The term green card refers to a permanent residence card in the United States. It is a document which shows the individual who holds the card has been granted permanent residency in the U.S.
An individual who holds a green card is known as a lawful permanent resident. There are numerous ways in which an individual may apply for a green card, including:
- A job offer;
- Refugee status;
- Asylum status; and/or
- A number of other specific provisions which are outlined here.
A green card marriage is a marriage between a United States citizen and a non-citizen. The non-citizen spouse may be granted Conditional Permanent Resident status.
Conditional Permanent Resident status may be later replaced by Lawful Permanent Resident (“LPR”) status. LPR status allows an individual to permanently and legally live and work in the United States.
How Does a Green Card Marriage Work?
A green card marriage may occur in the United States or it may occur abroad. If the married couple resides in the United States, the citizen spouse may apply with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for an Adjustment of Status for their spouse.
In general, the couple will be required to submit proof of their marriage. In addition, they will be required to provide proof that shows the marriage was not entered into fraudulently or for the sole purpose of deceiving immigration officials.
There are also some requirements placed on the non-citizen spouse. These include having a clean criminal record and being in the United States with a current and valid visa.
What is an Immigration Marriage Interview?
When a United States citizen gets married to a non-United States citizen, they will be required to participate in a marriage interview. The non-United States citizen will be required to go through this interview in order to obtain permanent residency status.
This marriage interview is used by the USCIS to determine the legitimacy of the marriage. Marriage immigration fraud is surprisingly common, so immigration authorities keep their eyes out for these types of issues.
Who is a Permanent Resident Alien?
Permanent resident aliens are individuals who are not citizens of the United States that are living in the U.S. under a valid and recognized immigration visa which grants them permanent resident status to live and work in the United States indefinitely. In general, proof of the individual’s permanent residence status is shown by the possession of a permanent resident card, or a green card.
Permanent resident status can also refer to an immigrant who has entered into the United States under a conditional residency status and has had their status adjusted to permanent resident status.
A lawful permanent resident may be referred to by other names, including:
- A resident alien permit holder;
- A green card holder; and
- A permanent resident alien.
As a permanent resident, an individual receives many privileges and abilities which are inherently granted to United States citizens. Permanent resident aliens may work at any job legally within the United States as well as own property.
Permanent resident aliens are not required to return to their home country. In addition, so long as the individual’s green card remains valid, as a permanent resident, they may travel to and from their home country at any time.
Permanent resident status may also provide the individual with the opportunity to apply for United States citizenship.
What are the Rights of Permanent Residents?
As previously noted, permanent residents have similar rights as those individuals who were born in the United States have inherently, including the right to:
- Live permanently in any location in the United States. As long as the individual’s permanent status is not lost by abandonment or removal, also known as deportation;
- Legally work within the United States, although certain jobs are limited to natural-born
- United States citizens;
- Own property;
- Apply for a driver’s license in the individual’s state;
- Attend public schools and colleges;
- Purchase or own a firearm, so long as there are not local laws that say the individual cannot own a firearm;
- Travel to and from the U.S.; and
- It is important to note that if an individual leaves the United States for an extended period of time or moves to another country with an intent to live there permanently, it will likely result in abandonment of an individual’s permanent residency status.
- The individual is afforded all of the protections of the laws of the United States.
How is the Interview Conducted?
In general, immigration officials conduct their interviews with one spouse at a time. An official will interview the United States citizen spouse first and then the non-United States citizen spouse.
USCIS officials will attempt to confirm that the individual and their spouse are, in fact, living as a married couple would be expected to.
What Will We Be Asked During the Interview?
The questions that individuals will be asked during their interviews depend upon their individual circumstances. The questions may cover several different areas of the individual’s lives, including personal information about the individual’s spouse, such as:
- Date of birth;
- Location of birth;
- The name of their parents;
- Body description;
- Scars; and
It is important to note that an individual may be asked seemingly obscure questions such as how their spouse prefers their coffee. There will also be questions about the individuals’ life together and their relationship, such as:
- How the individual and their spouse met;
- If they lived together before getting married; and
- Where the individual and their spouse lives.
It is important to note that there may be detailed questions such as when and where the garbage is picked up. There may also be questions about the individuals’ wedding, such as:
- Who attended the wedding;
- Where was the wedding held;
- What was the weather like on the wedding day; and
- Whether the couple exchanged rings
There may also be questions regarding what the individuals did that day prior to their interview, such as:
- What time they woke up that day;
- Who woke up first; and
- What did they eat for breakfast?
What Can I Do to Prepare for the Marriage Interview?
There are several steps that individuals may take to assist them with preparing for their marriage interview. The first thing an individual should do is collect and compile all of the documents which prove that their marriage is legitimate.
This many include documents such as:
- Paper documents;
- Notes; and
- The marriage certificate.
The individuals should also review and be prepared to provide their financial information, including:
- Mutual assets;
- Bank accounts; and
- Tax returns.
Even if an individual has previously submitted this information to the authorities, they may be questioned about them so it is best to thoroughly review them. In addition, the individuals should explain any changes or updates which have occurred since their application was filed.
This may include events such as:
- The birth of a child;
- Changes in employment;
- Changes in residences; and
- Other major life events.
The official conducting the interview will likely refer to answers which the individuals provided in their application forms. Therefore, it is important to review those application forms before the interview.
Should I Get a Lawyer For My Marriage Interview?
It is important to consult with an immigration attorney to prepare for your marriage interview. Even if you and your spouse have been married for years, the questions you may be asked in a marriage interview are endless.
Your attorney will help you prepare for your marriage interview by helping you determine what to review, conducting mock interviews, and providing suggestions regarding techniques to use during the interview. It is important to ensure that the USCIS does not suspect you of fraud, so this interview is very important.