An applicant for an immigrant visa must be interviewed at a U.S. consulate abroad prior to permanent residency (immigrant visa) being issued. Typically these applications are based on a previously approved family or employment-based petition.
For many people, the prospect of being interviewed by a consular officer can be stressful. However, for those who are prepared, an immigration interview should be straightforward and much like a job interview. You should try to remain calm- there is no reason to be nervous. Although you may be at the consulate for up to three hours, most interviews last no longer than 30 minutes.
Included in this article is information on:
- The General Process
- Tips for the Interview
- Information for Marriage-Based Applicants
- Information for Employment-Based Applicants
The General Process
The Department of State will provide a comprehensive list of required documentation with your interview appointment letter.
In most cases, your name will be called and you will either be brought into a separate office or to a kiosk. The officer will place you under oath and ask to see valid, government-issued identification. The interview will consist of the officer going over the forms previously submitted to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date. The officer will also want to verify your photocopies against the originals contained in your file of all of the supporting documentation previously submitted with the application to ensure their authenticity (examples would include original birth and marriage certificates).
Tips for the Interview
Carefully read the entire appointment notice from the Department of State so that you know what to bring and what not to bring.
Inform a friend or relative of your interview date, time and location and ask them to remind you a day or two prior to the interview to ensure you do not inadvertently miss the appointment.
DO NOT attempt to reschedule your appointment except in the most urgent of cases.
Wear business attire in order to promote a professional image to the interviewing officer.
Arrive 15 to 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment.
The officer will also want to see photocopies of all of the original supporting documentation previously submitted with the application to ensure their authenticity so make sure to bring them with you. The officer will then “trade” your original documents back to you for the photocopies you bring.
Be yourself but maintain a professional demeanor.
Do not be afraid to ask the officer to repeat themselves if you do not understand a question being asked.
Information for Marriage-Based Applicants
In cases where marriage is involved, the following will apply:
Your spouse may be required to accompany you to the interview. If so, your spouse will be required to present valid, government-issued identification.
Be prepared to provide the interviewing officer with evidence that you are living together as husband and wife (and/or involved in a legitimate relationship together) and are not trying to evade immigration laws. In these instances, we recommend you bring as much documentation as possible. Examples would include joint health, life, and car insurance; joint savings, checking, and credit card statements; lease or mortgage agreements; birth certificates of children born of the marriage; and photographs of the couple.
Information for Employment-Base Applicants
For employment-based cases, the officer will also want evidence that you are still working in the same position for the same employer. This can be accomplished by a recent letter confirming employment and paystubs.
Most importantly, if you have concerns before the interview, we urge you to contact us.
Page Summary: Applicants for immigrant visas, whether family-based or employment-based, must be interviewed at a U.S. consulate abroad prior to their immigrant visa (green card) being issued.