When you and your spouse decided to build a life together in Texas, you may have begun by getting married in a church or courthouse and having a celebration with your relatives and friends. Then again, perhaps yours was a simple, quiet wedding day with just the two of you and a couple close friends who acted as witnesses. Either way, getting married and starting a new life with your spouse may be a dream come true for you.
If you or your spouse happen to have emigrated to Texas from another country, married life might also include filling out paperwork for a visa or applying for a green card. Should the U.S. government request your presence at a Stokes interview, it might mean an official has flagged your application, and you will need to answer some questions before being permitted to become a permanent resident.
Prepare to answer questions separately
You might feel nervous when you and your spouse attend an interview with U.S. immigration officials. Knowing that you’ll be by each other’s sides might be a comforting thought. However, it is highly likely that, at some point during your interview, officials will separate you and your spouse to ask you questions.
The purpose of this is so that immigration officials can compare the answers you provide with your spouse’s answers. If the things you say don’t coincide, it might be a problem. For instance, if officials ask you what color your bedroom is, they expect you and your spouse to give the same answer.
Be as prepared as possible
It’s a good idea to have all immigration paperwork in order, whether you or your spouse is the one who immigrated to Texas. For the purpose of a Stokes interview, it’s also helpful to arrive with additional hard copy evidence to show that your marriage is legitimate, which is, after all, the purpose of the interview.
Things that can help you include photos that show a timeline, meaning experiences you and your spouse have shared together throughout your relationship. Greeting cards, handwritten letters and other tokens of affection are also helpful when trying to prove that your marriage is authentic and not a scheme you committed to get a green card.
Small details may have a big impact
The questions the interviewer asks you may be personal. Do you remember where you went on your first date or how you met your spouse? Can you name all the members of your spouse’s family or his or her employer? It’s a good idea to know as much about each other as you can before attending a Stokes interview.
No detail is too minor, including what your least favorite foods are, what your pajamas look like or what your favorite thing to do on a weekend happens to be. Officials can ask anything they want to try to determine whether your marriage is legitimate or fraudulent.
Make sure you understand the process ahead of time
A Stokes interview can affect your or your spouse’s ability to obtain permanent residency. In fact, it might place you or your spouse at risk for deportation if things don’t go well. It’s helpful to speak to someone who has been through a similar experience, as well as a legal advocate who is well-versed in U.S. immigration policies and can help you exercise your rights.
While such interviews can be stressful, it’s best to try to remain calm, be as prepared as possible and know where to seek support if a problem arises.