If you are a conditional green card holder (someone who received their green card through marriage to a US Citizen and you were married for less than 2 years at the time that you received your green card) then you will need to file the I-751 to remove the conditions on your green card before your two year anniversary of receiving your green card. I’ve discussed how to file the I-751’s supporting documents when you are divorced/separated here and now I am going to discuss how to prepare for the interview.
What should I do if I am just filing a regular I-751 with my spouse? Most of the time you may not receive an interview notice when you file to remove the conditions and provide a lot of proof of your joint life together. If you have been called in for an interview this usually means that USCIS needs clarification on something in your petition. This could be based on what happened in your initial interview with your green card application. It could also be based on their review of the documents that you filed or a lack of documents. It is important that the both of you go to an interview based on a jointly filed petition, so make sure that the both of you go to the interview. If your marriage is on the rocks and you cannot get your spouse to accompany you, please reach out to an immigration lawyer immediately to get advice on what to do in that situation.
What will happen during an interview if I filed based on a request for a divorce waiver? It is common to get an interview notice in this scenario. Make sure that you have carefully prepared your petition with as many supporting documents as possible that show your marriage was genuine. Before your interview date approaches, try to gather even more evidence to bring with you to the interview. This evidence can be in the form of cards, letters, affidavits, bills, bank account statements, lease agreements, car titles, mortgage documents, photos etc. Make sure anyone who is writing an affidavit for you can be specific and detailed in their statements, it is as if they are testifying in court and the examiner will want to get a good sense on how they knew you as a couple and their thoughts on why you divorced. Many times officers will take what you bring to the interview to put in their file, so bring copies of any originals that you do not want to part with.
What kinds of questions might I be asked? The I-751 interview is different than the initial green card interview. They are not concerned with how you entered the country and finding fraud in your prior visa process. In this interview they want to find out if you had a real and genuine marriage. They will ask specific questions about your case based on the information that you provided to them in your application and supporting documents. They go into a lot of detail and can ask very personal questions. Here are some topics that you might want to talk over with someone before attending the interview:
- How you met your ex-spouse? What was the length of your dating period before marriage? How was your relationship with your spouse’s family?
- When did you start experiencing problems in your marriage? Did you take any steps to resolve those issues? Which one of you initiated the divorce? When did you move out of the marital residence?
- Was there any infidelity? What specific factors led to dissolving your marriage?
- Are you in a new relationship? Why do you think this one might work even though you got divorced?
They may ask different questions, but the general idea is that they want to know about your marriage and what issues made you divorce. Even if the officer seems to be insinuating that something you did was wrong, feel confident in your reasons for making the choices you did at the time and be forthright and truthful throughout the interview.
This process can be complex and it can be a stressful time, many people file these waivers every year and get through it. Be confident and make sure to have as much evidence as possible and you will get through it as well. If you need any help through this process, please feel free to contact me.