Preparing for the Marriage-Based Green Card Interview

Congratulations! You have received a notice from the USCIS (former INS) instructing you to appear at a local US immigration office for a green card interview!   Amidst the excitement of getting your green card, you might be worried about appearing in front of immigration authorities to answer questions about your relationship.  What if you or your spouse stumble? What if one of you doesn’t recall what face cream the other one likes!?!  

Beyond what you say or don’t say, know that government officials will look at the unspoken and largely be able to tell if the relationship is real, and whether you are happy or unhappy with each other that day.

When you receive the interview notice, put the time and date on the calendar for yourself AND your USC spouse, because your spouse will be required to attend the interview, too.  Review all the questions and answers to the application forms I-130, I-485, G-325 and I-864 that you filed.
In preparation for the interview, be sure to gather the following materials and documents:
  1. The Interview Appointment Notice. Take the original and a copy with you.
  2. Valid photographic identification such as your driver’s license and your social security card.
  3. Your Birth Certificate and Passport.
  4. Your spouse’s Birth Certificate or US Passport.
  5. Marriage Certificate.
  6. Copy of your I-130/I-485 petition.
  7. Two months most recent paystubs for your spouse to show his/her ability to support you financially.
  8. Documents proving the bona-fide nature of your marriage such as:
a.    Insurance Policies (car, life, health)
b.    Joint Property Documents (car, apartment of house lease or deed)
c.     Bank and Credit Statements
d.    Non-Joint Bills (one for each party, showing both of you at the same address)
e.    Wedding Photos and Photos of you and friends/family together (bring any marriage-album and any other picture album)
f.     Any Other Evidence or Marriage like cards or emails to each other.
Before you are seated you and your spouse will be sworn to tell the truth. The first set of questions may be basic, biographical questions about each other such as:
– Full name
– Date of birth
Place of birth
Names of children, if any
Names of parents

Followed by more personal questions about each other like how you met, your families and relatives,  outings or vacations together and questions to clarify what the officer can see in your photographs.

If the officer is not satisfied that the marriage is bona fide, he or she may separate you and your spouse during this interview or bring you back for another one. The next session will require you to answer questions about your living arrangements and your daily or regular interactions. They may have you answer written questions, like:

– Is there a carpet on the ground when you walk in the front door?

– Which way is the kitchen from the front door? Which way is the stove?

– Where did you eat after your wedding?

– Where did you go after your wedding? Right after the ceremony? any honeymoon?

– What time does each person wake up in the morning?

– What does your spouse do first thing in the morning? Last thing at night?

– How many brothers and sisters does your spouse have? Name them.

– Where do the relatives of your brother and sister live?

– Who cooks for the family? Where is the stove in the kitchen, next to what?

If you are in a true and valid marriage, anything you do in front of the US CIS will be natural whether you are before the officer, agreeing, disagreeing or even confused about each other’s information (please speak up to correct any confusion, or write a clarification on paper if you are taking the test – as soon as you remember your mistake). Even though you may be nervous, be yourselves, and be very respectful to the officer. Try not to volunteer any information unless asked a direct question.
Once the interview is over, there will be several possible outcomes. You will either be (a) approved either the day of the interview, (b) approved days/weeks later after a further background check is completed, or (c) approved after you provide any documents that are additionally requested during the interview.  And yes, there is a chance of denial, for which you may seek post-denial remedies.
Lastly, you may find out that the fingerprints or another background check has not been completed or they wish to see yet another piece of evidence that is outside of normal interview procedures. Just find out who the officer is and ask them “(1) What do I still need to do? (2) What can we expect to happen now after this interview? (3) and When can we expect a result?”
Good luck and please feel free to call the lawyers at RWG to discuss any of this in a consultation by dialing 703-531-0790 or 415-765-0679

Q & A: EAD/AP Combo Card

Question:  I have an I-485 (adjustment of status) application pending, based on a labor certification filed 6 years ago.  I am waiting for my priority date to become current.  I work in H-1B status, have an H-1B visa AND a valid EAD (employment authorization document) and AP (advance parole/travel document). My EAD and AP will expire soon. Now that USCIS is issuing a convenient “combo card” combining the EAD and AP into one card, will I get a combo card when I apply to renew my EAD and AP?

Answer:   You are only eligible for an EAD/AP combo card if both applications (I-765 and I-131) are filed simultaneously, and both the EAD and AP documents are within 120 days of expiry.  Below please find a link to the USCIS Policy Memorandum, on the subject of issuance of the combo card.

Suzette Blackwell
Associate Counsel

USCIS Announces "Entrepreneurs in Residence" Initiative

Agency focuses on fully realizing the job-creating potential of current immigration law

Released October 11, 2011

WASHINGTON – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas joined the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness in Pittsburgh to announce “Entrepreneurs in Residence.” This new innovative initiative will utilize industry expertise to strengthen USCIS policies and practices surrounding immigrant investors, entrepreneurs and workers with specialized skills, knowledge, or abilities. Mayorkas announced the initiative at the Jobs Council’s High Growth Entrepreneurship Listening and Action Session at AlphaLab in Pittsburgh before the Council’s quarterly meeting with President Obama.

“This initiative creates additional opportunities for USCIS to gain insights in areas critical to economic growth,” said Director Mayorkas. “The introduction of expert views from the private and public sector will help us to ensure that our policies and processes fully realize the immigration law’s potential to create and protect American jobs.”

USCIS will launch the “Entrepreneurs in Residence” initiative with a series of informational summits with industry leaders to gather high-level strategic input. Informed by the summits, the agency will stand up a tactical team comprised of entrepreneurs and experts, working with USCIS personnel, to design and implement effective solutions. This initiative will strengthen USCIS’s collaboration with industries, at the policy, training, and officer level, while complying with all current Federal statutes and regulations.

The initiative builds upon USCIS’s August announcement of efforts to promote startup enterprises and spur job creation, including enhancements to the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program. Since August, USCIS is:

  • Conducting a review of the EB-5 process
  • Working with business analysts to enhance the EB-5 adjudication process
  • Implementing direct access for EB-5 Regional Center applicants to reach adjudicators quickly; and
  • Launching new specialized training modules for USCIS officers on the EB-2 visa classification and L-1B nonimmigrant intra-company transferees.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit or follow us on Twitter (@uscisExit Disclaimer), YouTube (/uscisExit Disclaimer) and the USCIS blog The Beacon.

Link to USCIS Press Release.

I-9 Compliance Resource Center

RWG’s I-9 Compliance Services and SSNs
With our I-9 Compliance services, we help US and international companies on US soil with their Workforce compliance systems. Our job is to interpret the I-9 Work Authorization laws, anticipate fines and discrimination pitfalls, teach methods for compliance, prepare for government audits and partner in visa matters during the hire of non-US workers. Clients request our legal services at several junctures:

  • Organizing I-9s in-house
  • Learning how to complete an I-9
  • Determining if E-Verify is for a company, with consideration for FAR (federal acquisition contract clause)
  • Dealing with SSA No-Match letters
  • Getting a Notice of Inspection (NOI) from the government for an “I-9 Audit”
  • Doing an Internal I-9 Self-Audit to assess potential fines in system as is, clean up I-9 files
About I-9s
US immigration laws require every employer on US soil who hires or currently employs a US or foreign worker to complete and maintain a Form called an I-9 for Employment Eligibility Verification. Every person working as an employee in the US must complete one for their employer if they were hired for wages or other compensation, on or after November 6, 1986. To comply with the law, an employer must verify the identity of each person. The employer must also verify the employment eligibility of each person. The employer does this by completing the Form I-9 and reviewing particular documents of their employees. Then the employer must retain the Form I-9 for each employee for specified periods of time. And not least of all, the employer must refrain from purposely or accidentally discriminating against employees protected under various national origin and citizenship laws, by following particular verification methods. Employers may be audited and fined for knowingly hiring illegals, or for making substantive or technical errors on the Form I-9, and for discriminatory verification practices.


About E-Verify
E-Verify is the government’s web-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. While it claims to be free and easy to use to help employers ensure a legal workforce, it provides no guarantee that an employer will be immune from action by the government. Its major pitfall is that it does not verify actual US workers who are mistakenly omitted or mismatched in the system which (a) can cause problems of credibility for the worker vis-à-vis his/her employer, (b) allows illegal workers using other US workers documents to be verified, (c) provides minimal protection for the company against government audits, and (d) in keeping historical records, can hurt an employer’s defense in an action by the government.
Required usage of E-Verify is limited to federal contractors and subcontractors who fall under the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) clause. With a FAR clause in a contract, some or many of your employees may have to be registered under E-Verify.

The Dec 2010 GAO Report on E-Verify cites improvements in the reduction of mismatch rates, ensuring employer compliance, and establishing better safeguards for employees’ personal information. Immigration lawyers are skeptical.
At US CIS ( US Citizenship & Immigration Services under US Department of Homeland Security)
I-9 Form & Instructions
How Do I Complete Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification?
Information about E-Verify
How Do I Use E-Verify?
E-Verify for Federal Contractors
E-Verify User Manual for Fed Contractors (Sept 2010)
E-Verify Supplement for Fed Contractors (Sept 2010) 
At US ICE (US Customs and Immigration Enforcement under US Department of Homeland Security)
Worksite Enforcement
I-9 Inspection Overview
I-9 Inspection Overview Flowchart 12/1/09
Subpoena to Produce Documents, see p.2
Factsheet – Statistics about raids, arrests, government successes
Worksite Enforcement Cases

At SSA (US Social Security Administration)
What Employee should do when Employer gets No-Match letter
Instructions to Verify Social Security Numbers Online
Restrictions on Using SSNVS
SSN Verification Handbook Online
What to do if an SSN Fails to Verify Online

At AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association)
ICE Workplace Enforcement


Please contact the attorneys at Ryvin Wallace Group to answer your questions by calling 1-703-531-0790 or 1-415-765-0679end_of_the_skype_highlightig . You will be offered a free 15 minute consultation where we obtain key facts and move you in the right direction.  

2013 Green Card (Diversity Visa) Lottery Information and Link to Entry Form

The U.S. Department of State has published instructions relating to its upcoming Diversity Visa (Green Card) Lottery for the 2013 fiscal year.  For DV-2013, natives of the following countries are not eligible to apply because the countries sent a total of more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the previous five years:

Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Columbia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haita, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam. 

Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible. For DV-2013, natives of South Sudan and Poland are now eligible for selection, while Bangladesh natives are now ineligible.

Paper entries will not be accepted. Entries for the DV-2013 DV program must be submitted electronically between noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), Tuesday, October 4, 2011, and noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), Saturday, November 5, 2011.

Applicants may access the electronic DV Entry Form (E-DV) at during the registration period. No entries will be accepted after noon, EDT, on November 5, 2011.