Are you and your spouse facing a Stokes interview?

On behalf of Harrington Law Offices, Immigration Lawyers posted in Injuries on Friday, December 9, 2016.

One way to obtain a green card is to marry someone who is already a United States citizen. The vast majority of these unions are legitimate, legal marriages based on mutual love, respect and shared values. However, because some immigrants have entered into sham marriages simply to get the coveted status of legal permanent resident, immigration officials have devised ways to ferret out these fraudulent marriages.

One of these processes is known as a Stokes interview. If you and your spouse are suspected of being in a sham marriage, you will receive notice to appear – together, and with certain documents – for an interview with immigration officials.

Below are some of the important documents to bring with you:

  • Photo ID belonging to the spouse who is the United States citizen
  • Passport of the immigrant spouse
  • Proof of citizenship for the petitioner
  • Marriage certificate
  • Photo albums
  • Copies of bank accounts
  • Insurance policies on both spouses
  • Copies of utility bills
  • Mortgage or rent receipts
  • Letters from employers and pay stubs from last two pay periods
  • Income tax returns

The interview is grueling – be prepared

Your immigration attorney can help prepare you both for the interview questions you will face, together and separate, as they are incredibly intimate and invasive. You will likely feel as if the immigration officer has climbed right through your bedroom window and is rooting through your underwear drawer.

After he or she explains why this interview became necessary (usually while the spouses are together), the two will be separated and asked specific personal questions to check for discrepancies in their answers. While not every discrepancy will result in a denial or a revocation of a green card, the more there are, the more red flags are raised.

Questions typically asked in a Stokes interview

Keeping in mind that there is no universal template of questions for INS officers to ask, below are typical questions that routinely get asked of couples during Stokes interviews:

  • How did the two of you meet?
  • Describe your first date.
  • When you pay bills, is it online or with checks?
  • Do you have pets?
  • How many bedrooms are in your house?
  • In your living room, do you have curtains or window shades?
  • What side of your bed do you sleep on?
  • Which one of you gets up first in the morning?
  • Who sets the alarm?
  • Which day of the week does the trash pick-up run?
  • Where did you buy the furniture in your house?
  • How many TVs do you own?
  • What company provides your cable/internet/cellphone service?
  • Where are your toothbrushes kept?
  • What brand of shampoo, toothpaste, and bath soap do you use?
  • What type of birth control are you using?
  • Who fell asleep first last night?

Immigration may face new challenges in 2017

With the inauguration of President-elect Trump in January of 2017, there could be changes on many levels of the immigration process. Whether it is preparing for a Stokes interview or applying for permanent residency, it’s always wise to seek the counsel of a seasoned immigration attorney.