The Green Card Interview
Below, find out everything you need to prepare for, and pass, your green card interview. We’ll tell you what questions to expect, how to handle criminal and marriage issues, hiring a green card lawyer, and what to do after the green card interview.
What Is A Green Card Interview?
A green card interview is an in-person question and answer session between you and an immigration officer. During the interview, an officer reviews your green card application and decides if you are eligible to become a lawful permanent resident. Green card interviews are common, and if you filed a Form I-485, then it’s more likely than not that you have to go to one.
The interview takes place at a local field office of United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Usually you’ll appear in-person at the USCIS office nearest to your home address. You’ll enter the facility with your green card interview notice in hand. (Make sure you’re there on the right day at the right time.)
Once you’re called for your green card interview, a USCIS officer will escort you to a private office. At the interview, the USCIS officer will review your Form I-485, Application for Adjustment of Status. The purpose of the green card interview is to make sure that you have provided accurate information and that you qualify for a green card.
What Questions Can I Expect?
The questions at a green card interview can vary. But there are certain ones that you can always expect. We’ll divide these questions into two categories.
Category 1: Questions on your application
First, you can expect the USCIS officer to verify the basic information in the applications you submitted. These include:
- Information such as your name, date of birth, your address and other similar information;
- Immigration history, including dates of entry and departures, and whether you have lied to immigration officials
- Criminal history, like whether immigration or police have ever arrested you.
In the end, you should be ready to confirm all of the information on the forms, no matter what an officer asks you.
Category 2: Question NOT on your application.
Second, an officer may ask about things not on the forms. Know that USCIS conducts background checks for all applicants. This means that USCIS will search all government records to see if they find anything that could lead them to deny your case. If they find something on the background check, you can expect questions about it. If it is especially negative, then an officer will definitely ask about it.
This could be anything from a past immigration applications to an arrest or detention by police. So to prepare for these sorts of questions you should do the following:
- Review any records relating to any past issues you had with immigration officials or police
- Try your best to remember what occurred in case you’re asked details about the situation.
The most important thing to remember: If there is something that you did in the past that an officer could consider a problem, expect it to come up in your green card interview, and be ready with truthful, accurate information!
How Should I Prepare If I Have a Criminal Record?
If you have a green card interview and a criminal record, then you should still prepare using the advice above. But there some other things you need to do to be ready.
Here are some suggestions to prepare for a green card interview if you have a criminal record:
- Speak to a qualified immigration attorney before you send your application to USCIS. This is because you need to know whether the criminal record can or will result in a denial.
- Gather any court documents and arrest records related to the criminal incident. Typically, the most important document is commonly referred to as criminal court’s “final disposition” or the “judgment of conviction.”
- Be honest. If you have a criminal record, tell the truth about it. If you lie and say that it never happened, this could cause more problems.
Be honest. If you have a criminal record, tell the truth about it. If you lie and say that it never happened, this could cause more problems.
How Do I Prepare For A Marriage Green Card Interview?
USCIS conducts marriage green card interviews somewhat differently than a normal interview. When you file for a green card through marriage, you need to prove three additional things. These are:
Number 1: You’re a Spouse of a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident.
The officer will ask your spouse if he or she was born in the U.S. If not, then they will ask your spouse how they became a citizen or lawful permanent resident.
Number 2: The Marriage with your Spouse is Legal.
In other words, an officer confirms you and your spouse terminated all prior marriages by divorce or annulment by a family court. For this, the officer will ask if you or your spouse has been married before. If you have, then the interview questions will be about how many previous marriages and when/how those ended.
Number 3: You and your Spouse are in a Good Faith Real Marriage.
Finally, the officer will ask about your relationship: How you met, when you decided to marry and whether you want to have or already have children. The point of these questions is to verify that you are in a real, good faith marriage.
Do I Need A Lawyer For My Interview?
Do you need a lawyer for your green card interview? This is a very personal choice and depends on the complexity of your case and your money situation.
That said, we can offer some help how to decide whether to hire an immigration attorney. We start by asking what purpose the attorney will serve if he or she at the green card interview with you. Let’s review those:
Reason 1: An Attorney Can Protect Your Rights.
The interview will be in a private office with only you, perhaps your family member, and the USCIS officer. If an attorney is present, he or she can make sure that the officer conducts the interview properly. For example, an officer may pressure you to answer questions that have no impact on the case but can be embarrassing or something you don’t want to share. The attorney makes sure the interview doesn’t involve unnecessary information.
Reason 2: An Attorney Can Help Explain Your Case.
Green card interview questions are often about your past. If your past is factually complicated (i.e. a long story), then the attorney can help to explain it. For example, let’s say immigration arrested you a long time ago. An immigration attorney can help explain your story clearly, and in a way that the officer understands. Without an attorney, your answers to the green card interview questions may be misunderstood. If the officer misunderstands your answers, it can result in a denial.
Reason 3: An Attorney Can Help Explain Legal Issues.
Your case could involve a legal question. In other words, what the law is, and how the law applies your case. A good immigration attorney can clarify the law for the USCIS officer. For example, let’s say you have a criminal record. Sometimes a USCIS officer may mistakenly think the criminal record should result in denial of you green card application. An attorney present during this green card interview could explain the law to the officer and why he or she should approve your case.
Is it normal to have no decision after green card interview in 2022?
In 2022, it is normal to have no decision after the interview. If your case is approvable, it can take up to 60 days for USCIS to send the notice. If approved, USCIS will notify you by mail.
However, if your case involved complicated issues, like a criminal record or negative immigration history, then it can take much longer to get a decision after your green card interview. The USCIS officer may need more time to review your applications and decide with a supervisor whether you qualify for a green card. Or, the officer may need more time to research the law. In these types of cases, waits can extend for months or years. The question to ask yourself is how complicated is your case?
Bottom line: do not expect a formal decision the day of the interview. The best you can hope for is that the officer tells you that there are no problems and that you can expect an approval. If the officer does tell you this then it’s great news. This means that your interview went well and USCIS will probably approve your green card application.
What's Next After The Interview?
After the interview, you may be wondering, “What’s next?” The answer to this question varies depending on the circumstances. So we’ll now review some common questions and situations after the green card interview.
What’s involved in green card processing after the interview?
Assuming the officer has all required information and documents then there are a couple of possibilities. First, if your I-485 application is approvable then only final security checks remain. Meaning, the officer will confirm you have nothing in your record that would affect your green card application.
The second possibility is your case has some unresolved issues outside of your control. In other words, there are issues other than information or documents you’re able to provide.
For example, your green card interview could have involved proof that you entered the U.S. lawfully but you lost your visa. You’re, therefore, unable to give the officer actual proof of legal entry during the green card interview. Instead, you may have given the officer a sworn letter from someone who entered with you. The officer needs to confirm that this sworn letter is enough proof of entry for you to get your green card application, form I-485, approved.
If things went well, how long does it take me to get my green card after the interview?
This largely depends on the USCIS office processing your case. For offices that are less busy or very efficient, it can take as little as two weeks to receive the green card after the interview. For busier less efficient offices, it can take months to get your green card after the interview. These answers assume that your green card application, form I-485, is approvable. If there is a problem with the case then these timelines do not apply.
Should my case have problems, how long will it take to get my green card after the interview?
If there are problems that arise at your green card interview, then it can take a long time to receive your card, sometimes even months or years. How long depends on the specific legal issue. In cases involving legal issues, you should consult an experienced immigration attorney.
How do I check the status of an application after the green card interview?
Lucky for you, our website has an entire page dedicated to answering this question. That said, you can do one of two things. First, you can check your case status here using the receipt number from your receipt notice from the form I-485. Second, you can use the receipt number and your information to submit an inquiry online e-request here.
Note, green card cases require patience, so unless it’s been a few months since your interview then you probably shouldn’t submit an online e-request.
Can I Travel After The Interview?
Even after your interview for a green card, you will need advance permission, known as “advance parole,” to travel while your green card application is pending. If you leave the U.S. without advance parole, USCIS will deem your green card application abandoned and, therefore, denied. So you mustn’t leave without first receiving permission.
If you already have advance parole, you shouldn’t travel while the application is pending unless absolutely necessary. This is because advance parole is valid only while the green card application is pending. So whether approved or denied, the law terminates your advance parole when USCIS decides in your case.
Assuming you’re outside the U.S when a decision is made, then you may have issues returning. If USCIS denies your green card application after the interview then you’ll have nothing to use to reenter the country. If USCIS grants your green card application after the interview then it may not be possible to have the card when you attempt to reenter because the government mails to your residence in the U.S.
Bottom line, you probably shouldn’t travel after the interview unless you have to.
Divorce After Your Interview
A divorce after your green card interview could be an issue. This is because your green card is dependent on your marriage. In other words, the U.S. allows you to live here permanently based on your marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. No marriage, no green card.
Whether a divorce affects your green card process depends on when your divorce is final. If the divorce date was final after you’re approved for your green card then there’s no issue. If the divorce date is after green card interview but before you were approved then the divorce could affect your case. Should you need assistance, you should contact an experienced immigration lawyer about it.
Note, if you divorced because you were a victim of domestic violence by your spouse then you may still be able to get your green card.
Marital Separation After Your Interview
Even if you’re separated, your marriage is still legally valid. This means that under the law you can be approved even if you’re separated after the interview. In part, immigration takes the view that you and your spouse could get back together and continue your marriage. If a lawful good faith marriage exists then you should be able to get your green card.
An issue may arise, however, because you’re obligated by law to update all information on the green card application. Therefore, if you and your spouse now live at different addresses then you’re supposed to notify immigration even after the interview. Such an update could trigger another appointment with an immigration officer and questions about the viability of the marriage.
If you’re separated, it would be a good idea to consult an experienced immigration attorney.
Note, if you separated because you were a victim of domestic violence then you may still be able to get your green card.
Getting a Request for Evidence After Your Interview
Sometimes after the interview, immigration requires more information or documents. For example, the officer may ask for more documents to prove you are in a real marriage. Whatever immigration asks for, you should review the document carefully and make sure you understand what is requested. It is important that you address any request after the interview.
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.What is the best answer for immigration interview? ›
Answer all questions fully, succinctly, and truthfully, but do not volunteer information unless asked. If you're unsure of the answer or do not understand a question, you should always say so rather than guess.What is the frequently asked question for green card interview? ›
Immigration Status-Related Interview Questions
What is your legal status in the United States? When did you come to the United States? How do you come to the United States? Are you a legal resident?
- Arrive on time. ...
- Wait for your Attorney. ...
- Dress appropriately. ...
- Listen to the Questions Asked and Respond Appropriately. ...
- Bring an Interpreter. ...
- Bring a set of original documents and a duplicate set of copies. ...
- More is better than less.
In a green card application, the USCIS is supposed to provide you with an official notification of their decision within 30 days of your interview.What is the success rate of green card interview? ›
Of these, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) approves about 88% and denies 12%. The denial rate has been relatively consistent over the past four years.What can cause you to fail at the immigration interview? ›
- Having a Criminal Record. ...
- Failing to Provide Child Care and Support. ...
- Failing to Pay Taxes. ...
- Committing Fraud on Your Citizenship Application. ...
- Not Meeting Physical Presence Requirements. ...
- Failing Your English or Civics Test During the Interview Process. ...
- Forgetting Selective Service Registration.
Have you ever been to the country? If yes, what visa did you apply for? It is one of the most common immigrant visa interview frequently asked questions.How do you introduce yourself in an immigration interview? ›
I am from (name of your hometown) and I currently live in (name of your current residence). I've completed my diploma/graduation/post-graduation in (name of your course) from (name of your University). I have worked on a few projects in the past that have helped me gain good time management and creative skills.What not to do at green card interview? ›
Forgetting documents, saying too much, lying, and other issues can all create problems during the final phase of applying for your U.S. green card: attending an adjustment of status interview at a USCIS office.
The interview is the last big step in the marriage green card application process, and it can be the most intimidating and stressful element. You can reduce this stress by knowing what to expect and assembling an organized file to bring to the interview.Do I need interview for my 10 years green card? ›
Generally, individuals do not have to attend another interview to renew their green cards. In most cases, the government assumes that key data points like your job, residence, and marital status have remained the same.Can a green card interview be denied? ›
Among the reasons the U.S. government might deny an immigrant visa or green card are its own error (or yours, in completing the paperwork), concern that you are a security risk, inadmissibility for health or criminal reasons, a finding that you are likely to become reliant on government assistance, and more.Is USCIS waiving interviews 2023? ›
In an effort to reduce visa wait times and processing backlogs at U.S. consulates, the U.S. Department of State has extended the authority of consular officers to waive in-person interviews for certain nonimmigrant categories through December 31, 2023.Can I wear jeans to green card interview? ›
It is key to make a good impression on the immigration officer to make things easier. Dressing in sportswear (jeans, t-shirt or shorts) is not exactly the best option. For the interview try to wear more elegant and formal clothes.Can I travel immediately after green card interview? ›
You can't leave the country until you have your approved travel document in hand, so you should expect to spend the 3–5 months after submitting your green card application in the United States. Theoretically, you could be out of the United States for as long as you have a travel document (one year plus renewals).How long does it take USCIS to make a decision after interview? ›
USCIS must decide on your naturalization or citizenship application within 120 days after your interview. You may speed up your application processing in some situations. You can also request expedited processing of your case, however, USCIS has no obligation to comply with your request.Can I travel immediately after getting green card? ›
Permanent residents are free to travel outside the United States, and temporary or brief travel usually does not affect your permanent resident status. If it is determined, however, that you did not intend to make the United States your permanent home, you will be found to have abandoned your permanent resident status.Should I be nervous for green card interview? ›
Whether you are applying for a green card, to become a United States Citizen, or for some other immigration benefit, you are bound to be nervous for your immigration interview. Most of that fear comes from the unknown. So, arming yourself with knowledge about the process will greatly decrease that anxiety.What is the rejection rate for green card? ›
The denial rates vary by category of green card, and they vary widely. Not everyone who seems to qualify for a green card (U.S. lawful permanent residence) actually receives one. The denial rates vary by category of green card, and they vary widely—statistics of denial rates between 6% and 50% are commonly seen.
Green card lottery drawing is one of the easiest ways to legally move to the USA. However, green card lottery winner statistics show that the average chance of winning a Green Card to live the American Dream is about 1:25 to 1:75, depending on the region and year (for Europeans currently around 1:45).What disqualifies you from getting a green card? ›
If you entered the U.S. unlawfully, have prior immigration violations, failed to attend removal proceedings, or otherwise abused the U.S. immigration process, you may be ineligible for a green card.What can stop you from getting a green card? ›
Under U.S. immigration law, three types of criminal convictions make you inadmissible. This means if you have a conviction for any of these three types of crimes, you can't get a green card: Aggravated felonies. Illegal drug involvement.What is the rejection rate for USCIS? ›
Low Denial Rates But Not Enough Visas
“The denial rate for (new) H-1B petitions for initial employment in FY 2022 was 2%,” according to a new National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) analysis of USCIS data.
- If you are a credible witness (can they trust you to tell the truth).
- Whether you have a credible fear of persecution.
- The reason or purpose that you specifically came to the United States.
How long will the interview last? A typical citizenship interview lasts about 20 minutes, but the exact timeframe varies by applicant.What do immigration officers see on their screen? ›
Any criminal history you have. Your citizenship status. Employment information. Your phone numbers.What should be the best answer to introduce yourself? ›
Don't just say “so um, my name's Mike and I'm a sales manager.” Your answer should consist of background (what did you study?), top achievements (how do you stand out from the other candidates), and interests (why are you applying for this job?). Structured - Your answer should follow a simple, easy-to-follow format.What is the best way to prepare self introduction for an interview? ›
Discuss your plan for the future
While discussing self-introductions for experienced candidates to interview with, make sure you also talk about what you want to do in the future, what are your goals, and how you plan to achieve them. Talk about your ambitions, career goals, and your dreams.
Are There Rules About What You Can Wear to Your Citizenship Interview? The USCIS doesn't have any specific requirements about what you must wear during your citizenship interview. And don't worry; the person who interviews you most likely will not consider your clothing when making a decision about your application.
All petitioners for immediate relative and family-preference immigrant case must submit Form I-864 and an IRS Tax Return Transcript of their most recent U.S. federal tax return. You must submit these forms even if your income does not meet the HHS guidelines and you plan to use a joint sponsor.Can I check my text messages in immigration? ›
They may conduct a basic search — in which they scroll through your device inspecting texts, photos or anything else they can easily access — even if they don't suspect you of wrongdoing.Has anyone approved I 485 without interview? ›
In this case, the I-485 Adjustment of Status was approved without a Request for Further Evidence (RFE) and with an interview waiver. This means that the marriage based green card was approved without the spouses attending an interview at the USCIS offices. The processing time was approximately 14 months.How long does it take USCIS to schedule an interview 2023? ›
Approximately 6 to 9 months after filing Form N-400, USCIS will mail the naturalization interview appointment notice.Can USCIS deny green card without interview? ›
All adjustment of status applicants has to be interviewed in person by immigration officers unless the interview is waived by USCIS. USCIS officers have the power to waive an interview process for certain individuals in specific circumstances on a case-by-case basis.What happens if I don't pass my immigration interview? ›
If an applicant fails any portion of the English test, the civics test, or all tests during the initial naturalization examination, USCIS reschedules the applicant to appear for a second examination between 60 and 90 days after the initial examination.What does it mean when USCIS says receive your case decision? ›
If your case status says “Case Was Received,” then USCIS has officially received your citizenship application. At this point, USCIS has not yet approved or even reviewed your application. Now, you'll need to wait for USCIS to review your application materials and make a final decision on your case.How long does it take after case is being actively reviewed by USCIS? ›
It takes approximately 120 days for USCIS to actively review a case. The agency may require additional time to complete its review if any documents are missing.What happens if your green card interview is denied? ›
If your green card application isn't approved, you can refile or appeal it with Form I-290B to either appeal to the AAO or file a motion to reopen or reconsider your case. There is a required $675 filing fee for this form. You must file your green card application appeal within 30 days of receiving your denial notice.