Before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration office, the marriage-based green card interview is the last step in the application process for getting permanent residence. However, there can be few more requests and different outcomes as a result of the interview.
Usually, the immigrant officer brings the decision right at the end of the interview. If the application has been approved, he or she will put the stamp in the immigrant passport, which is valid for 30 days as a green card. The green card will arrive by mail in the next 60 days.
However, different delays can happen and postpone decision-making. Sometimes, the immigration officer is undecided or has no authorization to bring the decision alone. Also, delays can occur due to background checks of an immigrant by outside agencies. When the officer suspects that the marriage is a fraud, it is possible to run a site visit as a form of investigation. These visits are unannounced, and their goal is to have a close look at the couples’ married life.
In cases when additional information and documents are missing, there are several ways to provide them:
1. The examiner can request for evidence (RFE) to provide supporting documents that confirm the marriage’s authenticity. The deadline to respond at the RFE is thirty to ninety days. Non-compliance with the deadline can lead to application denial.
2. USCIS can request to conduct an additional review of the application. It is expected that this will require spouses some additional steps to make.
3. USCIS can schedule the Stokes interview, i.e., the marriage fraud interview, after the initial one. This type of interview is appointed when there is a suspicion that the marriage is a sham, conducted to obtain permanent residence. If the couple passes this interview, the application is approved, and the green card is sent via mail within sixty days.
After making the decision, the official decision notification should arrive via mail within thirty days after the interview.
If it is an approval, it includes notification of approval and a welcome notice. This letter contains crucial information about the rights and duties of the new permanent resident.
If it is a denial, it contains an appeal instruction for those denials that can be appealed. The denial could be inconsistency and incompatibility in spouse’s answers and filled statements, lack of documents, failure at background checking, etc. In severe cases, USCIS can send a notice of intent to deny (NOID), with a request addressed to spouses, to provide a proven explanation for all the mismatches at the interview. This notice is an opportunity to solve the issues before the final decision.
There is a particular procedure in cases where spouses were married less than two years at the time of the permanent residence approval. In this case, the immigrant green card is conditional, and it is valid for the next two years. After one year and nine months, spouses have to fill the form I-751 to revoke the condition. Generally, most green cards are valid for ten years.
It is in the spouse’s interest to conduct good preparation for the initial marriage-based green card interview to increase their chances and get as early as possible permanent resident approval.