Renee J. Tello Legal Blog

Friday, May 25, 2012

Three ways to avoid being scheduled for the dreaded Stokes interview

In part II of my Stokes interview blog series we are exploring three ways to avoid the Stokes interview. Now I must note at the outset that the Stokes interview is given at the discretion of the individual officer and you never know why an officer may suspect fraud and schedule the Stokes interview.  However, these are three general ways to avoid the most obvious traps that may cause a Stokes interview.

1. Submit evidence of the bona-fides of the marriage

In my last blog entry I mentioned joint documents necessary to show that the marriage was not entered into for the purpose of obtaining an immigration benefit.  The idea behind the joint documents requirement is that when a couple starts a life together they share assets, bills, health care etc.   Therefore, the immigration service requires joint documents to show that the relationship is real this is the concept of establishing the bona-fides of the marriage.  In addition to joint documents, the couple can also provide statements from friends and family, pictures of the couple together and with family and friends etc. to further establish that the marriage is legitimate.  Applicants should submit as many forms of evidence available to demonstrate to the officer and the immigration service that their marriage is real.  A lack of evidence of the bona-fides of the marriage will not be viewed favorably and can result in a Stokes interview.

2. Be familiar with the documents filed in support of your application

This is especially true when an attorney prepares your application.  Be sure that you and your spouse review every document filed with the immigration service on your behalf.  For instance, if an affidavit was provided by a friend or family member, review it to ensure it is accurate and make sure that both you and your spouse are familiar with its contents.  Another example would be if a joint sponsor is used for the affidavit of support, ensure that both of you are familiar with the person giving the affidavit even if the joint-sponsor is only a friend of the applicant.  This may seem obvious and insignificant, but should the officer ask a question regarding these documents, and either the sponsor or the applicant is unfamiliar with the contents of the affidavit or the name of the joint sponsor, it can result in a Stokes interview.

3Prepare for the interview

In my experience with clients, I find that nervousness is a big reason why some applicants end up in a Stokes interview.  Obviously being interviewed by an immigration officer for something as important as a green card can cause nervousness; but one way to combat that is to be prepared. Prior to the interview, first you will ensure that you follow the advice in items one and two.  However, to prepare for the verbal interview, be sure to be familiar with the basic story of how you met your spouse and the evolution of your relationship.  In addition, applicants must be familiar with the basic biographic information about each other and their immediate family.  Think of this as an opportunity to reinforce information you already know about each other and to learn more about your partner.  By arming yourself with knowledge about each other you will feel more comfortable at the interview knowing that you are prepared to answer any question asked. This further helps to avoid getting a scheduled for a Stokes interview by avoiding making mistakes because you are nervous and unprepared.

Our next blog in this three-part series will address how to prepare for a Stokes interview if you are scheduled for one despite your best efforts.

For more information on the green card application process or Stokes interview, contact our firm.

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