Practical Advice: How to Survive a Marriage Based Interview in the Baltimore USCIS District Office
Preparation - You can not be too prepared1. Make copies of everything you intend to turn in as evidence. If you only take originals, the USCIS office will take the original. They will tell you that you can request to get it returned. I have RARELY been successful in getting back originals of anything from this office, including original birth certificates, marriage certificates or photos.
2. Read your application carefully before you go to the interview. If there are errors, come prepared to explain why and bring up any issues first. Example: "I would like to let you know I made a typo on my father's name on the application"
3. Especially pay attention to the Form G-325A. A lot of questions as to the bona fides of the marriage derive from information on this form.
4. Tell the truth.
Interview procedureTurn in your notice at the window in Room I01, Wait to be called. The officers are watching how you are engaging in the waiting room (There are cameras there)and the interview room. The Deputy Director recently advised attorneys at a meeting that interviewing officers are instructed to "go with their gut" and it is more inportant than the written evidence to them. If your marriage interview is scheduled for downstairs. (Room number starts with G) it is probably a separated interview. You and your spouse will be subjected to an hour or more of the same questions separately and the officer will compare the answers. This OFTEN leads to an intent to deny.
Types of questions - Do not let yourself be intimidatedIf you are interviewed together, expect to be asked lots of biographic information about each other. Examples: How did you get here today? How and where did you meet? Who proposed? How many siblings does your spouse have? What is his Mother's name? Where does she work? In separated interviews, it gets very specific and goes down into deep levels. Example: If the first question is Where does he put his dirty clothes? the next questions will be What type of hamper? Wood, plastic? What color is the hamper? Where do you keep the hamper? No detail of your life is exempt. If the question is personal, tell them you do not want to answer. Example? Are you trying to have children? Are you doing anything to prevent children? This is a real question I had asked in my presence.
What if they separate you?If you see a G room number on your notice, do not go without an attorney. Actually, my best advice is do not go to any marriage interview in the Baltimore district office without an attorney, or at the least a consult first as they can separate you without warning. They are very tough on separated marriage based cases. You are being separated because they see or perceive a problem in your marriage.
DocumentationTake EVERYTHING possible, original birth certs, divorce decrees and death certs of previous spouses, marriage cert, passport, joint bills, photos together and with family, lease, mortgage, rent receipts, driver licenses showing same address, Letters written to both at same address, joint, car, health and life insurance policies, Joint Tax transcripts, NOT your personal copies. Get the transcripts at IRS ahead of time. The Baltimore office will not acknowledge your personal copies as this does not prove to them the returns were actually filed with IRS.
When NOT to File - Final AdviceIf you are not in a bona fide marital relationship, do not file a marriage based immigration case. It is the faster way to deportation/removal.
If you have a criminal record of any type including DUI and DWI, and live in Maryland, do not file unless you see a competent immigration attorney first.
Do not file a fraudulent marriage case anywhere anytime, but especially not in the Baltimore district. Tell the truth