Five tips to prepare for your green card interview

This post will give you some practical tips for preparing for your green card interview.  This advice applies to people who are applying for a green card based upon marriage to an American citizen although some of the tips may be used by anyone preparing for a green card interview.

It should go without saying that that the marriage upon which the petition is based, must be real, not entered into solely for the purpose of obtaining a green card.  If it is not a real marriage, these tips will not help.

1.  Bring all items requested by CIS to your interview

When you are scheduled for your interview, CIS will send you a letter informing you of the date and time of your interview.  The letter will indicate what items are necessary to bring to the interview.  You should bring all items requested unless they were previously submitted to CIS.  Be sure to bring all original items such as marriage certificates, divorce papers, and birth certificates.

2.  Bring proof of your good faith marriage

You absolutely need to bring proof that you have a real relationship – that you and your partner are living together and are establishing a life together.  Such proof may consist of joint checking/savings accounts, joint filing of income taxes, car insurance, health insurance, joint credit cards, rental agreement/deed of house, itineraries of trips,  and photos.  There is no such thing as bringing too much proof to your interview.  The more the better.  Be sure to bring one copy of everything for the CIS officer and keep one copy of everything you submit for yourself.  You want to remember what you gave them.

You do not need to be wealthy to have a lot of joint evidence.  Yes, it is better to bring proof of bank accounts, but only if you use them.  If you do not use them, you should be prepared to explain that you do not have joint accounts and describe how you pay for things.  You should also consider bringing other sources of proof that you and your partner are together.   For instance, cell phone bills showing how much time you spend talking to each other on the phone.  If you have MySpace or Facebook accounts in which you reference each other, you should print pages out and bring them.  You may also bring letters from family and friends who know both of you and who can attest that you have a real marriage.

3.  Place your photos in an album

The CIS officer is not able to watch a DVD and is not going to log onto the internet to look at your pictures online.  You will make it easier for the officer to approve your case by printing out your pictures and placing them into an album.  The officer will look at the album during your interview.  Be sure to include pictures with friends, family and pets.

4.  Review your application ahead of time

Review your application (Form I-485) and make sure you understand all of the questions and that all of the answers are still the same.  If you have moved or traveled since the time you have filed the application, write down the information so you will have it handy to recite to the officer at your interview.

5.  Leave your cell phone at home or in the car

In San Francisco you are not permitted to bring a cell phone with a camera inside of the building.  In San Jose, you are not permitted to bring any kind of cell phone into the building.  Every CIS office has its own policy.  People find themselves having to return to their car or having to leave a cell phone across the street at a restaurant because they have a cell phone with them.  It causes last minute stress which could have been avoided.  Do yourself a favor and leave the phone at home.

Good luck at your interview!

About Geri Kahn

California Immigration lawyer and disability lawyer with offices in Benicia and San Francisco. For more information, check out my website: gerikahn.com.
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