is no denying that the visa application process at any level is no walk in the park. If you have just gotten married as a result of losing your previous spouse, you will need to provide a death certificate. You will also need to show that the new marriage is a bona fide and not a makeshift union. The USCIS takes this seriously because it guarantees border protection for the United States.
To avoid getting caught up in the wave of confusion, you can contact Herman Legal Group to help you with a marital visa. We have a team of the best immigration lawyers you can find anywhere in the United States, and you can get started by scheduling a consultation by calling +1-216-696-6170 or book online.
Applying for an immigrant visa can be long and tough, but the interview stage with the consular officer is the last before you get your card issuance date. It doesn’t take long if specifically requested; the government agency only requires the spouse to speak the truth.