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What do Immigration Officers look for at I-130 Interviews?

This week I had the opportunity to attend several I-130 marriage based interviews with my South Florida clients. After having attended several hundred I-130 interviews over the past 20 plus years of being an Immigration Lawyer, I know that my clients will always benefit from being prepared. In addition to increasing the chances that the petition will be approved, I find that this also makes my job easier in the long run. Thus, prior to each I-130 interview, I always schedule time with my clients to go over what happens at the interviews, explain what the officers are looking for, go over my list of sample questions that I have collected over the last 20 years which officers tend to ask, and answer any questions that my clients have. And in response to one client's email request, I typed out a general, big-picture explanation of what happens. The main points of my email are reproduced below.

At I-130 interviews based upon marriage, the officers need to confirm several things:

  • The identity of the parties. Proof of identity must be shown. The officer needs to be convinced that both of you are who you say you are. This is obviously done through the production of birth certificates and Passports. From there, they will do a background investigation and make sure that they can ascertain your identity.
  • Standing of the Petitioner. Proof that you are legally eligible to sponsor Natalia. In your case, this will mean showing proof that you are a U.S. Citizen which will be through the production of your Naturalization Certificate.
  • Freedom to Marry. Both of you must show that you are legally free and able to be married, which requires that you show that any and all previous marriages have been legally terminated (ie. divorce decrees).
  • The Validity of the Marriage. This is probably the biggest and most important part of the I-130 interview. This is done first through showing the marriage certificate. The officer must be convinced that the marriage was valid under the laws of the jurisdiction in which it was entered. Then evidence of the "bona fides" of the marriage must be shown. This means proof that you are living together and holding yourselves out as a married couple, which includes your daughter (birth certificate), property you may own together, accounts, pictures, letters from others confirming the marriage, etc., and anything else that tends to prove that you are really married and living together, for love, and not just to get a green card.
  • No Bars to Eligibility or Grounds of Inadmissibility. When an I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status is filed concurrently with the I-130, the officer will also review and investigate whether there are any bars to the applicant's eligibility and whether he/she has any grounds of inadmissibility that might prevent him or her from adjusting status and getting a green card. This includes but is not limited to: criminal convictions, previous immigration violations, 3/10 year unlawful presence bar, inadmissibility based upon health grounds, financial sponsorship requirements being met, etc.

To schedule a consultation with South Florida Immigration Lawyer Sean D. Hummel, call (954) 385-3111 or e-mail:sean@hummelaw.com.

Categories: Immigration