When you packed your bags to emigrate from your country of origin to Florida, you may have felt excited and nervous at the same time. If, on top of relocating to a new country, you were also preparing for marriage, you may have had a thousand thoughts swirling in your mind, including being worried that you might miss an important legal step as you navigate the family immigration process.
When you marry a U.S. citizen, it’s possible that you’ll wind up receiving notice to appear at a Stokes interview. If your spouse has sponsored you so that you can apply for permanent residency, you must prove that you entered into your marriage in good faith. Many people in the past have committed fraud by entering marriages for the sole purpose of obtaining green cards. To avoid this, government officials can interview you and your spouse.
Phase one of a Stokes interview includes non-intrusive questions
When you and your spouse go to a USCIS office for a Stokes (or marriage) interview, an immigration official will ask you questions about your life together. During the initial interview, you can reasonably expect the line of questioning to be non-intrusive. Perhaps the interviewer will ask where you met your spouse or how long you dated before deciding to get married.
If any of your answers raises a red flag to the interviewer, you and your spouse may be required to schedule a second interview. During this meeting, the questions the interviewer asks may be far more intimate and personal than the ones you answered at the first interview.
A Stokes interview often lasts several hours
Immigration officials may lead you and your spouse to separate rooms to question you about your marriage. It is not uncommon for them to videotape such meetings. You’ll want to know as much about your spouse as possible if you hope to be able to answer questions such as what his or her favorite meal is, what color your bedroom is or what time your spouse typically goes to sleep at night.
After you and your spouse have both answered all the questions, immigration officials will compare your answers to check if they align. For instance, if you tell your interviewer that your spouse usually goes to sleep at 9 p.m. and your spouse tells an interviewer that he or she stays up until midnight most nights, interviewers may consider this suspicious.
What happens after your Stokes interview?
If there are discrepancies between your and your spouse’s answers to interview questions, officials may give you both a chance to explain. Upon clarification, if interviews are convinced that your marriage is legitimate, the U.S. government may grant your petition for a green card.
On the other hand, if immigration officials believe there is evidence that your marriage is not authentic, they may deny your petition and you may be at risk for deportation. Spouses facing such issues may reach out for legal support at any time.