Applying for lawful permanent residence in the US implies the procedure known as “adjustment of status.” It’s one of the last steps to complete before getting your green card.
Interviews with USCIS are a normal part of the process, and you have no reason to fear them.
USCIS simply wants to confirm the information you and your petitioner have provided on your application. The best part is that an attorney can accompany you as your legal representative.
Let’s say you’re applying in New York, and you would like to have legal representation. If you don’t already have legal help, browse through the available attorneys. Read more about the best legal counsel in New York before choosing someone to work with.
In the meantime, learn more about what to expect from your Adjustment of Status interview from our article.
1. Who goes through the USCIS adjustment of status interview?
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services calls in immigrants who have applied for lawful permanent residence. In some cases, the petitioner or sponsor must attend as well. This step usually happens during the final stages of your application status process.
So, if you apply now, keep in mind that it may take a few months to be called in for the actual interview.
Being called in for an interview is no reason to worry. It means that your application was selected for an extra assessment.
USCIS wants to personally evaluate and review the provided information. In some cases, it skips the interview entirely. In others, only the immigrant is required to show up. But cases like this are exceptions, when there are no irregularities and fraud chances.
Work-based applications don’t require the presence of a petitioning employer. Only the immigrant has to attend the interview.
When you apply for a green card based on marriage to a US citizen, both you and your partner are required to attend the USCIS adjustment of status interview. This step is necessary to assess marriage status. Authorities want to make sure your marriage is genuine and not a gimmick done exclusively to obtain a green card.
Whenever the actual interview takes place, it’s useful to know what to expect. You’ll be prepared and have more confidence when the day comes.
The interview may take place in the US or abroad, factoring in you and your partner’s locations and possibilities.
2. How long does the adjustment interview last?
The adjustment of status interview usually lasts between 20 to 30 minutes. You may be asked to wait for a while longer before the USCIS officer calls you in, though. So, be prepared and patient because it may take a while.
For your comfort, have a meal before coming in for the interview. You’re not allowed to bring in food items. Consider that USCIS buildings are “smoke-free” meaning you’re not allowed to smoke in there.
3. What to expect from the USCIS adjustment interview
Once your interview date is set up, put it in your calendar to remember when to go in. Make plans to have some free time on the date and come to the USCIS office on time. When they’re ready, the officer calls you into their office.
The process begins with swearing you in. Stand up, raise your right hand, and then promise to tell the truth. Then, the officer checks your photo ID.
The next step includes the USCIS officer looking at your file and asking questions about your forms. They’re usually related to your place of birth and address or similar personal data. This way, they confirm you’re the person you say you are, the one who applied. You’re also confirming that your personal information remained the same as when you applied.
Give the officer the documents you brought with you – don’t worry, we’ll tell you exactly what you need in a minute. Plus, he checks your documents’ validity and makes sure they’re enough to make you eligible for your green card.
In some cases, a change in your status may make you ineligible. For example, if you’ve recently been convicted of a crime. Or if your application states you as the unmarried child of a US green card holder but, in the meantime, you got married.
When your green card application is based on employment, expect questions about your job, employer, and qualifications.
When your green card application is based on family relations, the questions are different. Many of them are about your relationship with your sponsor. The officer uses these questions to:
- Check how well you know each other
- Assess how real your relationship is
- Find out if the sponsor enabled you just to get a green card
When applying for a green card using marriage as a reason, most questions will be related to your relationship. Namely, you’ll get questions about how you met, the nature of your relationship, and how your marriage works.
The officer makes sure you know each other well and give similar answers proving your marriage is genuine, not born out of a necessity to obtain a green card.
4. What do you bring to the interview?
When you go to your adjustment of status interview, you’re expected to bring some things with you. The USCIS interview notice gives you a specific list of what to bring, and you should also consider bringing along the following:
- A copy of your I-130 petition and application. Because the USCIS officer will look at your papers, it’s easier if you have these with you. When something’s missing from your file, your copies may come in handy.
- Any travel documents you used while you were waiting for your interview. That includes advance parole permits.
- The passport from your home country. It’s important because it has the visa you used to travel to the US. Keep in mind that if you entered the US without inspection, you’re unlikely to be eligible for a green card.
- Take any original documents you used copies of on your application. That includes birth and marriage certificates. The officer will examine them to make sure they’re real.
- A doctor’s report from the required medical examination included in Form I-693.
- When applying based on employment, include up-to-date letters from your employer documenting your employment history and salary.
- When applying based on marriage, include any copies and original documents proving your marriage is real. Prove your intention of building a life with your partner. Include mortgages, joint leases, or joint bank accounts, for example.
- The officer asks you if any changes happened since you filed the green card application. That includes new employment and recently born children. Bring any documents attesting to your situation. Of course, you can have an attorney present with you.
5. What happens after the USCIS interview?
If everything goes well, you will receive your green card. The USCIS officer approves your application, and you get permanent residence in the US. Your passport gets an I-551 stamp. You don’t get a green card immediately. You will receive it a few weeks later, instead.
If your application isn’t approved that day, you’re asked to provide additional documents. These papers will help you figure out the situation and bring you closer to receiving a green card. Of course, there will be a deadline for providing these documents. After you comply, you will receive a decision by mail.
6. Tips on acing your assessment of status interview
Let’s see what you can do to improve your chances of acing your assessment of status interview:
- Be honest. Keep an open mind and consider this interview an opportunity to show your life is genuine and that your relationships are not obligations to portray something that isn’t real. Every person experiences difficulties. You shouldn’t suffer for admitting your own.
- Practice some general answers before the interview, especially if you’re forgetful. When you’re very stressed, it’s easier to forget things, even if you’re living in a beautiful marriage. Rehearsing your answers helps you be more open and relaxed.
- Speak your mind. USCIS officers can ask very personal questions. Don’t be afraid to let them know if you consider a question offensive. You can decline to answer.
- Loosen up. Be honest and thorough with details and documentation but have fun in the meantime. After all, you remember beautiful moments you spent with colleagues or your significant other.
It doesn’t take much to be prepared for your assessment of status interview. Spend a few hours to get your documents in order and you’re set.
Ask a lawyer to represent you if you feel more at ease this way. After a short interview, you’ll be successful in getting your permanent resident status and enjoy your life as a US citizen.
Tomas is a digital marketing specialist and a freelance blogger. His work is focusing on new web tech trends and digital voice distribution across different channels.
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