If you are an immigrant married to a U.S. citizen and the U.S. government calls the validity of your marriage into question, you may have your work cut out to convince immigration officials otherwise. Emigrating may not have been your plan originally, but love has no borders, so here you are. You went through your first green card interview, but now have received a summons for a second interview, called a Stokes interview.
Government officials will request a Stokes interview if they suspect you and your spouse are faking your marriage to secure a green card or permanent resident visa. This formal immigration proceeding will determine whether you will be allowed to stay in the United States or face removal. Here are several key factors that may help you convince your interviewers that your marriage is legitimate.
How well do you know your spouse?
Many people say they still discover new things about their spouses even decades into their marriages. While no one expects you to know everything about the person you married, immigration officials will ask you personal questions to confirm that you are as familiar with your spouse as they expect the average spouse to be.
For example, they might ask you what your spouse's favorite color is or what time he or she usually goes to bed at night. If you don't know the names of your spouse's parents or whether he or she has food allergies, your interviewer may doubt the legitimacy of your marriage.
Do you and your spouse remember the same important events?
While you and your spouse may be in the same room for a portion of your Stokes interview, immigration officials may separate you at some point. They will then ask you and your spouse the same questions to check how well your answers correspond. If they ask where you went on your first date or how you met, and you do not say the same thing or something very similar, you may be at risk for deportation.
Discuss things ahead of time
Even if you've been married several months or even years, you may not know the name of the elementary school your spouse attended. To avoid problems, it's helpful if you and spouse learn as much about each other as possible before heading to your Stokes interview. You should also take care to avoid bringing up marital disputes during your interview, because this may cause further complications.
A Stokes interview isn't the end of your bid to emigrate to the U.S. but it is an important milestone. If you have questions or need help, there are support networks in place to assist you in overcoming any obstacles that arise.