One who has applied for adjustment of status (“AOS”) as the spouse of a US citizen will be invited to what is called an AOS interview at their local USCIS Office. In Tampa the alien files are screened for fraud indicators, i.e., evidence or material in the file that could show the presence of marital fraud, and then the officer conducts the interview. USCIS will also review public records evidence, to see if it tells them something different than the applicants are saying.
In some cases the officer will see each spouse separately, and will ask questions designed to discover if the marriage is real or is one entered into solely for immigration benefits. Some sample questions are:
- where do you shop for groceries?
- what is trash day in your neighborhood?
- who sleeps on which side of the bed?
- who got up first this morning?
- what did you do last weekend?
- how did you celebrate your husband’s birthday?
The questioning can last a significant time. So long as the Immigration Service Officer (“ISO”) is reassured that the marriage is real, the interview will continue. In some cases, the ISO is not reassured, and the case and the people are turned over to the fraud specialists at USCIS.
That is where an interview can get uncomfortable. It would not be unusual for fraud detection officers to use police-like techniques on applicants and their spouse to determine if the marriage is real or not. Tampa USCIS is very good at finding fraud, and if you commit fraud and are caught you will never get a green card here in the US.
Without a finding of fraud, the applicant and spouse will then provide documentary evidence that their marriage is real. This evidence may consist of:
- Photos from vacations, holiday gatherings, and from visits with friends and family;
- Envelopes showing that both receive mail at the marital address;
- Driver’s license showing the same address;
- Statements from joint credit accounts;
- Statement from joint bank accounts, with canceled checks signed by the both spouses, evidencing an active account;
- Joint tenancy in the marital home, shown by lease or mortgage documents (i.e, deed, mortgage, note, title policy, homeowner’s insurance)
- Cable, phone, water and electricity bills mailed to the home address which show “Mr. & Mrs.”
- Joint tax returns (if applicable);
- Joint health insurance;
- Joint car insurance (copy of most recent policy showing both drivers)
- Evidence showing that spouses have named each other as beneficiaries of life insurance policies;
- Evidence showing that spouses have named each other as the person to contact in case of emergency at your place of business;
- Affidavits from friends, neighbors, and relatives showing that they know of the good marriage and how they know about it (i.e. “We play bridge every Thursday night at their home”). The writers should also state how long they have known about the relationship. The affiants will have to include their signature, address, printed name, and phone number. If possible, the affidavits should be notarized.
- Copy(s) of birth certificate(s) for all children born to this marriage
If you are prepared for your interview with ample evidence, and your marriage is real, you should not have too much difficulty. If you want to be sure that you will be treated fairly and that you will have your best chance of success you will hire a competent immigration lawyer to represent you at the interview.