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Preparing for a Citizenship Interview

After acquiring a green card and residing in the United States for a period, the next step for most Green Card Holders is to advance their status to become citizens of the U.S.

The process of becoming a citizen of the United States is quite rigorous and involves multiple stages. The most important stage of this process is the immigration interview.

An immigration interview is a formal meeting between an applicant and a consular officer to confirm specific information about the applicant and validate the details provided in the application made by the applicant.

Preparing for any important interview can be nerve-wracking, especially one that has the potential to change one's immigration status. As daunting as it may be, getting the right information and preparing in advance can ease the nerves. Consulting with an immigration attorney can also help provide guidance and clarity on what to expect before, during, and after the immigration interview.

Immigration Interview, Do's and Don'ts.

An immigration interview can be done within or outside the United States, depending on the purpose of the application. For a person seeking to acquire U.S. citizenship, the interview would be done within the U.S. by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). However, when the interview is done outside the U.S. for any other purpose, it is handled by the United State Department of State - Bureau of Consular Affairs. 

Although an immigration interview may differ depending on the application, the format for all interviews is usually the same.

While preparing for an immigration interview, there are a few essential things to remember, do or avoid to improve the outcome of the interview:


  • Visit The Office Before The Day of The Interview: A visit to the designated interview location before the day of the interview would help applicants get acquainted with some information like - distance to the area, transportation service, parking accommodations, the exact room or office the interview is to be held, and so on.

  • Prepare Ahead And Get Familiar With The Questions: This can be done with the help of an immigration attorney. An immigration attorney is conversant with the process and has an idea of some questions that could be asked during an interview. Applicants can schedule a prep session with the immigration attorney to assist them with the best way to answer these questions. 

  • Get All Necessary Documents Ready: it is important to go through the interview schedule and get all the necessary documents for the interview. Look out for all the documents needed for the application and provide them accordingly. Fill out the appropriate form that suits the application and carry a copy of the completed form along. Omitting any required document would delay the application process by weeks or months, as applicants would be required to send the omitted document through the mail. To avoid any case or accusation of fraud, it is advisable to provide the original copy of all the documents to support the copies already made. Also, ensure that all documents are updated and in their latest version. For example, if there has been any change in the applicant's personal information (like a change in name), the documents must be updated to reflect this change. 

  • Dress Appropriately: There is no stipulated dress code for an immigration interview; however, it is advisable to dress professionally. This would give the applicant a more confident and respectable appearance. Also, ensure the outfit is comfortable. 

  • Be Punctual: Applicants should be at the interview location as early as possible. Multiple interviews are conducted daily, and a particular time has been allocated to each applicant. In the event that an applicant misses the interview time, they might need to apply for a reschedule. Applicants should be at the location at least 50 minutes before the time of the interview. 

  • Get An Interpreter: For applicants who do not speak or understand English properly, it is advisable to come to the interview with an interpreter; this would make communicating with the interviewer easier and faster. 


  • Avoid Forgery or Dishonesty: Applicants must ensure that all documents presented to the interviewer are correct and original. Applicants must also be truthful with any information or answer they give. A fake document or dishonest answer may compromise the outcome of the interview.

  • Avoid Unnecessary Information: Only provide answers to what is petitioned and ensure that the answer is clear and direct. Do not provide unnecessary information because this can lead to a misunderstanding. 

  • Avoid Any Arguments: This can be with the interviewer or a family member. Respond politely to any questions asked. Interview questions have been formulated within the allowed boundaries established by the USCIS policy. Therefore, be polite and answer them in the best way possible, even if these questions might seem inappropriate or unrelated to the selected topic. Also, If by any chance there are missing documents or forms, do not argue with the USCIS officer; instead, ask for an explanation to determine the source of the problem and attempt to remedy the situation. It is also important to avoid arguments with family members during the interview and settle all conflicts or disagreements beforehand. 

  • Maintain Formality All Through The Interview: Applicants should always bear in mind that it is a formal interview and avoid any unwarranted humor or sarcasm. 

  • Avoid Ambiguity: Applicants are advised to be as clear and simple as possible when providing answers to questions and avoid using ambiguous or big words. This would help to prevent miscommunication or misunderstanding during the interview. 

What Kind of Questions do They Ask at an Immigration Interview? 

It is important to consider the fact that there is no master list of questions publicly available. The questions may differ depending on the reason for the interview. While some of these questions may not be static, they are some possible questions that may be asked in an immigration interview for married couples and family-based immigration. 

Married Couples

  • Who chose the wedding ring?
  • Who bought the engagement rings?
  • When and where did they get married?
  • Was there a reception after the wedding ceremony?
  • Did they go on a honeymoon?
  • What was the location of the honeymoon?
  • Where did they first meet?
  • How long have they been together?
  • Where was their first date?
  • At what point did their relationship turn romantic?
  • How long did it take before they decided to get married?
  • Why did their engagement last for a long or short period?
  • Who proposed to whom?
  • Were there any restrictions or disapproval from any family or friends?
  • Were they living together before marriage?

Family-Based Immigration

  • How old are the kids?
  • Who takes the kids to school?
  • Where do the kids work?
  • Names of their kids’ friends.
  • What is their favorite food?
  • What tv show do they watch the most? 
  • What is the name of the school they attend?
  • Do the kids have any skills or play any sport? 
  • What time do they eat dinner? 
  • What is the regular bedtime?
  • What side of the bed does each of them sleep on?
  • Do they shower together?
  • What pajamas do they wear?
  • Do they share bills?
  • Do they have any insurance policy with the other spouse listed as a beneficiary? 
  • What is their spouse’s favorite meal?
  • Do they know their spouse’s family members? 
  • Do they have any stepchildren? Their names, ages, and where they live
  • Do they have any pets? What kind, what are their names, and describe them?
  • Who cooks the meals at the house?
  • When was the last time their spouse got a vacation from work?
  • What do they do during holidays and vacations? 
  • Do they get gifts for each other?
  • What was the last gift they got for their spouse?

Parents' Green Card Immigration Questions.

The parents of a U.S. citizen can apply for a green card as immediate relatives, as long as the U.S citizen is up to 21 years.

Below are some of the immigration questions that may be asked to parents applying for a green card in the United States:

  • How many kids do they have? 
  • How old are their kids? 
  • Where will they stay in the U.S.?
  • Have they been to the U.S. before?
  • Are their kids married?
  • Do their kids have children? 
  • What do they do for a living?
  • What do their kids do for a living? 
  • Reason for going to the U.S.
  • For how long have their kids been in the U.S?
  • How is their relationship with their kids, and how regular do they communicate with them? 
  • Who would cater for their stay in the U.S.?

If a U.S citizen petitions for a green card on their parents' behalf, it is advisable that they get accustomed to these questions to ease their interview process. 

How Long does an Immigration Interview Last?

An immigration interview usually lasts for about 20 minutes; however, the time may vary depending on the type of application and the reason for the interview.

What Happens if You don’t Pass the Interview?

In the event that the immigration interview or naturalization test was unsuccessful, another interview or would be rescheduled between 60-90 days after the initial interview. If the rescheduled interview is also unsuccessful. Applicants can either start the entire process from the beginning or appeal the denial of the application earlier made. 

Can My Immigration Lawyer Prep Me for My Interview?

An immigration attorney is well versed in the process and would be of great assistance to the applicant. An immigration attorney can help an applicant in the following ways:

  • Prep sessions before the interview to familiarize the applicants with the possible questions that may be asked and how to answer the questions confidently.
  • To prepare certain documents like affidavits or briefs. An immigration attorney can assist the applicant in preparing any legal documents they may need for the interview. 
  • An immigration attorney can enlighten the applicants on some interview guidelines they should take note of.

It is advisable to always have an immigration attorney in close reach in case of any confusion.