HORITSU.COM :: The US Immigration Laws


The Green Card Interview

Q. I hope to have a green card interview very soon in Los Angeles based upon my marriage to a green card holder. What is it like? How does it differ from having an interview in Japan?

A. The INS is currently scheduling green card interviews for people who filed for "adjustment of status" in October 1997. Unfortunately, once people go to the INS interview most cases are "continued" rather than "approved" because of a nationwide hold on cases filed prior to June 1998.

The hold is due to CIA background checks not being completed. The INS does not know how long the hold will be in place, and the only exceptions to the "hold" will be for lottery cases and if an applicant is about to turn 21 years old.


If you have a morning appointment you should be done by noon. If you have an afternoon appointment you should be done by 4 p.m. The actual interview usually takes about 20 minutes. The first thing you do will be to take an oath to tell the truth. Then the INS officer will ask you for your passport, photo identification, and INS employment cards. After that the officer will ask you to sign a piece of paper and take your fingerprint. This paper you sign is used to make your green card.

The appointment notice will list a number of documents that you must bring to the interview. You should bring the original and one copy. The main documents are passports, marriage certificates, divorce certificates from prior marriages, the alien's birth certificate, and your spouse's green card. If your spouse is a US citizen you need to bring a US passport, US birth certificate or naturalization certificate.

Items used to prove that you are really married include the following:

  1. joint US tax returns,
  2. joint bank statements,
  3. birth certificates of children,
  4. apartment lease,
  5. proof of auto insurance and health insurance,
  6. telephone and utility bills, and
  7. wedding photos.

The INS will also want you to get "employment verification" letters from your employers if either of you work. If you are currently unemployed, obtaining a letter from your prior employer is a good idea.

Finally, the INS will ask you for your medical exam. Make sure you go to an INS approved physician. Also, do not open the envelope the doctor gives you. The INS must open it. If you are sick, the doctor will tell you, so don't worry about the results.


The main advantage of having an interview in Tokyo is that usually takes less than 6 months to complete the process once you are ready to apply for the green card interview (ie, your "priority date" is current). Most people who are currently in the US in a valid nonimmigrant status can remain in the US until a few days prior to the interview. Most important, cases are rarely "continued;" the Embassy will issue you a "green card" visa the same day as the interview. You should discuss this option with your attorney if you are interested.