Renee J. Tello Legal Blog

Monday, May 28, 2012

So you’ve been scheduled for a Stokes interview- What now?

This blog addresses what to do if you are in the unfortunate circumstance of being scheduled for a Stokes interview. First DON’T PANIC!  Being scheduled for a Stokes interview does not mean that your green card application will definitely be denied. It simply means that you will be subject to a second more in-depth interview.  So let’s explore some ways to prepare.

First, to be prepared you need to know what to expect.  At a Stokes interview the officer will meet with the couple together to explain the process and swear them in.  Then the couple is separated and asked numerous questions while being taped.  The officer then compares the answers given by each spouse to check for consistency and accuracy.  The couple is then given an opportunity to explain discrepancies between their answers.

Second, practice asking each other sample stokes questions; make them up or check online for sample questions. You should be aware that the officer may ask as many as 100 questions and the interview can last anywhere from 10 minutes to two hours depending on the number of questions asked.  Officers ask questions under the general categories of your relationship, home, employment and family. Examples of questions asked are listed below:

1. What is your spouse’s date and place of birth?
2. Please spell your spouse’s full name?
3. Does your spouse have siblings? How Many? Have you met them?
4. What are your monthly expenses? And how do you pay them?
5. How many windows are in your bedroom?
6. What type of door does your bathroom have?
7. How many TVs do you have? Where are they located in the home?
8. Where you do you do your laundry? How often?
9. Who does the cooking?
10. Where does your spouse work? How long has he/she worked there?
11. What did your spouse wear to go to sleep last night? What color?
12. How did you get to the interview today?
13. What did you have for breakfast today?

The questions listed above are only a small sample of the questions that you may be asked in a Stokes interview. The best way to prepare is to become very familiar with every detail of your relationship, spouse’s family, employment history and home. The problem with the Stokes questions is not that they are difficult, but that they require us to remember details we may deem insignificant and easily forget.  For instance, why do I need to remember the color of the curtains or my spouse’s pajamas?  Well in the Stokes context these minute details make a difference.  Also, again when you’re nervous you tend to forget many things you may know perfectly well otherwise.

My third piece of advice is to answer the question asked and think before you speak.  Now that may sound simple or obvious.  However, many people race to answer a question quickly and then say the wrong thing, when had they paused and thought about the question, they would have answered correctly.  Also, be concise with your answers, the officer does not want to know extraneous details about your life in the answer.  It may only cause the officer to delve deeper and create unnecessary confusion.

Finally, it may be comforting to know that you do not need to get every single question correct in order to pass your Stokes interview.   As noted above, you will be given the opportunity to clarify discrepancies.  Moreover, the important inquiry will be what questions you got incorrect and how many.  If you forgot what your spouse cooked for dinner the night before, it may not be that significant.  If you cannot remember where you got married or your spouse’s middle/maiden name, you may have an issue.

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

The Law Office of Renee J. Tello, PLLC serves clients throughout the New York City metropolitan area including Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island and Westchester.

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