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Will I have to attend an Interview on my I-751 Petition?

Many I-751 petitioners want to know if they will have to attend an interview with USCIS after they file their I-751 petition. The short answer is ... maybe.

In Part III of my Separated by Not Divorced; Navigating the Jointly filed I-751 blog post, I covered in detail the November 30, 2018 USCIS Policy Memorandum regarding I-751 Waiver Guidance which set forth the circumstances under which a USCIS officer could waive the interview requirement. In short, the interview can be waived if the officer is satisfied that:

  1. The parties have presented sufficient evidence of the good faith nature of the marriage;
  2. There is no indication of fraud or misrepresentation, or that the marriage was a "sham" marriage that was entered into for the purpose of evading the U.S. immigration laws;
  3. There are no complex facts or issues present that require an interview in order to resolve concerns; AND
  4. USCIS has previously interviewed the petitioner.

Let me try to unpack these conditions so that you can better understand how and under what circumstances USCIS may apply them in deciding on whether to schedule an Interview on your I-751 petition.

Condition 1 is probably the most straightforward and easiest to understand (and satisfy). Simply put, you need to provide USCIS with as much documentary evidence regarding your marriage as you can. This includes, but is not limited to evidence that you both: are living together, own property together, share joint liabilities and responsibilities, co-mingle your finances, socialize together, worship together (if applicable), recreate together, and, if applicable have children together. It is important to remember that the supporting documentation you provide should cover as much of the marriage as possible. The possibilities are virtually endless in this category and you can be creative. You should know whether or not you have turned over and produced all of the relevant evidence that you have. If you have not, you may get a second chance to produce the documentation if you receive a Request for Additional Evidence from USCIS. This is always a good opportunity to update the record and provide whatever documentation you may have left out.

Condition 2 is another one that you should know whether you have satisfied. Every so often I have clients that are concerned about the way things may appear (even though they know that their marriage is legitimate in every respect) and they worry that the Immigration Services Officer will wrongfully conclude that their marriage is a sham. Perhaps it is due to the age difference between the parties, cultural differences, or racial differences. The first thing I say to this is that U.S. immigration law is full of such examples. By nature of the process, it often involves intermingling of cultures, languages, and customs that may appear very different on the outside. Secondly, and most importantly, these are facts beyond change. If the relationship is legitimate and is grounded in good faith intentions, then the truth will prevail, and it is our job to bring out all of the facts that support this truth.

Condition 3 give the Immigration Services Officer a wide range of latitude to schedule interviews on I-751 petitions. An example would be where the parties are still married but are not living together, either because they have separated, are living apart due to work related reasons, or are very young or economically unable to afford housing together and are living with other family members. There may also be situations where an Interview is requested in order to clear up a discrepancy in the record. For example, you may have unintentionally (or intentionally) provided evidence of different addresses that are overlapping in time, perhaps because you were using one as a residence and one as a mailing address; or due to a third party error in your address. Here is another reason why you have to be very careful and pay attention to details when you are organizing and submitting your supporting evidence. In all of these situations, an interview may help the officer to gain insight into the underlying reasons and to assess the credibility of the parties in an in-person setting.

Condition 4 refers to situations where USCIS would NOT have previously interviewed the Petitioner. This is clarified in Footnote 6 of the 2018 memo, where it notes that "[g]enerally, USCIS will not have interviewed I-751 petitioners with the following codes of admission: CR1, CR2, C21, C22, C23, CX1, CX2, and CX3." Generally, these permanent residents will have received an immigrant visa outside the U.S. after approval by a U.S. Consulate abroad. Thus, any such petition will require an interview, even if they are able to establish, through initial evidence, that the marriage is bona fide. This applies both to joint petitions and "waiver" petitions.

If you have questions regarding your I-751 petition and whether you will have to attend an Interview on your Petition, call or email South Florida Immigration Lawyer Sean D. Hummel at (954) 385-3111 or to schedule a consultation.