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What to Expect if You Are Separated from Your Spouse at Your Green Card Interview

Most marriage-based green card interviews before USCIS are conducted with both the husband and the wife in the interview room at the same time.  It is, however, possible for the parties to be separated.  The purpose of separating the spouses is for the officer to be able to determine if the immigrant and his or her spouse have a valid marriage or if the marriage is one of convenience for the sole purpose of obtaining the green card.  If the parties are separated, they will each be asked the same questions.  The officer does not know what the answers to the questions should be.  When the officer compares the answers from both parties, however, the officer will expect the answers to be the same for those individuals who have a “real” or “bonafide” marriage.  If the answers do not match, the officer will likely believe that the parties are committing immigration fraud.

Examples of the types of questions that are likely to be asked are:

  • The engagement (when was the proposal, which party proposed, where did it happen, etc.)
  • The wedding (who attended, a description of the ceremony, post-wedding activities, the honeymoon, etc.)
  • Details about your residence
  • How you celebrate various holidays
  • Any tattoos or other identifying marks on the immigrant or his or her spouse
  • Details about your last few days prior to the interview

If the officer is satisfied that the answers from both parties are similar enough to be true, then it is likely that the officer will recommend the case for approval.  If the office is dissatisfied at the end of the separated interview, the officer will likely issue a Notice of Intent to Deny.  In the Notice of Intent to Deny, the officer will identify the areas of concern and inconsistencies which make the officer believe that the application is not approvable.  The immigrant will then be given thirty (30) days to explain why the application should be approved despite the officer’s reservations.  The immigrant can provide an explanation for any inconsistencies or additional evidence to explain the inconsistencies.  For example, if the offer asked what color the parties’ shower curtain was and one party said blue and the other said green, it would appear that the parties do not shower in the same bathroom.  However, in responding to a Notice of Intent to Deny, if the parties can provide a photograph of the shower curtain to show that it is both blue and green, this may overcome the shadow of doubt contained in the Notice of Intent to Deny.

After responding to the Notice of Intent to Deny, the application will either be approved and the green card will be sent in the mail, or it will be denied.  A decision will then have to be made about the best way to overturn the negative decision.

The attorneys at Tanner Law Offices, LLC have assisted many clients at separated interviews and in responding to Notices of Intent to Deny.  We will be happy to work with you in meeting your immigration needs.  Please contact our office at 717-836-0471 to schedule an appointment to discuss the specifics of your case.