After properly filling out all the forms and gathering the supporting documents, the foreign national and her spouse can submit the package to USCIS with the appropriate filing fees. Once USCIS receives the package, USCIS will issue a receipt with a specific case number. The couple can check their case status online through the USCIS website with the receipt number.
A few weeks after the issuance of the receipt, the foreign national will receive a notice to have her biometrics taken, also known as, fingerprints. The biometrics are taken to verify whether the foreign spouse has any criminal convictions in her record. Not all crimes affect the adjustment process. How might criminal convictions affect the adjustment status is beyond the scope of this article. For such analysis, we highly recommend you to seek the advice of an experienced immigration attorney.
The biometrics are usually taken at a USCIS Support Center. The date, address, and time will be indicated on the notice. For any USCIS matters, it is very important to keep all appointments and precisely follow the instructions on the notices.
Interview at USCIS
The next event is the interview at USCIS. Generally, the interview notices will be sent about three to four weeks prior to the interview date. The interview notice will indicate who needs to appear at the interview, date, time, and what documents are required. Most of the documents indicated on the interview notice should have already been submitted. If some documents are missing or if there are updated documents, the couple must bring the additional documents to the interview. Also, the originals of the marriage certificate, birth certificates, and certain supporting documents must be brought to the interview.
On the day of the interview, the couple must appear at the interview together along with all the requisite documents. Joint sponsor is not required to appear at the interview. The purpose of the interview is to verify that the information and the documents submitted are true; and that the couple’s marriage is a legitimate, bona-fide marriage. The most important point is to verify that the foreign national spouse did not enter into the marriage solely for immigration benefits. It is highly recommended for the couple to bring a qualified immigration attorney to the interview along with an interpreter for the foreign national spouse, if necessary. Having a competent immigration attorney present at the interview will make a world of difference in getting the case approved in a timely manner.
The interviewing officer will generally start by asking the questions on Forms I-130 and I-485. After the basic information has been verified, the interviewing officer will probe into the relationship of the couple from the time they first met to, as recent as, the breakfast they had on the day of the interview. In some cases, the couple might get separated at the interview. The officer may ask one spouse to wait in the waiting area while the officer interviews the other spouse and vice versa. For this reason, it is imperative that the couple prepare for the interview by going over significant dates and events in their relationship prior to the interview.
At the conclusion of the interview, the officer will inform the couple whether (1) their case is approved, (2) the couple needs to bring additional documents, or (3) to wait for USCIS to conduct further review of their case. If the case is not approved on the day of the interview, the couple will receive specific instructions and usually a letter from the officer informing how the case is going to be processed. If the case is approved on the day of the interview, they will receive an approval letter at the interview and the actual green card in the mail within about 30 days of the interview. Upon approval of at the interview, the foreign national spouse is deemed to be a legal permanent resident.
Even if the couple did not retain an attorney at the time they prepared the documents, they can retain an attorney for the interview preparation and appearance. In fact, it is highly recommended to retain an experienced immigration attorney to prepare the couple and to appear for the interview. If the couple failed to submit certain documents or made mistakes in the documents, it is essential to correct the mishaps now before, or at the time of the interview. An experienced immigration attorney can review the case for completeness, prepare, and appear at the interview to facilitate the approval of the case. We, at Root Law Group, have combined experience of more than 60 years practicing exclusively immigration law. Call today for a free in-office legal consultation! (323) 456-7600.