Whether it was merely a few months or years ago that you met and fell in love with the person who is now your spouse, thinking back to that time might evoke mixed emotions. Perhaps, you were excited and joyful to think that you had found love and were planning a life together in the United States.

Maybe you chose Florida as the place to call home because you always wanted to live where the climate is warm and the seashore is near. Emigrating from another country to marry a U.S. citizen may have also made you feel a bit anxious, especially regarding all the paperwork and immigration processes you knew you’d have to navigate to accomplish your goals. If the U.S. government has questioned the legitimacy of your marriage, you might be feeling overwhelmed and afraid.

Be as prepared as possible

There’s no way to get out of a marriage interview if U.S. immigration officials have sent you notice to appear. If you’ve received notice and fail to appear, you’re at risk for serious legal problems. The best thing to do is to try to remain calm and prepare yourself for what lies ahead. A first logical step to take is to review your green card application to make sure everything you wrote is correct.

If you have moved to a different location or some other detail has changed since you filed your application, it’s important to let immigration officials know about it right away. You should expect to have to answer a lot of personal questions at the interview. You should also expect that you and your spouse may have to answer questions in separate rooms.

How much do you know about your spouse?

People can be married for 20 years or more and still not know everything there is to know about their spouse. However, if the U.S. government suspects that your marriage is a fraud (which is a common reason for a summons to appear at a marriage interview) you’ll want to know as much as you can about the person you married.

Your interviewer might ask questions such as what your spouse’s mother’s name is or how many siblings he or she has. You might also have to answer questions about your relationship with your spouse before marriage, such as how and where you met or where you went on your first date. Officials may even ask what color your bedroom is painted or what time your spouse usually goes to sleep at night.

If you don’t know an answer

The reason officials may separate you from your spouse to answer interview questions is so they can compare the answers you provide with your spouse’s answers. If there are inconsistencies, it may raise a red flag as to whether your marriage is legitimate or, perhaps, was secured as a means of obtaining permanent residence in the United States.

While it’s tempting to try to think quickly and come up with an answer if you aren’t sure about a specific question, it’s always best to tell the truth. Lying to a U.S. immigration official can wind up making matters a lot worse down the line, especially if the legitimacy of your marriage is in question.

Increase your chances for success

Since your goal is to convince your interviewers that your marriage is not a fraud, it’s helpful to bring evidence you have on hand to prove that your marriage is legitimate. Do you have photographs of your dating days before you wed your spouse? Do you have greeting cards or other written correspondence that you and your spouse have exchanged? These and other documents can help you prove that you are not trying to beat the system.

It’s also helpful to reach out for additional support ahead of time by seeking guidance on how to prepare for a marriage interview from someone well-versed in U.S. immigration law or, perhaps, a close friend or relative who has successfully navigated the interview process in the past.

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