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Marriage with a US citizen: how to remove the convention from the green card and avoid an interview at the Immigration Service

No couple wants to visit the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to answer personal questions about their marriage. Moreover, the stakes are high. If USCIS is not convinced that you are in a bona fide marriage, conditional resident status may be at risk. Edition Citizen path told how to avoid a scary interview if you submit Form I-751 (petition to remove conditions from the green card).

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By law, the couple must attend a personal interview for USCIS to revoke the conditional status. But if the agency is completely satisfied that you did not marry for the purpose of evading immigration law, they can cancel the interview and approve the I-751 petition.

USCIS determines the need for an interview

In a recently released policy memo, USCIS officers can understand when to refuse an interview. This program memorandum applies to all I-751 petitions received on or after December 10, 2018. USCIS officers may consider canceling the interview if they are confident that:

  • They can make a decision based on the record as it contains sufficient evidence that the marriage was in good faith and that the marriage was not contracted to circumvent US immigration laws.
  • USCIS has previously interviewed the main petitioner.
  • There is no allegation of fraud or misrepresentation on the I-751 form or supporting documentation.
  • There are no difficult facts or questions that require an interview to be resolved.

Initial check

The USCIS Service Center will initially review your I-751 petition. If you are completely confident that the marriage was not contracted for the purpose of evading immigration law, the Service Center may refuse the interview and approve the petition. However, if they decide that an interview is necessary, the case is sent to the dispute resolution department of the Service Center and referred to a judge to determine the level of fraud. They then give your case a Fraud Level A, B, or C. The judge uses the documentation you filed with your I-751 petition to make this decision.

Fraud rate

If the judge is completely satisfied with the documents and thinks that the case can be approved, he is assigned a level of fraud C. However, if the judge is less than completely satisfied, but still believes that (based on the information available at that time) the case can be approved, then he is assigned a fraud level B. And if he has serious concerns about the admissibility of the case or wants the applicant and his spouse to be interviewed, then the case will be assigned a fraud level A.

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Reasons for assigning a cheat level C

If a case is assigned a Fraud Level C, it means there are no technical issues (signatures, missing information, lack of evidence, etc.) and the USCIS judge believes the case can be approved (no interview required). All required supporting documents are attached and there are no signs of fraud or misrepresentation that can be identified in the documents or through the biographical information of the parties involved.

Reasons for assigning a cheat level B

In Level B fraud cases, there are no technical issues to fix, there is a minimum amount of proper supporting documents, but there is something that raises suspicions about the good faith of the marriage, the veracity of the evidence, etc. The reasons for suspicion are so varied that a short list impossible. An example is I-751, supported by the minimum required number of documents, but all documents are of recent origin.

Reasons for assigning fraud level A

USCIS can assign a fraud level A if a judge seriously suspects fraud. The reasons why USCIS is entitled to assign a Fraud Level A include:

  • the applicant has not signed the form;
  • there is insufficient evidence;
  • there is a big age difference between spouses;
  • the married couple does not live together;
  • the previous request was rejected;
  • the application was submitted out of time without a valid reason for being late;
  • any other reasons the service director can determine.

Once USCIS determines the level of fraud, they will forward the case to the local office in your area. The field office assigns a percentage for each level of fraud. USCIS will interview all Level A cases. The office may choose to interview 30% to 100% of all Level B cases; and 10% to 50% of all cases of C.

In general, this means that a very well-prepared I-751 petition will most likely avoid an interview. However, the local office may randomly select a few cases for the interview that do not require verification.

How contingent residents can avoid an interview

USCIS determines the need for an I-751 interview, and USCIS has the right to refuse the interview. But there are details you can do to greatly improve your chances of avoiding it.

Submit a well-prepared petition

Remember that the purpose of conditional living is to prove that you were married with the sincere intention of staying married. If there is insufficient evidence of a bona fide marriage, or there are circumstances that raise questions about your marriage, USCIS is more likely to schedule an interview.

Provide compelling evidence that the marriage is bona fide

Collect evidence to show that the marriage that granted you conditional status was “in good faith” and not in order to circumvent immigration laws. Provide copies of as many documents as possible to establish this fact and demonstrate the circumstances of the relationship from the date of marriage to the present date, as well as demonstrate any circumstances surrounding the end of the relationship, if ended.

Supporting documents may include but are not limited to the following examples:

  • Birth certificates of a child (children) born in marriage.
  • Lease or mortgage agreements that show you are living together or owning a common home.
  • Financial statements showing joint ownership of assets and joint liability for liabilities, such as joint savings and checking accounts with a history of transactions, joint credit card statements, insurance policies in which the other spouse is the beneficiary, joint federal and local tax returns, joint accounts for utilities, joint ownership of the car, other joint loans.
  • Any other documents that you consider important to prove that your marriage was not contracted for the purpose of evading U.S. immigration laws.
  • Sworn affidavits or confirmed by at least two people who knew both of you from the time you were granted conditional status and knew personally about your marriage and relationship.
  • 10-20 photos of a married couple together. Examples might include wedding photos, travel, special events with family and friends, etc. (You must also manually write the location, names, and dates on the back of the photos).

First of all, financial and insurance records can be one of the most compelling evidence that you are in a bona fide marriage. Co-ownership of assets and responsibility for financial obligations is a good indicator that a couple plans to stay together and build their lives.

As you can see, your best strategy to avoid an I 751 interview is to prepare a compelling I-751 petition with irrefutable evidence to support the good faith of the marriage. You want the USCIS service center to quickly approve your petition instead of sending it to your local office.

How to prepare for an interview

This article assumes that you and your spouse have filed an I-751 petition and are still a married couple.

However, there are a few guidelines to consider when preparing for your I-751 interview.

Collect supporting evidence of your bona fide marriage

If you have prepared a compelling I-751 petition to prove the good faith of the marriage on your initial filing, you should keep a copy of these documents. Shared bank accounts, shared financial obligations, travel records, wedding records, and children born in wedlock help support your marriage. If you have new evidence, you can take it with you to your interview (if you need it).

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Dress formally

Formal dress indicates that you are serious about your interview. Dress as if you are going to church or for a job interview.

Come early for an interview

Get to the interview location half an hour earlier than the scheduled time. Do not reschedule an interview unless absolutely necessary.

Be honest and open

A USCIS officer is likely to ask questions about how you spend your life together. For example, an officer might ask you how you celebrated your spouse's birthday, what foods he likes, and what kind of friends your spouse has.

The interview may very well raise some very personal questions about your marriage. If you are an individual, or if you are from a cultural background where talking about relationship issues is somewhat taboo, you can prepare by talking to a friend or relative. Although this is not a complete list, some topics may not be covered at all. Here is a list of some of the topics you should be prepared to discuss:

  • How and where did you meet your spouse?
  • Your relationship with your spouse's family
  • Length of courtship before marriage
  • How do you spend time together?

If your I-751 petition package did not contain sufficient evidence of joint financial or insurance documents, then it is quite understandable that USCIS will ask why. If the couple does not live together, USCIS will want to know more. In many cases, couples have very reasonable explanations.

If you are honest throughout the entire process, you will have no problem answering the interviewer's questions.

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Six popular misconceptions about the green card lottery

Naturalization in 2021: How and What Documents You Need to Submit to Get US Citizenship

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