Preparing for Your Marriage Interview | Marriage Interview Tips


Hello. Good morning. My name is Ifeoma Odunlami, for those that do not know me. I am an immigration attorney at Odunlami Law Firm in Cedar Knolls, New Jersey. And today, I have a wonderful topic. So I’m going to wait for a few people to come in, and then we can get started. I’m going to be talking about preparing for your marriage interview.

So again, my name is Ifeoma Odunlami. I’m an immigration attorney at Odunlami Law Firm, where we work with fellow immigrants to help them achieve their American dream. As you all know, I am an immigration attorney. I’m also an immigrant, so it’s my passion to assist my fellow immigrants to get their green cards, to naturalize, and to begin their new life in the United States without fear of being deported. So I’m going to go through what I have to say, and then I’ll take a couple of questions. I don’t have a lot of time today because I have to take my son to the orthodontist. But I’m going to go through this real quick. Hi, Lamonica, how are you? Same here. I look forward to working with you.

So let me dive into this because this is a really important topic. I want to talk about the marriage interview here. The Adjustment of Status interview here in the United States. Okay? So let me give you a couple of tips. First of all, on the day of your interview, you want to get there 30 minutes early, at least 30 minutes early. Some officers don’t want you to get there any earlier. So I’d say get there 30 minutes early. However, I tell my clients actually get that an hour early, just because sometimes a line wraps around the building, sometimes it doesn’t. You can’t really tell.

You want to be dressed, business casual. You want to look good. You want to bring all your documents properly tabbed. So that when you’re being asked questions or being asked to present certain documents, you’re not all over the place trying to, “Oh my God, where is it? I know I had it somewhere here.” So you want to tab it properly. Get a binder, tab all your biological information, biographical information, tab the things involving your spouse, tab the original documents you submitted. Just tab them nicely in descending order so you can find them really quickly.

So the interview… This is what I tell my clients. When you go for the interview, first of all, calm yourself down. The officer is… If you have an attorney, which I always recommend, your attorney’s there to make sure everything goes right. So that if there’s any conflict or anything, they can address it, or they can escalate it. So when the officer asks you a question, you want to make sure you understand the question that you’re being asked before you answer it. Because if you answer a question that you think is what has been asked, it could look like you’re being dishonest, and that’s something you do not want this interview. Because a lot of times in the marriage interview, really, it’s all about what the officer feels is about your case. Have you presented a credible case? And if they think you’re being dishonest, that’s not a good thing at all. So you want to answer the questions you’re being asked.

If you don’t understand the question, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with saying, “I really don’t understand the question. Can you rephrase it?” And if they ask you a question that you’re not sure of the answer, let them know you’re not sure of the answer, so that if the answer is wrong, the officer will know that you weren’t lying, you weren’t sure. And you said that ahead of time.

So typically, questions are, I’d say, divided into three main parts, and the officer can ask any question in any order he deems fit. He or she. But I’m going to categorize them by ground questions, which is your biographical questions, where they’re asking you questions about yourself, where you’ve lived, where you’ve worked, if you’ve been married before, when you got divorced, how many children do you have? Those kind of questions that are asking about who you are.

And for this, I tell my clients, when you go for the interview, you must take all your original documents. Because when we submit the petition, we submit only copies. So when you go for the interview, you have to take the original documents, your original birth certificate, your original marriage certificate, your passports, all your passports that you’ve had since you came into the United States. You want to take any form of identification, the original. And if any of your certificates are in a different language, you want to have it translated. You want to take your filing, the petition that was submitted for you, which your lawyer should have given you if you had a lawyer. And if you didn’t have a lawyer, you should take that with you because don’t assume that the officer… It’s important for you to have it anyway, just because the officer might ask you a question from that. Now, the officer will ask questions from this, so I always tell my clients to review the submission, your I-485. Go through it carefully, go through the questions that are asked.

And then that will lead me to the second section of interview, which is the security questions. Now, the security questions are questions that relate to the safety of the United States. So they’re asking questions that relate to terrorism, that relate to espionage, that relate to certain activities that you may have been a part of prior to, or currently, or activities that they are asking whether you intend to conduct in the future. So for this section, it’s really important that you understand the questions because some of the terms used with regards to these security questions are not terms that we’re used to. Some of them are questions that will ask you about espionage, and some people don’t even know what that is. So prior to the interview, you want to go through the I-485, and you want to check off on any questions that you’re not sure what it asks. Because you want to make sure you understand it, because they will ask you those questions again, and you want to be prepared to understand the question. So you don’t say yes because you didn’t understand the question.

In my office, we have a mock interview before every I-485 interview. We go over the questions. We go over, the relationship questions as well, which is a third part I’m coming to. So now, if it’s a marriage interview, because there are different types of interview. It could be naturalization interview. It could be I-485 relating to work interview. But I’m going to only talk about marriage based.

So for the marriage based, the officer can really ask you a whole bunch of questions. They can ask you questions about how you met, who proposed to who, what did you have for dinner? What is the color of your spouses underwear that the spouse wears today. And sometimes those questions, you don’t even know the answer to that. Sometimes they’ll ask you questions like, “What is the color of your spouse’s toothbrush?” And the truth of the matter is you probably don’t even know what the color of your toothbrush is. So if they ask you a question such as that and you don’t know the answer, just say, “Honestly, I haven’t paid attention to that.” Now, that’s reasonable because a lot of people don’t pay attention to the color of toothbrushes. When they ask you a question such as, “What did you guys have for lunch yesterday? Or what side of the bed do you sleep on?” And you don’t know the answer to that, that’s suspect. That could lead the officer to think that it’s not a bonafide relationship.

And that’s another reason why it’s important to do a mock interview, because typically, and I’m not trying to mock any sex, but typically men generally don’t remember a lot of information about relationships. You know that’s true, right? So you want to go over those questions, like how you met, where the proposal took place. I’ve had couples when I asked them during the mock interview, “When did the proposal take place? How did it take place?” And both of them had different answers because the woman thinks, “Oh, that was not a proposal because you didn’t have a ring. That was just you feeling it out.” And the guy’s like, “No, that was a proposal.” So you want to get your minds meeting about relevant information about your relationship. And sometimes it’s great to talk about it so that both of you remember, you recollect, and you’re able to… You’re on the same foot with regards to your relationship.

And at this point, this is a good time to bring additional documents. You want to bring additional documents that show that you have a bonafide marriage. So these additional documents are documents that show things that have happened since the submission. For instance, if you’ve had a baby, you want to bring the baby’s birth certificate. Don’t bring the baby, okay? You want to bring your baby’s birth certificate. If you’re pregnant and you’ve had an ultrasound, you could bring that. If you’ve gone on vacation in the interim between the time you’ve submitted your petition to the current time, you want to bring all of that. You could also bring affidavits from people who know your relationship and who could attest to the fact that it’s a real relationship. So you’re expected to bring more information. Actually, even collect more information like utility bills, bank records for my clients right up to the date of the interview to show that they are still living together. They’re still financially commingled. Everything is the way it was when we submitted. Nothing has changed. They’re still a bonafide couple.

So those are the things that you need to know. And I cannot stress enough how important it is to prepare for this interview. Because when you’re prepared, you’re not as nervous because both of you are on the same wavelength, you and your spouse. You know exactly what… You talk to each other. You reminded each other about the things that one person might have forgotten. Because the concern is if you’re giving inconsistent statements, typically, cases will be denied. You will get a NOID, the dreaded NOID, Notice of Intent to Deny, because statements are inconsistent. A lot of times, I’m telling you, the inconsistencies are so immaterial, but who wants to get a NOID. So that’s why it’s a really great idea for you to practice and prepare for the interview.

And this is also a good time for you to submit your medical documents. You’re supposed to get a medical exam. And if you haven’t submitted it, you want to submit it. And remember, it’s a sealed envelope. You cannot unseal it. You bring it with you. Let’s see, what else? I think that’s pretty much about it. I’m going to go through my notes real quick to make sure I didn’t forget anything.

Another thing I want to mention is if there’s a mistake in the petition that you submitted, a good time to correct that mistake would be at the interview. So do not lie to match the mistake that was put in the petition. You want to just tell your attorney, or if you don’t have an attorney, you want to make the corrections right there.

And let’s see, what else? Also, bring your interview notice, the original interview notice, because when you get to the USCIS office, they’re going to ask for it because they want to make sure that you’re there on the date you’re supposed to be there. You also want to… If you come in with an attorney, you want to talk with the attorney to make sure both of you have an agreed upon a time to meet in case your attorney wants to talk to you about something just before then. And I think that’s pretty much it. Let’s see. I think that’s pretty much it.

So I can’t stress enough, review your documents, all your documents, your I-485, review it. It’s 18 pages, I think. Look through it page to page. You want to be familiar with where you resided in the past five years, where you’ve worked in the past five years, you want to be familiar with your spouse, their parents, their names, their siblings, all that kind of stuff. You want to be familiar with it.

So let me look to see what the good people on this chat are saying. Hi, Susan. Collegia, how are you. Susan, you can call my office, definitely. I encourage you to call my office, 973-993-1900. Please call my office, and my staff will attend to you.

 And Ben Saca says, “… we got married last month. But my wife moved here from Louisiana. Please which address should we use? Is it the one at Louisiana where her house is or here in Jersey?” Well, where do both of you intend to reside? This is where you should put in your paperwork. Okay? Both of you, hopefully, are residing together, so that’s where you put your paperwork then.

All right. Walyd says, “Hi, as a US citizen, can I simultaneously apply for my mother and my minor siblings? I really want them to come together in the US together ASAP. Could you help me?” So Walyd, unfortunately, I mean, you can apply for all of them, but they’re not going to come together at the same time, because your mother’s application will go much faster because she’s an immigrant relative. I’m assuming you are 21 and above. But your siblings that will take a while, a long time, really, because depending on what country you’re from, it’s taken maybe 15 years, 10 years. It depends. So there’s no way your mother and your siblings will get their paperwork and be able to come at the same time. Your mother will get here first, okay? Because she’s an immediate relative.

So unfortunately, you guys, I’m sorry. I have to run, because as I said earlier, I have to take my son to the orthodontist. But I will be back again next week, maybe earlier, and we can talk. And if you have any questions, you can put it on the post, and I will come back and try to answer your questions. Or better still call my office, because lots of questions you ask, I cannot answer it without more information. So call my office, 973-993-1900, and we will assist you. Take care, have a great day


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