Are same-sex marriage based visa interviews different than not in same-sex interviews?
Are the interviews different in same-sex applications than they are in heterosexual applications?
Generally, no. In both situations the individuals are brought into the immigration office asked to raise the right hand put under oath and then the couple is interviewed for two reasons. Now remember the whole shooting match in this kind of a case is getting the non-citizen the green card so the two parts of the process are, one, is the marriage valid. And two, is the person of good moral character so that the United States should issue that person a green card. And so the interview in both same-sex and heterosexual cases are the same because the interviewing officer under the law is trying to find out the same thing.
So the first main topic of conversation is whether the couple’s marriage is legitimate and the officer will typically spend a lot of time going into how did the couple meet? What are the kinds of things that they do with each other? Like they go on trips, do they hang out at the movies? Do they go visit friends? The interviewer wants to make sure that the couple’s answering sort of together that he or she can get a sense that the couple is legitimate and the marriage is legitimate. And obviously one topic that is different in the same sex marriage is whether the marriage is valid under the law, where it was celebrated?
So for instance we live in Missouri and Missouri same-sex marriages are not recognized, so the same-sex couple would have to go to another state like Iowa or Minnesota to get that marriage license and the officer is going to want to look at the circumstances of the marriage itself but so far that hasn’t been a problem couples are going to the right places to get their marriage to get their licenses and the officers typically spend more time talking to a couple about how they are? Who they are? What they do for a living? How they met? Who do they like to hang out with?
They ask questions of each other’s family so they’ll ask the non-citizen to talk about the citizen’s family and vice versa. It’s actually pretty typical where the immigration officer just want to make sure that it’s not a sham marriage and I think that right now in this early part of the process where same-sex marriages are recognized in immigration, I think the officers if anything or tending to go a little bit easy on the same sex couples because they understand that these people on the forefront of these applications probably went through a whole lot to get their marriage licenses and don’t seem to be at this particular point in time too eager to turn these cases down. Now that pendulum might swung back in the other way later but as of right now I think they’re looking at them with at least the same level of scrutiny if not a little bit easier level of scrutiny. Then of course the second part of the interview’ going to be going over whether the immigrant spouse has what it takes to become a green card holder. Are they good person? Do they have any criminal convictions? Had they ever done anything that suggested that they were US citizens? Or had they received any government benefits that they weren’t supposed to get? The typical things that happen in any green card interview the immigration officer here is going to be looking at the non-citizen spouse to make sure that they warrant a green card and so they go over the application carefully. We spend a lot of time before the interview getting our clients ready for the interview itself we do role-playing where we make sure that our clients understand that we’re acting as if we are the immigration officer and we really encourage them to answer the questions on their own. And so that’s basically it.
The interviews usually take about a half hour, they’re pretty straightforward. We haven’t any problems related to same-sex marriage applications just yet. The interviews that we’ve been on have been pretty typical the officers spent a lot of time looking at wedding pictures, talking to the couple and we even had rather conservative examining officers approve these applications. So if you’re a same-sex couple and you’re wondering about whether this particular part of the process is going to be overly difficult, I wouldn’t worry about it with confidence immigration council working on your behalf and with a good application that you submit well-documented in establishing that the marriage is valid, we think that your case should get approved.