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Green Card interview tips

One of the most critical steps to living and working in the USA is the interview at the US embassy. But what happens at this appointment, and what do immigrants need to watch out for in the interview? We give five essential pieces of advice for a successful Green Card interview.

What is the Green Card interview?

The Green Card interview or visa interview is the last step before your immigrant visa for the USA is approved.

After the completed interview at the US embassy or consulate, your passport will be withheld and, shortly after that, returned to you with your US entry visa and a sealed envelope containing your immigration documents.

To finally receive your physical Permanent Resident Card (Green Card), you need to make your activation trip to the USA, which will kick off the process of printing and mailing your Green Card.

Tip

Your first entry into the USA to activate your Green Card is free of charge, including return travel, if you have entered the Green Card Lottery with The American Dream and booked the SMART or VIP rate.

When and where will my Green Card interview be?

When your "Case Number" becomes current according to the Visa Bulletin, you will need to log on to dvprogram.state.gov to check the exact interview appointment date.

How difficult is the Green Card interview?

Many potential US immigrants fear that they will inadvertently forfeit their right to a Green Card by giving a wrong answer in the Green Card interview. However, most reports of Green Card winners are in agreement on the point that the interview situation was less dire than feared.

Special training sessions prepare US immigrant visa applicants for the interview situation to ease petitioners' fears. Those who want to prepare for the Green Card interview together with experts can do so, for example, with the winner service of The American Dream.

Attention

The Green Card interview will be held in English. However, the officials will understand if you lack a perfect command of the language. Make this clear right at the beginning of the interview so that your deficits can be taken into account.

Would you like to learn some more English before your Green Card interview? Check out the best learning apps here.

What is the Green Card interview like?

Our Green Card winners often report longer waiting times at the embassies. The waiting time at the entrance can be between 30 minutes and an hour.

Before the interview, you will need to submit the visa fee, which you can pay in different ways and at different times, depending on the embassy or consulate. Be sure to follow the instructions of your assigned embassy or consulate at all times.

The procedure on interview day will be something like the following:

  • Once you reach the front of the queue, show your passport and invitation at the window. You will then be assigned a number and proceed to the security checkpoint.
  • After your number is called, you first show the documents you brought. After that, you will wait for the actual interview.
  • Your fingerprints will be taken either while handing in your documents or with the interview in the next step.
  • You will be called for the interview, which usually lasts between five and ten minutes and is done while standing in front of a security window.
  • At the end of the interview, you will be told immediately whether your application will be approved. In rare cases, a more detailed review may be necessary, resulting in further waiting time.
  • Suppose you mastered your Green Card interview. In that case, you will leave your passport at the embassy. It will be mailed back to you a few days later, along with your entry visa and immigration documents. 

Before starting your activation trip to the USA, you must pay the immigration fee. After that, you will receive a "receipt number," which you can use to track the shipping status of your Green Card.

Take your chance for a Green Card now! Apply now

What questions will be asked during the Green Card interview?

In the GreenCard interview, your personal data will be asked again, and you will have to provide information about your profession and your plans within the USA, for example.

Which and how many questions you will be asked depends, among other things, on the Green Card category for which you have applied. For example, if you are applying for a Green Card through marriage, the interview will be particularly rigorous to rule out marriage fraud.

Typical Green Card interview questions are:

  • May I see your ID?
  • Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
  • What is your full name?
  • Have you ever committed any crimes?
  • Have you ever been arrested?
  • Has anything in your life changed since you submitted this application?
  • Have you brought any documents to show me?

Before you swear to tell the truth, you will be asked to raise your right hand. Usually, the official interview questions are rounded off with a bit of small talk, and the officials quickly come to a decision.

Five important tips for the Green Card interview

With a little preparation and our Green Card interview tips, your appointment at the US embassy or consulate is sure to be a success:

#1. Be at the embassy early

Although you will be asked to arrive at the embassy or consulate just before your actual appointment, allow enough time to make up for any wait time at the entrance.

You should arrive at least half an hour before your appointment to join the queue. Security checks after the first queue also take additional time.

#2. Leave prohibited items at home

Security checks at the US embassy are strict and roughly comparable to airport security screenings. Not every embassy implements all rules in the same way. Nevertheless, prepare for the highest level of security and leave all prohibited items at home.

Generally, the following items are not permitted to be brought into US embassies and consulates:

  • electronic devices such as smartphones and cameras
  • sharp-edged objects
  • chemical substances
  • liquids and gases
  • backpacks and larger bags or suitcases

If you have baby food or necessary medications with you, make sure to bring it to the attention of security personnel.

#3. Prepare your documents well

Your assigned US embassy has published or sent you specific instructions on assembling your documents for the Green Card interview.

Make copies of all documents whose originals you wish to keep. Remove all papers from any sleeves or envelopes and have them ready as a loose stack (no stapling).

You should bring the following documents to the interview:

  • your passport (which must be valid for at least 1.5 years)
  • the interview invitation
  • address registration confirmation page
  • any certificates, diplomas, or other proof of your educational status
  • proof of your professional activities within the last five years
  • the confirmation page of your immigrant application (e.g., DS-260)
  • two color photographs that meet the format requirements for visa passport photographs
  • proof of financial means (e.g., bank statement)
  • proof of medical examinations
  • birth certificate (certificates of descent are not accepted)
  • proof of family status, e.g., marriage certificate, divorce certificate, or birth/adoption certificates of children (if applicable)
  • any custody orders (if applicable)
  • police clearance certificate from all countries in which you have lived for at least one year

It is no longer necessary to bring a stamped envelope to return your passport. Instead, you provide your return address during your online registration and bring the confirmation to the consulate.

The evidence must be submitted as original documents or certified copies in English or the consulate's language. Follow the instructions carefully.

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Because of the large number of documents, the two-folder principle has proven itself over the years with our Green Card winners:

Documents for the Green Card interview
Folder 1: All documents that are mandatory to present
(e.g., passport, passport photos, proof of payment, the confirmation page of your electronic immigration application)
Folder 2: All documents that might be asked for spontaneously
(e.g., school reports, education certificates, bank statements, divorce certificates)

The top three documents in Folder 1 should be your passport, your interview invitation, and proof of your visa fee payment.

#4. Rehearse the interview

Practice makes perfect! In conversation with a friend, family member, or Green Card counselor, you should practice the interview situation. If your English is less advanced, learn any immigration-related special terms that may come up beforehand.

In your test interviews, be prepared to answer questions about your life story, career, and plans in the United States.

#5. Be brief

Try to answer in short and precise sentences. Usually, you will have limited time at your Green Card interview, so you should use every minute to convince the consular officer of the legitimacy of your Green Card application.

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