What will happen during an interview if I filed based on a request for a divorce waiver?
Make sure that you have carefully prepared your petition with as many supporting documents as possible that show your marriage was made in good faith. The following categories are examples of the types of evidence that USCIS is looking for to prove that the two of you have shared a life together, from the most to the least persuasive.
Proof That You Have Children Together: Copies of birth certificates of your children (with both your and your spouse’s name listed) or adoption records of jointly adopted children are the best evidence that you and your spouse have a genuine marriage. However, don’t worry if you don’t have children! USCIS doesn’t expect all couples to start a family, much less in the first two years of their marriage.
Evidence of Shared Resources and a Family Home: USCIS wants to see that the two of you share resources and are living as a family. This includes joint financial accounts as well as the maintenance of a shared home. The more documents you can provide with both your names, the better. To demonstrate that the two of you operate as a couple, you can provide copies of jointly filed tax returns for the past two years, as well as joint savings and checking account statements, investment account statements, credit card and loan statements, and bills of sale for an automobile or another large purchase. You should also submit a copy of your lease, mortgage or deed for your family home, and utility bills in both of your names.
While it is not ideal if you don’t live at the same address, it does not necessarily mean that your application is destined for denial. You should, however, provide a good explanation as to why you are living apart, as well as plenty of additional evidence regarding the validity of your marriage. Many conditional residents have successfully had their conditions removed while living apart. For example, perhaps one spouse needed to move to another location for work and you intend to follow shortly. Or you or your spouse is attending college or a vocational training program in another city.
While financial documents are great evidence, you can also provide information that the two of you are members of clubs, religious organizations, teams, and other associations together.
Insurance and Estate Documents: Statements that show that you are covered by your spouse’s health insurance or that he or she is covered by your insurance plan are great proof that you are a couple. The same goes for joint automobile or home insurance policies and life insurance policies that list you or your spouse as the beneficiary in case the other dies. Additionally, provide copies of your duly executed estate documents (wills, trusts, and even information on your funeral or burial location) if you have them. This shows USCIS that you and your spouse intend for the other to inherit your property after death.
Proof That You Vacationed Together: You can provide copies of travel documents and itineraries for a honeymoon or a family vacation. If your spouse has traveled abroad to visit your family members, it shows a genuine interest in you as a person. Also, if you planned a honeymoon or vacation together, it tends to show that your marriage is not a sham and that you are planning trips together for pleasure.
Photographs: Don’t be afraid to share wedding pictures and photographs of you and your spouse during your marriage.
Proof That You Share a Family Name: You can submit copies of identification documents showing that your spouse took your name or that you took his or hers. However, it is not necessary that the two of you share a surname to prove that you have a genuine marriage. Plenty of couples decide for a variety of reasons to keep their original surnames after marriage.
Affidavits, Letters, and Correspondence: While it’s not the best evidence, you can also submit letters and emails that you and your spouse sent to each other during your relationship, or letters and emails from others that address you as a couple. You can also submit a personal statement describing how you met your spouse and details of your relationship that prove that it was based on love and affection, as well as affidavits from other people who know the both of you or attended your wedding and can provide evidence and affirm that your marriage and relationship was genuine.
What kinds of questions might I be asked? The I-751 interview is different than the initial green card interview. In this interview they want to find out if you had a real and genuine marriage. They go into a lot of detail and can ask very personal questions. Here are some topics that you might want to talk over with someone before attending the interview:
- How you met your ex-spouse?
- What was the length of your dating period before marriage?
- How was your relationship with your spouse’s family?
- When did you start experiencing problems in your marriage?
- Did you take any steps to resolve those issues?
- Which one of you initiated the divorce?
- When did you move out of the marital residence?
- Was there any infidelity?
- What specific factors led to dissolving your marriage?
- Are you in a new relationship?
- Why do you think this one might work even though you got divorced?
They may ask different questions, but the general idea is that they want to know about your marriage and what issues made you divorce. Become comfortable talking about the issues in your marriage, and be prepared to be candid and forthright with the officer about what went wrong. Every relationship is unique, but there are certain patterns that come up with some regularity, especially when the relationship is ending after a relatively short period of time. If you married after a very brief courtship (6 months or less), or if you and your spouse come from very different cultural backgrounds, be prepared to answer questions about that. The officer may seem to be suggesting that you were wrong to marry your spouse, but only you know why you made the decision to marry who and when you did. You need to take ownership of those decisions--you made the choices you did for a reason, and whether you wish now that things had turned out differently is irrelevant to having your case approved, as long as your reasons for marrying were genuine.
As with any encounter with USCIS, projecting confidence and being honest and forthright will be the key to your success.