When you filled in and mailed your immigration forms, you should have either made a copy, or if you prepared these with the assistance of an attorney, he or she would have mailed you a copy. If you do not have a copy, you should be sure to request one from your attorney. Spend some time reviewing the forms carefully to see if there are any errors, omissions or changes in the information and highlight these. At the interview, the officer will review the information on the forms with you and your spouse and allow you to make any necessary changes. This is important because a misrepresentation can potentially have serious negative consequences on your ability to adjust your status.
Be sure to bring evidence of basic eligibility
The interview notice that USCIS sends you will have a list of basic evidence that you need to bring with you to the interview. You should bring the originals and a copy to give to the USCIS officer. These documents include your passport and I-94 card or other proof of lawful entry (unless you are applying to adjust status pursuant to INA 245(i), your state driver's license or identification card (make sure this has your current address which should match that of your spouse in most circumstances), your original marriage license, divorce decrees or death certificates for former spouses, birth certificates for yourself, your spouse and any children you may have, and certified court dispositions for any arrests or criminal convictions. Copies of these items should have all been submitted with your applications and petition, however you will want to bring the originals for the USCIS Officer to examine and in case anything got misplaced.
Be sure to bring sufficient evidence of a good faith marriage
You will want to be sure to bring in evidence that will demonstrate to the officer that you and your spouse married with the intent to share your lives. This can include evidence of shared residence (deed, apartment lease, utility bills), shared finances (joint bank account statements), shared responsibilities (car insurance, life insurance, medical insurance, joint loans and credit cards). Other evidence of a shared life may include birth certificates for children or proof that wife is pregnant or trying to conceive, joint gym membership, shared cell phone plan (especially if you make lots of calls to one another), photographs, cards, e-mails, texts that you have shared over the course of your relationship and detailed sworn affidavits from at least three close friends or family members who know you both and can speak about the genuine nature of your relationship.
Try to establish a rapport with the interviewing officer and talk openly about your relationship
Initially the interview can present itself as an awkward and anxiety-prone experience. It is uncomfortable for most people to have to sit in front of a government official that they have never met before and who in large part controls their fate, and tell personal information about their relationship. However, the more you can overcome this understandable nervousness and establish a rapport with the interviewing officer, the better your interview will go. Although each officer will have a different style, their goal is primarily the same; to determine whether you and your spouse entered into your marriage in good faith for the purpose of building a life together and not for an immigration benefit. It is therefore important that you answer all questions truthfully and thoroughly. Provide the officer with as much information as possible. If you do not know or remember the answer, say so and explain why not. Then share some related information that you do know and remember.
Consider seeking competent legal representation
Although the interview is primarily about you and your spouse, there are many things a competent attorney can do before, during and after the interview that will increase the likelihood of success. Prior to the interview, an attorney can review and organize your good faith documents and advise on whether more are needed or what you have are sufficient. An attorney can also help you go over the kind of questions you can expect.
During the interview, the attorney can take notes and record everything that was said. The attorney can also object to inappropriate questions or point out when clarification is needed as to you and your spouse's answers. If you and your spouse are questioned separately, it is essential to have legal representation to observe the questioning and note any apparent inconsistencies.
Finally, an attorney can take many of the follow-up steps after the interview, to ensure that the petition is adjudicated in a timely fashion.
Follow-up on any requests for additional evidence and be sure your cases is processed in a timely fashion.
If you are fortunate, your I-130 visa petition and I-485 adjustment of status application may be approved at the interview itself. Often the applications are not adjudicated at the interview and the officer will need more time to review the file and/or confer with a supervisor. In these cases it generally takes anywhere from 30-90 days after the interview to receive a decision.
If your case is taking longer than this timeframe, you will want to make an inquiry by way of an InfoPass appointment or phone call to the USCIS National Customer Service Center to make sure that it stays on track. If these efforts do not produce results, your attorney may be able to communicate either directly or through a liaison with the Director of the local office about your case. Other options include working with the USCIS Ombudsman office or the staff of your US Senator or Representatives office to try to resolve the delay.
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