A Stokes Interview in a marriage based green card application process is referring to an interview when the husband and wife are questioned separately, and their answers are compared by an immigration officer to determine whether the marriage was entered into in good faith. A stokes interview (also known as "marriage fraud interview") is usually a second interview, after the first one when the husband and wife were interviewed together raised some questions about the bona fide of their marriage.
What is a stokes interview?
When an individual sponsors his or her spouse for U.S. permanent residence, they must collectively demonstrate to an USCIS official that their marriage was entered in good faith, and not for the purpose of evading immigration law. They must provide sufficient documents, and go through an interview at a USCIS office where they will answer questions in front of an immigration officer (IO) about their marriage and life together. This first interview usually lasts about 1 -2 hours, and the questions are generally not intrusive.
However, if the IO conducting the first interview is not entirely satisfied and still has questions about the marriage, he/she will schedule a secondary interview known as the "Stokes Interview." During a stokes interview the husband and wife are separated from each other and must answer a series of questions that are rather personal and invasive. The interview will be taped and their statements will be compared against each other. If their answers match very well it is a good indication that the marital relationship is genuine. If not, the couple will be given a chance to explain the discrepancies.
At the conclusion of the stokes interview if the IO is still not convinced, and still has reasons to believe the marriage was created for the purpose of obtaining immigration benefit, he or she will deny the adjustment of status (AOS) petition.
How long does a stokes interview last?
A stokes interview can easily last several hours, depending on the IO, the complexity of the situation and the schedule. Because a stokes interview happens only after the IO already has some doubt about the bona fide of the marriage, expect a long, exhausting and definitely unpleasant experience.
However, don't be scared. Answer the questions truthfully and to your best knowledge. You simply can not guess every question that will be asked, so the best approach is to stay calm and answer the questions honestly.
What types of questions are asked during a stokes interview?
Put yourself in the shoes of an immigration officer, and imagine how you can figure out whether the couple is really married or just pretends to be married for the purpose of getting a greed card. Those are the questions you should expect during a stokes interview.
Although interview questions vary from case to case, they are generally in the following categories:
- About your relationship:
where you met, how you met, who pays utility bills, by check or online banking, which bank, what TV shows do you watch together, name a few restaurants you both like, do you have or plan to have kids, what is your first kid's birthday, where was she/he born, when was the last time you had a vacation.
- About your spouse:
what job does your spouse have, what was the last job, name the kids from a previous relationship, what time does your spouse usually go to sleep, what side of bed does your spouse sleep on, have you met his/her family, who did you last meet and when, what is the color of your spouse's pajama.
- Around your home:
how many bedrooms, showers, toilets are in the house, what is the garbage pickup day, what colors are the window/shower curtains, how many drawers does the nightstand have, where did you get the couch, how was it transported here, how many TVs do you have, what is the brand of your DVD player, where are the telephones located, how much do you pay for internet, what is the mortgage or rent, how do you pay it.
- Just before the interview:
who woke up first this morning, what breakfast did each of you have, how you got to the office, what car did you drive or from what station did you get on the subway, how long did it take you to get here.
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