For some couples, the Stokes interview is a crucial step in achieving lawful permanent residence.
Aliens who are looking for how to get a Green Card should contact us before starting any immigration process. Our New Jersey immigration lawyers will help you avoid making any mistakes in the process.
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What Is The Marriage Fraud Interview Or Stokes Interview?
The marriage fraud interview or Stokes interview, is a second chance for couples to prove to USCIS that their marriage is authentic.
When couples go to a local USCIS office to attend the marriage Green Card interview, one of the following scenarios may occur:
- The couple successfully manages to pass the interview. As a result, the alien will be able to obtain permanent residence, or
- The couple receives a notice of clarification for an interview from Stokes.
The Stokes interview is known as the “marriage fraud interview” because if USCIS suspects that the marriage is fraudulent, it will conduct this second interview.
To detect and avoid marriage fraud, couples must successfully complete the Marriage based Green Card interview questions. On our site, we have written a blog where we show many sample questions that could be asked.
What To Expect At The Stokes Interview?
Couples who use marriage to obtain permanent residence in the United States have to convince immigration officials that the marriage is real. Therefore, the union of the couple has to be in good faith.
If an immigration officer suspects that the marriage is for the sole purpose of obtaining a Green Card, then the couple will be sent for a second interview. Therefore, the couple must demonstrate that their marriage is not a farce.
Origins Of The Stokes Interviews
The origins of this second marriage interview can be seen in the decision of the Federal District Court of Stokes v. INS. From this case, is where the name Stokes interviews comes from.
Under this case, when the immigration officers question the veracity of the marriage, the applicant will have to receive a written notice. This notice must describe:
- All rights of the parties involved.
- A separate schedule of rights.
- A list of documents to submit.
Many potential clients ask us: “Can an undocumented immigrant get married in the United States”, and this is a complex matter. Therefore, we invite you to explore your options in our related article.
What Happens At The Second Appointment Of The Marriage Immigration Interview?
During the second appointment, a USCIS officer will ask the couple a few separate questions. These questions are because the immigrant’s application is on shaky ground, and could mean that the immigration officer has reason to believe that:
- Marriage fraud is being committed, or
- The immigrant is not eligible to have a Green Card.
Are you not eligible for residency for any reason? If you committed an immigration violation, you may be eligible for an immigration waiver. Read our article on the waiver of inadmissibility for further information.
2023 Stokes Interview Questions
Some of the questions in this second interview can be asked for the immigrant spouse and others for the US resident or citizen. These questions seek to show the bond they have with each other.
Some examples of these questions could be:
- Is your spouse vegan?
- What did your spouse have for breakfast this morning?
- Does your spouse drink alcohol?
- What is your spouse’s least favorite food?
- Who makes breakfast, lunch or dinner?
- When was the last time you ate at a restaurant?
- Have you participated in any crime such as human trafficking or migrant smuggling ?
- With what type of American visa did you enter the United States?
- What color is the carpet in your home?
- Where do they keep the toothbrushes?
These questions are only a small sample of the real ones. To learn more about the possible questions you may be asked, we invite you to contact our firm.
Considerations To Keep In Mind About The Stokes Interview
There are certain factors to take into account about the second marriage interview, these are:
- The couples will be questioned separately. This means that neither will know what kind of questions will be asked of the other.
- There are several reasons why couples are called in for a Stokes interview. If so, couples will be notified in advance before beginning this process.
- Failure to successfully pass the Stokes interview will lead to various immigration penalties, since it suggests that there is a possible marriage fraud.
If the government believes that the US spouse married the immigrant solely to help them get a Green Card, they will be issued a “Notice of Intent to Deny.”
During this scenario, the couple will have 30 days to explain all the discrepancies encountered. If the government is still dissatisfied with the answers provided, the couple can file an appeal.
If The Appeal Is Denied
In case the appeal is denied, the immigrants will be sent a notice to appear before the Immigration Court. This will be to face deportation charges in connection with the marriage fraud accusations.
- Although the court hearings offer the immigrant a new opportunity to defend themselves, it will not be an easy task. The reason is that the entire record of the couple’s disparate responses will be presented as evidence.
- Responses will be subject to cross-examination by a US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) attorney.
- Additionally, the answers will be under review by the judge assigned to the case.
If you believe that your marriage was genuine and in good faith, you should not be afraid of these processes.
Documents Required For Stokes Interview
Couples appearing at the Stokes interview may need to submit some of the following documents:
- Rent receipts.
- Passport of the immigrant spouse.
- Bank account information.
- Utility receipts.
- Tax returns.
- Photo identification of the citizen spouse.
- Insurance policy.
- Photo albums.
- Marriage certificate.
- Employment letters.
- The last two pay stubs.
- Proof of US citizenship.
You lost your US citizenship certificate? Don’t worry, you may be able to get it back. Check our respective publication where you will learn the steps to follow for this process.
Reasons Why Couples Receive The Notice Of The Second Marriage Interview
At the beginning of the Stokes interview, the spouses are told why they are being called in for this investigation. Usually these reasons are:
- The couple do not speak the same language.
- The immigration officer is not convinced of the veracity of the marriage.
- A suspicious document has been mentioned or submitted.
- Getting married after being informed of the deportation of the immigrant spouse.
- Big age difference.
- Big difference in educational level.
- Cultural differences, religious, lifestyle and others.
- Lack of joint finances.
Currently, there are some immigration programs for aliens who want to travel to the US to work or stay in the country legally for a significant amount of time. An example is the new process for Venezuelans.
How Long Does The Stokes Interview Take?
Stokes interviews can last up to 8 hours. This is because the couples will be separated and will be asked a few questions for this interview.
- If there is a significant lack of compatibility between the responses, the officers will bring the couple together to explain these inconsistencies.
- Small mistakes will be taken into account and if there are many different answers, they will not pass the interview.
- It can be difficult to maintain trust in these scenarios, but a lack of trust makes immigration officers suspicious.
- Therefore, the questions asked will only be to find out the relationship history that the couple has and if their marriage is in good faith.
Stokes interviews are very stressful. In fact, couples who have been together for several years can suffer in this process. Therefore, we recommend that you prepare adequately for these interviews.
Do you think you have a deportation order against you? We recommend that you read our article “How to know if I have a deportation order”.
How Long Does It Take To Be Notified For A Stokes Interview?
A Stokes interview may occur shortly after the couple has married. In some cases, this interview can also occur months or years after the wedding.
Officials will pay attention to all the intimate details of the relationship. For example, if you have been married for several years but have not had children.
What Happens After The Stokes Interview?
After Stokes’ interview, the couple’s responses will be compared and officials will ask for clarification on any discrepancies found. Generally, there are four possible outcomes:
- Approval: The immigration officer will inform the couple in person that their case has been approved.
- Request for Evidence (RFE): The immigration officer will ask the couple for an RFE to obtain more information. In this way, the RFE will request additional documents to verify that the relationship is authentic.
- Additional review: The immigration officer will tell the couple that the case requires additional review. As a result, the couple must wait until they receive a notification in the mail about the final decision and next steps.
- Denial: The final decision in the case has led to the belief that the evidence submitted is insufficient to prove the authenticity of the marriage. However, in some cases, the officer will give the couple an opportunity to clarify certain issues before making this final decision.
Did you know that in some scenarios it is possible to reopen an immigration case? Learn the right way on how to file a motion to reopen an immigration case in our corresponding blog.
What Happens If I Don’t Pass The Stokes Interview?
If it is evident that it is a fraudulent marriage, the immigrant will not be able to obtain permanent residence. In addition, certain legal measures will be applied to the couple. For example:
- Refusal for the Green Card.
- Sentence for up to 5 years in prison.
- Charges for crimes such as visa fraud or perjury.
This is possible under section 204(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 US Code § 1154. This also prevents the immigrant from obtaining a Green Card in the future through a second marriage.
Other individuals may be charged with committing criminal offenses under section 275(c) of the INA. Such penalties can be severe, ranging from several years in prison to having to pay more than $250,000 in fines.
What Happens If I Lie In My Stokes Interview?
Lying to immigration officials will have serious consequences. For example, the immigrant may be deported from the country and be inadmissible to apply for a US visa.
Will USCIS Review My Social Media Accounts?
A USCIS officer may review the couple’s Meta account and other social media. The purpose of this is to check the credibility of your marriage.
How To Prepare For Stokes Interview?
- Answer honestly and don’t try to guess. Immigration officers are trained to assess the attitude and body language of individuals. Therefore, they could easily detect a lie.
- If you do not know the answer to any question, it is best to admit it, instead of trying your luck.
- Submit all the evidence about the relationship. The couple must provide all possible evidence that the marriage is true. Immigration officers look for evidence to know that the marriage is real and not a fraud.
- Consult with our immigration attorney. If the case is complex, it is best to consult with our lawyer Carolina, who has more than 10 years of experience helping immigrants on this issue.
- It is possible that if more reassurance is needed during this process, the lawyer can be asked to accompany them to the interview.
Our firm has helped hundreds of individuals across the US, especially those communities most affected by discrimination. For example, the LGBTQ+ community. If you are seeking help regarding this issue, please do not hesitate to contact our New Jersey LGBTQ+ immigration lawyer.
How Can The Curbelo Law Firm Help You In The Stokes Interview?
The Stokes interview can be a scary experience for many couples. An example is that the interviewer might know something about one partner that the other does not, such as criminal records.
- Whichever the case, the couple will have to explain the details of their relationship and marriage in a similar way to successfully pass this interview.
- Although a good idea is to prepare in advance for the possible questions that will be asked in the interview, it is best to consult with our immigration lawyer.
- Thanks to the legal advice and help of our lawyer Carolina, the chances of success for couples increase considerably.
Therefore, we recommend that you contact us through our telephone number, by E-mail or by scheduling an appointment with our office located in Ridgewood, New Jersey.