inside immigration information about marriage green cards and work visas in America


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marriage green cardThe marriage green card immigration interview that couples are required to attend in order to get the foreign spouse their marriage green card (lawful permanent residence) through marriage can be very anxiety producing.

This stressful situation can be managed somewhat by thoroughly preparing. The marriage green card interview notice you receive in the mail has an exhaustive list of the documents you will bring with you, so follow it very carefully.

Whether the marriage green card interview is held in San Diego or elsewhere, the marriage green card interviews are conducted the same way.  On the day of the marriage green card immigration interview, dress as if you are going to a job interview or to church. Remember that you will be entering a federal building and going through a metal detector. Most of the time the immigration officers allow you to carry your cell phone, but ask you to turn it off.

The U.danielle nelisse customer reviewsS. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Immigration Officers are only given a certain amount of time to interview each couple – usually only 10-30 minutes – at the marriage green card immigration interview.

If you are well organized and not too talkative, they appreciate it. Keep all of your answers short and to the point. If the Immigration Officer needs more information, they will ask you a follow-up question. Do not be intimidated by the silence when the Immigration Officer is trying to focus or try to fill the silence with polite conversation.

Try to keep in mind that this is possibly the first time the Immigration Officer has seen your marriage green card immigration file and they cannot listen or respond to idle chit chat while concentrating on reading. It is perfectly acceptable to sit quietly and wait to be asked a question.

What Original Documents Do I Bring?

marriage green cardThe original documents you are supposed to bring are listed on the interview appointment notice. The purpose of bringing original documents to the marriage green card interview is so that the USCIS Officer can compare them to the copies of documents that you already mailed with your original adjustment of status (green card) application, to ensure that the copies you sent are accurate.

The Immigration Officer usually does not keep the originals after comparing them to the copies.

However, if a copy of document was not already provided with the marriage green card application, try to remember to make a copy ahead of time to give to the Immigration Officer (they resent it if you treat them like your personal copy clerk).

For example, if you had a baby after you sent your I-485 adjustment of status (marriage green card) application in the mail, you would bring both the original birth certificate of the baby and a copy of the birth certificate of the baby to leave with the Immigration Officer.

Are the Documents Requested Different for a Same Sex Married Couple?

same sex marriage green cardAfter DOMA was struck down, I am often asked whether Immigration Officers conduct same sex marriage green card interviews differently for same sex married couples.

The answer is no, but there are different aspects of “proof of marriage” evidence that may make proving that a same sex couple lives together a bit more difficult in some gay marriage cases.

What Questions Will I Be Asked?

There are no test questions during the marriage green card interview that you have to memorize – simply tell the truth. the Immigration Officer will be asking two category of questions: (1) questions that are on the forms that you submitted and (2) questions about your marital relationship.

For example, the Immigration Officer may ask this I-485 question: What was the date that you last entered the U.S.? to check to see that your answer matches what you put on your I-485 Form, Page 1, for your Date of Last Arrival.

If you filed your marriage green card application too soon after an arrival on a B2 visa, the Immigration Officer may ask you questions about your “intent upon entry.”  If you filed your marriage green card application after overstaying your B2 or other type of visa, the Immigration Officer may also ask questions about your “intent.”

FYI when you respond to a question, it is a sign of respect to say, “Yes, Officer” or “No Officer” instead of just “Yeah.”

If you have been married less than two years on the date of the marriage green card interview, the Immigration Officer may only ask you a minimum number of questions about your courtship and marriage because they will only be granting the two year conditional marriage green card.

If you have been married more than two years on the date of the marriage green card interview the Immigration Officer is likely to ask you many questions about your courtship and your marriage because they are granted the ten year marriage green card.

Common questions at the marriage green card interview might be: How did you meet? What is your wife’s middle name? What is your husband’s siblings/parents’ names? Are you planning on having children?  Who proposed?  How long after meeting did you start dating?  Did you live together before the wedding?  What do you like doing together? 

Here is a 2012 case where it almost went badly:   RECENT GREEN CARD MARRIAGE CASE – READ JUDGE’S OPINION IN REAL CASE

What Other Documents Do I Bring to Prove We Live Together?

The interview appointment notice also lists the documents you should bring that prove you live together.  The Immigration Officer may refer to these documents as “proof of the bona fides of marriage.” Before the marriage green card interview, copy all of your updated financial and proof of marriage documents listed on the interview notice onto pieces of 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper. The Immigration Officer is trying to organize your file and small receipts, paystubs or odd shaped paperwork are hard for them to organize neatly.

Try to organize your “proof of marriage” documents so that you can hand them to the Immigration Officer in one stack, instead of one piece of paper at a time.

For example,if the Officer asks for proof of marriage, hand the officer the entire stack of proof of marriage documents clipped together (they don’t like fancy cover sheets or binders). FYI, the proof of marriage documents are intended to prove you are really living together (which therefore proves you are married).

What About Photographs?

When submitting photographs to prove your marital relationship, make color copies of 20-30 photographs with the date, location (city, state and country), and names of people, written on the underneath the copies. For example, try to fit 2-3 photographs on each 8 1/2 x 11 inch piece of paper and carefully write the information mentioned above either to the side or underneath each photograph.  Try to put the photos in chronological order from the time you met until the present time.

Keep in mind that the Immigration Officer will punch two holes in the documents at the top edge of the page, so that if you place the photos too close to the top edge the photos may be punched with holes. Select a variety of photographs dated from the time you met each other to the present date, and include photos of each of you with the others’ family or friends.

Photos of the wedding ceremony and wedding reception, as well as family holidays, are also important. As you can see, while it is nice to bring your wedding photo album to the interview, the Immigration Officer cannot fit the album into your file and it is better to have a photo spread on 8 1/2″ x 11″ pieces of paper that fits neatly into your immigration file that you can leave with the Immigration Officer.

What If I Forget to Bring Something or I Don’t Have It?

If the Immigration Officer determines that a document is missing, they will tell you at the end of the marriage green card interview exactly which document is missing. The Immigration Officer will give you a piece of paper listing the document(s) they need and where to mail the missing items.

When the green card is not granted at an immigration interview because a document is missing, a second immigration interview is usually not scheduled.

same sex marriage green cardYou will be required to send the missing document by mail by the deadline established by the Immigration Officer or your entire marriage green card case can be denied. It is best to use certified or overnight mail so that you have proof that you sent the missing document by the deadline.

A written decision about your marriage green card is usually mailed to you by the Immigration Officer after they receive and review the missing paperwork you send to them in the mail. Sometimes it takes up to 6 months for the Immigration Officer to respond after you mail them the missing documents.

Will I Find Out the Results of the Green Card Interview on the Same Day?

If all goes well at the marriage green card interview, the Immigration Officer will tell you that the marriage green card is granted as of that day. If granting the marriage green card, the Immigration Officer may take your work and travel permit (which are not needed when a person has a green card).

You are not usually given anything to prove your green card has been approved (for some reason they will no longer stamp your passport upon marriage green card approval), but the laminated I-551 green card is normally mailed to your home address within in 2-3 weeks.

QUESTIONS ABOUT HAVING AN ATTORNEY HELP YOU?   If you still are nervous about your marriage green card interview, or perhaps your case has complications such as criminal convictions or an illegal entry, you may wish to have an immigration attorney either conduct a practice marriage green card interview (in person or over the phone) or go with you to the marriage green card interview.

HELPFUL TIP: If your marriage green card interview is scheduled prior to being married for two years, keep copies of the proof of marriage documents that you submit to the Immigration Officer on the day of the marriage green card interview. You will need them again later to file with your I-751 Petition.

NEW STRATEGY:  Immigration officers are now checking FACEBOOK PAGES and are also allowed to ask you to give them your phones to check your text messages to each other.


Call Attorney Danielle Nelisse at (619) 235-8811 in  Kihei, Maui, Hawaii if you want to discuss legal representation for your marriage green card case.


  1. Kaika Houdek
    December 7, 2016

    Hello, I have some questions:
    I got married to my husbad (U.S Citizen). I came to the US lawfully by a work Visa but I overstayed 2 years.
    I have worked during those two years.
    I haven’t paid taxes during that, but I am planning to pay those two years. Do you recommend to do it before or after we summit our application? Or what we should do?
    Our ages are differentiated by 7 years (We both are men)
    Our families doesn’t know each other because my family is very homophobic so they don’t accept it.
    I know his family and his family knows me well, they don’t really agree with gay marriage but they respect us and we could say that we have a good relationship.
    We have a dog together and proofs that we are together.
    Is there any possibility that we can adjust my immigration status?
    Thank you so much!
    P.S This is a great blog!

    • immigrationworkvisa
      January 18, 2017

      Hi Kaika,

      Thanks for the kind words!

      Sorry, but these are too many questions to answer that require answers to some questions I have for you.

      You can call me at (619) 235-8811 to ask me these questions and I don’t charge for the phone conversation.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  2. Curtis
    December 30, 2013

    My wife’s current status is for F1 Student Visa. We filed for the Conditional Green Card a number of months ago, but did not apply for advanced parole. Her sister had a baby on Dec. 26th and we’d like to go visit her as soon as possible. We have our interview on Jan. 9th and we were wondering if everything goes well, could she potentially be approved the same day and we would be able to travel outside the U.S. that same weekend? If not, is there any way to apply on the day of the interview for special permission to travel under these circumstances?

    • immigrationworkvisa
      December 31, 2013

      Dear Curtis,

      Sometimes the interviewing immigration officers are able to allow immediate travel in certain circumstances, and sometimes they are not. I am sorry I cannot give you a definitive answer. If her green card is approved on the day of the interview, it normally takes 2-3 weeks for it to arrive in the mail.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  3. abed
    November 2, 2013

    My wife and I went to the family based interview on October 15 ,2013
    Everything went well.
    We have been married for 2 years and a half, we have a child together
    At the end of the interview the officer told us that she is going to review my case and then send a decision by mail within five weeks, she took my valid I-94 and walked us out

    Is it normal nowadays not to give a decision on the spot?
    We gave her alot of evidence of our marriage, so what could have caused the delay , its been almost 3 weeks after the interview ,and there is no single update from USCIS?

    • immigrationworkvisa
      November 6, 2013

      Dear Abed,

      These delays happen. If you haven’t heard anything after 30 days, I would consider contacting your local Congress Representative and asking them to inquire – they don’t charge to do so and it doesn’t seem to negatively impact immigration cases.

      Kind regards, Danielle

  4. Joan
    October 10, 2013

    THank you for taking the time to respond. I gladly appreciate it and will contact a lawyer in the New York area where i live.Thank You.

  5. zoya
    August 20, 2013

    hi my interview was done on 15 of may. later IO tell us to submit some of the documents. i submit those documents in time. how much time does it take for the results

    • immigrationworkvisa
      August 27, 2013

      Dear Zoya,
      Sometimes it takes 60-90 days to get an answer in your situation.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  6. Dima
    August 6, 2013

    Hi! Thank you for such informative article. I have 2 questions.

    1. Today, only 1,5 month after I filed my case I’ve got the request to appear on interview in 1 month. So only 2,5 months will pass by the moment I may get my green card. It’s such a short period. Everybody says that (including official USCIS site) average term is 5-6 months between filing and interview. So is it good or bad sign for me? It’s a little bit weird, isn’t it? (I live in LA).

    2. We didn’t expect interview so soon. That’s why we were not in rush about all kinds of documents. We share apartment with my friend and we are planning to rent our own apartment later when I get my work permission. That’s why we don’t have lease contract and the bills don’t include our names, we don’t have morgage, credits, any joint property and so on. We are not married so long to have all this stuff. Yes, we can do photo and we have joint bank account but it’s supposed to be not enough for an officer. What could you recomend in this situation?

    Thank you very much!!!

    • immigrationworkvisa
      August 8, 2013

      Dear Dima,

      Yes this summer (2013) the USCIS has sped up the marriage green card interview to be scheduled around 3 months after filing.

      With regard to presenting proof of living together, all I can say is do the best you can!

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  7. Anna
    August 5, 2013

    Hi, In general…Does 26 yrs in age difference matters, will it caused a red flag?

    • immigrationworkvisa
      August 6, 2013

      Hi Anna,
      Yes, a 26 years age difference can raise a red flag.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  8. Elena
    July 20, 2013

    Hello! In general, are there any subjectivity as far as black/white intermarriages? Thanks in advance!

  9. Jay
    May 14, 2013

    My question is: is it normal to have a GC interview for 10 yrs GC even we have sent the USCIS all the documents as well as proof of strong marriage after 2 years.

  10. Jana
    March 15, 2013

    Hi, we had our interview 3 weeks ago for the 10 year green card and the officer was really nice but couldn’t approve it right away because my husband the US Citizen is a sex offender. So he asked me if I knew and I did and he said that we looked fine to him but he needed to talk to his supervisor before he could approve it. He also said if we didn’t hear from him in 2 days was because my green card got approved and for it in the mail in 2 weeks. Well its been 3 weeks now and im worried, should we schedule an infopass?

    • immigrationworkvisa
      March 17, 2013

      Dear Jana,

      With all due respect, I would recommend paying an immigration attorney in your area for a legal consultation before going back to the USCIS and saying anything that might harm your case.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  11. Anonymous
    February 23, 2013

    After reading so many horror stories online, my husband and i were preparing for the worst. I am not sure if my experience is a geographic specificity but we were not asked to bring any documents to our interview except for a valid form of id. Also, our interviewer was very polite and even helpful during the process. My husband was asked to mail a single official document to the interviewer. Other than that everything seemed to go smoothly. We were asked the typical, non intrusive questions about our marriage. The whole thing took less than half an hour. We are confident thatwe will recieve approval soon. I am wondering if my case is typical. Or if we just got really lucky.

    • immigrationworkvisa
      March 12, 2013

      Dear Anonymous,

      This sounds like the typical marriage green card interview. However, we never know when we are going to get the cranky officer! All I can say is try to bring more documents than you think you’ll need.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  12. syamout
    December 11, 2012

    The article is great, Thank you! I sent my original Birth Certificate and only have a copy with me. Is that ok? Do i just get the copy or do i need to file for a new birth certificate to take to the interview?

    • immigrationworkvisa
      January 4, 2013

      Dear Syamout:

      Thank you for your kind words. You are not supposed to mail your original birth certificate to the USCIS – only a copy. I would recommend getting another original to bring to the interview and for other purposes, if that is possible.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  13. Anonymous
    December 4, 2012

    I had an interview and the officer said he needs to review the application again to make a decision. And then he gave me a paper which says ” additional review needed. No documents is required from you at this time. You may inquire the case status after 180 days.”. What does that exactly means? Does that mean they are coming to my house to investigate? Or they gonna make a deicision soon?

    • immigrationworkvisa
      January 4, 2013

      Dear Anonymous:

      Yes, it could mean all of the things you mentioned. If they do come to your house, they have been known to come at 5 a.m. to see if you both live there, and if all of your belongings are there. They can also interview the neighbors and go to your workplace.

      Or, it could mean they are going to approve the case after the supervisor looks at it. There is no way for an immigration attorney to find out.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  14. Debby Barrett-de Vries
    July 14, 2012

    Hello, my name is Debby. Im a dutch citizen. Last year I got married to an US citizen. We are very much in love and we are awaiting my AOS approval.

    Im worried about the interview.
    We hardly go out (we simply don’t have the money after all the costs of paperwork, moval and status adjustment), we actually havent made any pics after the k1 procedure (my cam broke down and we havent bought a new one yet, we want to keep our finances separate because of the ex-wife so we don’t have a mutual bank account, I pay and file all my taxes in the Netherlands, in the US we filed our tax return married but separately. We love eachother dearly, but what documents should we use to proof the officer that our marriage is for real? My household goods from the Netherlands are being shipped to the US in 2 weeks, so im getting really nervous because I don´t have an official resident status yet. I hope you can help me out…
    kind regards, and btw your site is incredibly helpfull !

    a little nervous wrecky….

    • immigrationworkvisa
      July 18, 2012

      Dear Debby:

      The officer is going to find it hard to believe that neither of you has a friend or family member or neighbor with a phone who can take a bunch of photos that can be printed out at a Fedex store — or that you can’t afford a cheap disposable camera. So bringing lots of photos to the marriage green card are a must and having little money is not a good excuse (sorry!).

      Ask friends/relatives to send you a bunch of cards in both names (save the envelopes AND the cards).

      Ask your husband to put you on ALL of his accounts (phone, cable, gas & electric), even if he adds your name like this:

      Husband’s Name
      ATT: Wife’s Name

      Come on, he can get creative and get more proof of living together!

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

      P.S. ATT: means “to the attention of”

      • Anonymous
        July 19, 2012

        Thanks for your answer! Will get a camera make a bunch of pics and make sure we get accounts on both our names. (Gosh do I hate that forced way of proving our love). Best regards, Debby

  15. DJ
    July 12, 2012

    Good Day to you,
    I was pulled over for DUI a week before I submitted my change of status papers for immigrant application. Since the application states: list criminal offense or arrest (besides traffic violation), I didn’t say yes. After going to court it was reduced to DWI (driving while impaired) the judge is kind enough not to give me community service and jail time but instead asked to pay the court fines, go to AA class and be on probation for a year.

    My worries is that this may complicate my application and under any circumstance be denied of immigrant visa. I am married to my wife for 6 years now with three kids and have no other records or what so ever before i was pulled over. Hope you can help me out and Thank you in advance.

    • immigrationworkvisa
      July 18, 2012

      Dear DJ:

      Please hire a reputable immigration attorney to help you – your case is now complicated due to the arrest, even though the criminal judge went easy on you.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  16. natasha
    June 19, 2012

    how long the interview for green card through marriage last? More than an hour? I am afraid even tho i know my husband and I are true and we love each other to death.

    • immigrationworkvisa
      June 19, 2012

      Dear Natasha:

      In general, the marriage green card interviews normally take approximately 15-20 minutes, although the marriage green card interview could take as little as 10 minutes, or as long as 1 hour or more in some cases.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  17. Ehab
    May 22, 2012

    Hi my name is Ehab, we are done with the ceremony we just need to get the Marriage certificate from the clerks office! what do we need to do to get a work permit before applying to the Green card ?

  18. quynhnguyen
    March 20, 2012

    hi, my name Quynh, i have a question, all my paper work for interview are ready,but i have a problem that my passport is expired. if my case is approved, should they stamp i-551 in my expired passport or i have to renew a new one,

    • immigrationworkvisa
      March 21, 2012

      Dear Quynh:
      I’m very glad you brought this topic up!

      Unfortunately, the Immigration Officers are no longer willing to stamp the marriage green card applicant’s passport when they approve the marriage green card. I revised my blog article to reflect the new policy. You can bring your expired passport to the marriage green card interview and are not required to renew it in order to get your marriage green card approved.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  19. Thuy Du
    March 12, 2012

    Is the US passport good for the petitioner when go to the interview?
    Also, what will happen if I sent the original of paperwork like tax return and didn’t make a copy of it? Is the original that I sent them good enough?

    Thank you,

    • immigrationworkvisa
      March 15, 2012

      Dear Thuy Du:

      The USA passport is supposed to be adequate proof that the petitioner is a U.S. citizen. However, I have had a picky officer delay the green card until the petitioner brought him his birth certificate. Birth certificates are available online now for all of the 50 states – so go ahead and order it in case you get THAT officer. Or, if the petitioner has a Certificate for Naturalization that is lost, he/she may need to request a duplicate. I would say that 90% of the time the USA passport has been good enough in my experience.

      With regard to the tax return, the officer does not usually ask to see another copy if he/she already got one. FYI you can order a copy of your tax return for free from the IRS on the phone – it is something you may need in the future for citizenship or other reasons.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  20. Anonymous
    December 23, 2011

    I have a friend that hold a two years greencard for conditional permanent resident as she married to american…but too bad their marriage dont seem work really good and they plan to divorce.the marriage isnt even two years question is: can she still be able to get the 10 years greencard eventho she already divorced?? or if she cancelled the greencard and decided to return back to her country..would she still be able to get a tourist visa for visiting USA in the future?? Thanks

  21. Anonymous
    August 18, 2011

    My name is Elvis , i was reading your articular about Marriage and Immigration to the US , i have a Fiancee she an american citizen and we have been see our self for almost 2years on the internet and we have plans for marriage . am from Nigeria , but i live and study Ukraine … now she is planing to come and meet me in Ukraine by the end of next month , hoping she wont us to leave back to the united state together , how can we go about it light on this will go a long way for us thanks ….

    • immigrationworkvisa
      August 18, 2011

      Dear Elvis:

      I am so sorry, but I don’t understand your question.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  22. Jordan
    February 12, 2011

    Simple and straight forward, the article is clear in black and white. thank you

  23. simone harvey
    August 18, 2010

    This is very precise and detailed info. This info is the best

  24. Anonymous
    July 16, 2010

    Yes, thank you for this useful informatoin!!!!

  25. Anonymous
    March 4, 2010

    very good thank you.

  26. Anonymous
    March 4, 2010

    ya good

  27. Leedir
    January 28, 2010

    This is a very informative article about the interview process. It always makes sense to hear the applicant’s perspective.

  28. Deepak
    November 13, 2009

    I like your article. It is very detailed and informative. Thanks.

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