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What To Know When Preparing for Your Green Card Interview

Allison Lukanich

After compiling all of the evidence, filling out and submitting the forms, and attending the biometrics appointment, you receive the long-awaited notice to appear at a USCIS Field Office for your green card interview. Excellent! Now what?

For many green card applicants, news that their case has finally been scheduled for interview is met with both excitement and apprehension.  What questions will the officer ask? Or, what documents should I bring with me?

If you worked with an attorney in filing the case, you should contact their office to see about scheduling an interview prep session.  I include a mock interview session as a part of my retainer agreement so clients are heading into the interview confident and prepared.

 

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Review Submitted Documentation

It’s always a good idea to read through your copy of the filing, reviewing all of the forms and questions you answered. The interviewing officer will primarily be reviewing this with you to see if anything on the forms needs to be changed or updated.  This is particularly important for those whose cases have been pending for a long time, as the information may be old.

Additionally, while preparing for the interview, it’s a great opportunity to review the I-485 admissibility questions to make sure you understand the basic requirements for residency, and that you still meet them given your background and immigration history.  If you don’t understand some of these questions or aren’t sure you answered them correctly, you should consult with an immigration attorney immediately.

What To Bring With You

The good news about preparing for an interview is that USCIS provides a very thorough checklist on their interview notice, Form I-797C, as to which documents you should plan to bring.  All of the documents that USCIS would need to process your case would have been provided in the original filing. Typically, they will ask the applicant to bring originals of official documents submitted in the filing. This includes birth certificates, marriage certificates, detah certificates, and divorce decrees. As well as all previous passports, with visas printed in them, and any other applicable travel documents.

There are a few additional original documents you should always plan to bring with you.

  • The I-693 Medical Exam, in a sealed envelope from a USCIS Civil Surgeon, if you didn’t submit it with the adjustment of status filing, or if more than two years has passed since the issuance of the I-693.
  • If you have any criminal history, you need to bring court-certified documents regarding the charges against you and the outcome. Keep in mind, for documents related to criminal history, these need to be original, typically with a raised seal, for the officer to inspect for authenticity.

At a minimum, the officers like to review passports, even old or expired ones to inspect visas.  If you have questions about the documentation that USCIS is asking you to bring to your interview, then you should consult with an attorney. Field offices can implement slightly different policies for their green card interviews, so you want to ensure all documents are in order prior to your interview date.

 

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Day of the Green Card Interview

On the day of the interview, be sure to follow the instructions about where to arrive and when.  They will be provided on your green card interview notice. Give yourself plenty of time to account for traffic, parking, and going through security, but keep in mind if you arrive TOO early USCIS may have you wait outside, since waiting room space is limited.  The interview notice says to arrive no earlier than 30 minutes, so use this as your point of reference for timing.

You should be dressed in business casual.  A full suit is not required as the USCIS officers themselves maintain a business casual dress code, but don’t arrive in a track suit. Think of what you would wear to a nice dinner with your significant other.

Who can attend the interview:
  • If filing through a family-based petition, the applicant and petitioner are both required to attend.
  • If filing through employment, the main applicant and derivative family members are required to attend.
  • Your attorney—not required, but he or she is allowed to come with you if you so choose.
  • Finally and most importantly, an interpreter. If you do not feel completely comfortable having the interview in English, you should make arrangements to have an interpreter attend the interview with you. USCIS will not provide an interpreter for you, and an immediate family member who is attending the interview for you or themselves, the petitioner or applicant, will not be allowed to interpret on your behalf.

man writing on a piece of paper with penOnce you are called back into the interview, keep in mind that the first thing the officer is going to do is place you under oath, so that you are required under the threat of perjury to be truthful and honest on everything discussed during the interview.

From there, the interviews typically take anywhere from ten to thirty minutes for the officer to review the forms and filing for accuracy and completeness, review any submitted evidence or any additional evidence you’re bringing with you to file with the case, and ask any additional general questions to assess your eligibility for residency status.

After the Interview

It depends on the officer as to when you can expect to hear a decision on your green card application following the interview. Some officers will tell you right away in the interview room, where others will give you a timeframe to expect a response, typically 30 to 45 days after the interview, and then you’ll receive any further communications from USCIS regarding a final decision via USPS mail.

The I-485 Adjustment of Status interview can be nerve-wracking but a well-prepared applicant should be in and out of the interview in no time with a successful outcome!

Are you ready to take the leap and file for your green card? Schedule a consultation with the attorneys at Bashyam Shah LLP to discuss your upcoming interview or your future adjustment of status case!

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