Green Card Interview: How to Prepare, What to Expect, Interview Questions

Vivien Thuri
05.07.21
8 minute read

Interviews - they’re about as popular as public speaking and the dentist. But with a little preparation, your chances of acing them are much higher.

In the process of getting a green card, one of the last steps is the green card interview. This is done to make sure the information you provided in your application is true.

If you’re in the process of getting your green card, then read along as we cover the green card interview in depth. At the end of the article, you’ll also read about Wise and how it can help you to save money when paying for your green card.

📝 Table of Contents
  • What to expect at a green card interview
  • How to prepare for the green card interview
  • Green card interview questions
  • Steps after the green card interview
  • What to expect at a green card interview

    The purpose of the green card -also known as the Adjustment of Status (AOS)- interview is to confirm that what you included in your application is true.

    It also gives you the chance to amend any parts of your application that have changed since you filed it, for example, a new employer or different address. ¹

    The end goal of the AOS interview and the interview questions, are to confirm that you are eligible for a green card.

    📚 Who you’re interviewed by depends on where you’re applying from.
  • If you’re already in the US, then the interviewing officer will be a USCIS immigration officer at a USCIS centre.
  • If you’re applying from outside the US, then it’ll be with a consular officer at the US embassy or consulate of your country.
  • When will you have a green card interview

    The green card interview is the last step in the green card application process. When it happens depends on your situation, but the USCIS will send you the date, location and time of your interview. ²

    Does everyone get an interview for a green card?

    Generally speaking, almost everyone will have to do a green card interview.

    But there are some instances in which the USCIS will waive an interview, such as if you’re obviously ineligible for a green card or if you’re the parent of a US citizen.

    Basically, if the USCIS thinks an interview is unnecessary, they can waive it. But equally, they can still choose to interview you even if you’re eligible for a waiver. ³

    How to prepare for the green card interview

    (happy-man-learning-studying-paper)
    As the saying goes: Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!

    And the green card interview is no different. But as long as you understand what questions you’ll be asked and what documents to bring along, you’ll be well on your way to success.

    What documents you need to bring to the interview

    The documents you need to bring to the interview are almost the same no matter your circumstances. But there is a small difference between those applying from outside the US versus those applying from within.

    Additionally, if any of your circumstances have changed since you filed your application then you need to bring the new supporting evidence of that change with you.

    Applying for a green card from outside of the US

    If you’re applying from outside the US, you’ll go through the process of “Consular Processing”. Simply, your application is processed through the US embassy or consulate in your country.

    For Consular Processing applicants, you’ll need to bring:
  • Form I-797C (Notice of Action)
  • Full copy of your Consular Processing application package. This will be DS-260, alongside any other forms you filed, such as Form I-130, I-130A, I-864, DS-5540
  • Form I-693 and doctor’s report from your medical exam
  • Your passport, unless applying under refugee/asylee status. If the passport you used for your application has expired, you need to bring a copy of the expired version and current version
  • Original copies of all documents you submitted, such as birth, marriage and death certificates
  • For marriage-based green cards, original copies of all documents showing your marriage is genuine, such as marriage certificates, birth certificates of your children, and joint-finance statements. ⁴
  • Applying for a green card within the US

    If you’re applying from within the US, you’ll go through the process of “Adjustment of Status”. Basically, this just means that you’re adjusting your current visa.

    For Adjustment of Status applicants, you’ll need to bring:
  • Form I-797C - Notice of Action
  • Full copy of your Adjustment of Status application package. This will be Form I-485, alongside any other forms you might filed, such as Form I-130, I-130A, I-765, I-864, or I-944
  • Form I-131 - Advance Parole - travel document if you’ve traveled outside of the US after submitting your application
  • Form I-693 and doctor’s report from your medical exam
  • Your passport, unless applying under refugee/asylee status. If the passport you used for your application has expired, you need to bring a copy of the expired version and current version
  • Original copies of all documents you submitted, such as birth, marriage and death certificates
  • For marriage-based green cards, original copies of all documents showing your marriage is genuine, such as marriage certificates, birth certificates of your children, and joint-finance statements ²
  • Who can you bring to your interview

    If you’re not fluent in English, then you’re eligible to bring an interpreter with you. The interpreter must:

    1. Bring government-issued ID
    2. Complete the interpreter’s oath and sign a privacy release statement
    3. Translate word-for-word without changing what is said, to the best of their ability ⁵

    You can also bring a lawyer if you have prior legal or immigration related issues on your record. ⁶

    Green card interview questions

    In general, questions are about residential, family, work, education, immigration and criminal history.

    On top of that, if you’re applying through a specific eligibility criteria such as marriage, then there’ll be further questions about that criteria.
    (wooden-question-mark)

    Typical interview questions

    You’ll likely be asked some general questions about the personal information you provided as well as security questions. These are normally something along the lines of:

    • When is your birthday?
    • Where were you born?
    • Where do you currently live?
    • Are you part of a terrorist organisation? - Yes, they can be as blunt as that!

    More specific questions will be about the category through which you’ve claimed green card eligibility.

    There are lots of different situations in which you’re eligible for a green card. Here are a few:

    1. Through family
    2. Through marriage
    3. Through employment
    4. As a refugee/asylee
    5. Through ‘special immigrant’ status ⁷
    📚 The USCIS may ask you slightly different questions depending through which category you’ve applied for your green card.
  • For example, if you’ve applied for a marriage-based green card, then you’ll be asked questions about the history of your marriage and will need to provide evidence of it.
  • Similarly, if you’re getting your green card through refugee/asylee status, then you’ll be asked questions about whether you really need a green card to ensure your safety.
  • Here are some examples of marriage-based green card interview questions:

    • What are the names of your spouse’s parents?
    • Where did you get married?
    • When and where was your spouse born?
    • What is your spouse currently working on at their job?

    Similarly, for an employment-based green card, the interviewing officer will ask questions along the lines of:

    • When did you graduate?
    • What does the company you work for do?
    • What is your current salary?
    • What will be your job at the company?

    So, on top of making sure the information you provided is accurate, the interviewing officer will also be checking that the eligibility criteria you’re using is suitable.

    Tips for your green card interview

    Diamonds are made under pressure, right? But seriously, although the interview can seem daunting, as long as you’re prepared and honest, then you have nothing to worry about.

    Here are some tips that will help you ace the interview:

    1. Honesty is the best policy - answer questions as precisely and honestly as possible, and if you aren’t sure about something, be honest and tell the officer
    2. Review your application - go over all the documents and evidence you submitted and be familiar with it
    3. Don’t be embarrassed - officers want the truth and will sometimes ask very personal questions
    4. Go over your story - if you’re applying through family or marriage, make sure you go over key events and facts about your relationship with the other person, just to make sure you’ve got your story straight
    5. Bring extra evidence - if you have other, new documents that would help confirm the validity of your marriage, for example, then it doesn’t hurt to bring them along ⁸

    Steps after the green card interview

    Great job! You’ve done all the hard stuff. Now all you have to do is put your feet up and wait.

    After your interview, you’ll receive the result and, if your application was successful, then you’ll get your green card in the mail.

    After the interview

    After the interview, there are five possible outcomes.

    1. Approved
    2. Denied
    3. Additional review
    4. Second interview
    5. Request for Evidence (RFE)

    The official USCIS website lists only approval, denial and Request for Evidence (RFE) as the outcomes, but other advice articles also include additional review and second interview as possibilities. ⁹

    How long does it take to get a green card after the interview?

  • For Adjustment of Status applicants, if your green card interview was successful, then you’ll get your green card within 30 days of receiving a permanent resident welcome notice. ¹⁰
  • For Consular Processing applicants, you’ll receive your green card within 45 days of your arrival. ¹¹
  • Wise can save you money when you pay the fees for your green card by offering you the mid-market exchange rate. No hidden fees, no markup!

    Pay what you see with Wise 🚀

    Overall, the green card interview is the same as any interview.

    You need to be prepared and should always be honest with your answers. But you don’t need to stress over it any more than normal.

    As long as you follow this advice, you should be well on your way to get your green card.

    The very last step

    Your green card is in your pocket and you're ready to move. But wait!

    There's something else you should consider. Remember that you have to move your savings from the country you live in at the moment to the US.

    Opening a bank account could take a long time and you'll need your money as fast as possible to start your life in the Land of Opportunities. Open a multi-currency account with Wise and save up to 7x more compared to standard financial institutions.

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    Sources:
    1. USCIS - Interview Guidelines
    2. USCIS - Adjustment of Status; Point 6 - go to your interview
    3. USCIS - Waiving the Interview
    4. Travel.State.Gov - Prepare for the Interview; Point 3
    5. USCIS - Interview Guidelines; Interpreters
    6. USCIS - Adjudicator's Field Manual pdf.
    7. USCIS - Green card eligibility categories
    8. Non official sources, such as: Qoura - what is a green card interview like; Immihelp - green card interview experience
    9. Non official sources, such as: Boundless - Marriage green card explained; Immigration help - What happens after your green card interview
    10. USCIS - After receiving a decision
    11. USCIS - Consular processing
    12. USCIS - Immigrant fee

    All sources checked on 7 May 2021


    This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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