The process of applying for lawful permanent U.S. resident status, aka applying for a green card, is called adjustment of status. There are certain eligibility categories under which you may apply, including “family” if you’re the spouse, underage child, or parent of an underage child who’s a U.S. citizen. There are certain steps you must go through for an adjustment of status under a family petition, including going for an interview. Here are five tips to help you navigate the interview process.
1. The Burden of Proof Is 100% On You
The immigration officer isn’t tasked with proving a relationship exists one way or the other. No, you must convincingly prove the validity of your ‘family’ relationship to that officer.
If it’s a green card parent application, then you’ll need to prove the paternal relationship by such means as a birth certificate. If it’s a spousal application, then you’ll need to prove it’s a legit relationship. The latter can be quite difficult if you’re not prepared.
In cases of spousal application, it can be much harder to demonstrate the legitimacy of a relationship. There’s no one piece of paper from a DNA test or birth certificate to validate your status in someone’s life. Instead, it mustbe proved by a collection of events showing choice to be with each other.
How often do married couples not share money accounts, insurances, and other such proofs of ‘coupledom’ immediately? Instead, they may take years, if ever, to merge their separate, independent lives, with spousal green cards and fiancée visas, you don’t have this luxury of time.
One of the most convincing proofs of a legit relationship you can demonstrate to the immigration officer is financial co-dependence. Mingle as many financial checkmarks as possible – joint credit cards, banking accounts, loans, and insurance policies.
2. Ensure You and Family Have the Same Relationship Timeline
How often does someone mistake a birthday, anniversary, or other important relationship landmark’s date? How many people can remember the exact date, location, and details of their first date with their significant other? While the answers are quite often and not many in the real world, that’s not going to cut it for green card applicants.
The immigration officer is going to ask you timeline questions like when, how and where introductions happened; landmark dates; if the relationship was arranged or not and by whom and when; and when, where, and how the relationship led to an engagement/marriage.
You and your significant other need to have a timeline drawn out of such landmark events and be on the same page when providing answers. If possible, collect pictures, videos, receipts, or other time-stamped proofs of the events of your relationship.
3. Collect Supporting Documentation
In line with the above, one of the best sources of proof of a real relationship is documentation of things that have transpired within that relationship. It won’t be enough to sit beside each other with clasped hands and profess love. The proof is in documentation supporting those relationship professions such as the following.
• Real estate or joint leaseownership to show you’ve lived together and shared joint financial responsibility for a home.
• Actively used joint financial accounts or authorized user accounts to show there’s trust within each other; fraudulent marriages typically don’t have such trusts for each other.
• Mutual assets, such as a jointly owned vehicle, stock account, or named a beneficiary on life insurance or retirement accounts, to further solidly there’s trust and codependency.
• Joint financial obligation accounts, such as utility, cable, phone services, and tax forms, to further prove financial codependency and responsibility.
• Record of shared activities, such as vacations and trips. If it’s been a long-distance or separate living relationship, then document trips to visit one another and phone records and correspondence proofs.
• Testimonials from family, friends, and coworkers concerning how they know you as a couple. Past correspondence, such as mutually addressed holiday cards, can also serve as testimonial evidence.
4. Submit Evidence in An Organized and Easy to Follow Manner
As you’re preparing the documentation and proofs for your immigration officer, you’ll want it to be as easy to follow as possible. Keep it categorized and tabbed. Keep each category in chronological order and numbered for easy reference. Create a cover letter outlining your filing system.
5. If All Else Is Absent, Prove Consistent Communication
Maybe, you haven’t created this long paper trail of finances, activities, and future planning within your relationship? Perhaps, it’s been a long-distance relationship? It could be an arranged relationship applying for a fiancé visa. You could be going through spousal consular processing.
In most such cases, you’re not going to have an index of documentation or financial codependency to rely upon. Your case will likely hinge on exhibiting proof of communication.
Save all sources of communication, whether its personal contact on Facebook, written letters, Skype calls or arrangement communications and acts between the heads of the families. Gather witness affidavits from friends, family, religious leaders, and so forth to testify to the circumstances and proofs that the relationship is real.
In conclusion, while there’s no magic bullet to killing an adjustment of status interview, the process has a higher probability of hitting the desired target when you follow the above recommendations and tips. Keep timelines, documentation, and organization at the forefront of the process.