What Does an Immigration Interview Process Look Like?
When you apply for an Adjustment of Status, you’ll commonly have to attend an immigration interview. Also called a green card interview, an Adjustment of Status interview helps the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determine if you meet the green card requirements.
While the idea may be intimidating, the immigration interview process itself is actually quite simple. If you understand how it tends to go, you can increase your comfort level and prepare properly. That way, when your interview day comes, your odds of doing well go up.
If you are wondering about the immigration interview process, here’s what you need to know.
Who May Go with You to Your Immigration Interview
First, it is important to understand that there are rules about who can come with you to an immigration interview. In fact, there are situations where you might need to bring someone with you.
Anyone Listed on the Interview Notice
In some cases, people other than yourself will also be on your immigration interview notice. For example, if you’re applying for a marriage-based Green Card, your spouse likely has to attend, too. That way, the interviewer can verify the legitimacy of your relationship.
If you have a sponsor or if there’s a petitioner other than yourself, that person may also be on the interview notice. If that’s the case, they also have to attend.
However, in many cases, the only person listed on the interview notice is you. But that doesn’t mean you have to (or should) go alone. There are some professionals who can also be by your side.
If you are not fluent in English, you’ll typically need to bring an interpreter. While some USCIS interviewers do speak foreign languages, there’s no guarantee that the one assigned to your interview does. Additionally, you can’t request an interviewer that speaks your language.
When choosing an interpreter, according to USCIS policy, the person must “translate what the officer and the applicant say word-for-word to the best of his or her ability without adding the interpreter’s own opinion, commentary, or answer.” As a result, the interpreter generally needs to be fluent in both English and your language, ensuring accuracy.
Further, when selecting an interpreter, you must usually choose a “disinterested party.” That means that the interpreter shouldn’t have any personal relationship with you. So, you shouldn’t plan on bringing a family member or friend to fulfill this role.
In most cases, your best bet is to hire an interpreter, preferably one with experience in immigration interviews or something similar. That way, you can rest easy knowing that you have a skilled interpreter by your side during one of the most important moments of your life.
You are allowed to bring a lawyer to your immigration interview. In some cases, having an attorney with you is beneficial. They can help clarify any points of confusion, particularly when it comes to matters that are legally complicated.
Additionally, if there is a legal issue that could impact the outcome, a lawyer can serve as your advocate. You’ll essentially have an ally available who understands the laws and regulations, providing you with direct assistance to increase your odds of a favorable decision on your immigration status.
The Immigration Interview Process
Generally, immigration interviews take less than 30 minutes, barring particularly complex situations. You’ll receive a notice that tells you the date and time of your appointment, as well as whether you need to come alone or if other parties need to attend, as well.
When you prepare for your interview, you’ll want to:
- Wear professional attire
- Gather all necessary documentation, including identification, copies of your petition forms, medical exam reports, and other supporting documents
- Check forms for errors that may need corrections
- Review critical details that the interviewer may ask about
- Plan to arrive at the USCIS office 15 minutes before your appointment time
Once you arrive for your appointment, you’ll usually check in with a receptionist. When your interviewer is ready, they will come to get you from the waiting room. You can bring your interpreter and lawyer with you if you have them.
You’ll head into an office for your interview. The USCIS interviewer will start with some basic questions, such as asking for your name, birth date, and address, as well as some information about your physical description.
After the basic questions are out of the way, what you’re asked may vary depending on the type of green card you’re trying to secure. If you’re applying for a marriage-based green card, you’ll be asked questions about your relationship, spouse, spouse’s family, and other details that let the interviewer determine if your marriage is legitimate. For family-based petitions, the questions will focus on your relationship with the petitioner. With employment-based petitions, you’ll get questions that dive into your career and employer.
It’s important to note that the interviewer can ask you almost anything, even if the topic is incredibly personal or sensitive. Additionally, there’s no guarantee that you will or won’t be asked certain questions. The interviewer can bring up anything that is relevant to making the immigration decision and can skip over any topic they don’t think is important.
After the interviewer is finished asking questions, you’ll need to wait for the outcome. In some cases, you may know if you’re approved or denied right away, though it may also take some time for an official decision. For example, USCIS might request more documentation or schedule a follow-up interview to gather additional information. In most cases, they will contact you through the mail within a few weeks about the status of your petition if they don’t have an immediate decision.
Acutrans provides immigration interpreters and certified, notarized translations within 24 hours.
A green card interview can be daunting. The Acutrans team is here to help. Our amazing linguists will stand by you during the immigration process to ensure that proper communication is facilitated. Acutrans understand the immigration process and can offer you consulting and guidance along the way. Whatever the immigration request you have, interpreter or document translation, Acutrans can help. Reach out to us for your free quote today.