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When the government comes knocking at your door after the wedding

Emigrating from another country to build a new life in Kentucky may be a dream you waited years to fulfill. As a newly married person as well, you're likely still going through an adjustment period as all newlyweds typically do. As a newly married immigrant, you may face certain challenges that U.S. citizens don't, such as overcoming a language barrier and getting used to new customs and cultural situations. Hopefully, your married life and residence in the United States will bring you lasting joy.

The pleasure and adventure of becoming a productive member of society in Kentucky may come to a screeching halt if your marriage is among those the federal government calls into question regarding its validity. Living as a stranger in a new land is stressful enough. Having to prove that your marriage is authentic can be downright frightening, especially because your residence in the United States may be at stake. The good news is there are support resources available to help you.

Start by understanding the process that lies ahead

When learning to speak, read and write in English, you've likely encountered vocabulary that was new to you. One such term, "a Stokes interview," may warrant explanation because the outcome of the process will determine whether you can continue building your new, married life in the U.S. or face deportation. The following facts define and further explain the Stokes interview process:

  • The Stokes interview process is a means the federal government uses to determine whether you and your spouse have committed marriage fraud in order to secure your green card.
  • The process involves a series of questions that you and your spouse must answer. Immigration officials will conduct the interview and will base their decision as to whether your marriage is authentic on your answers.
  • Immigration officers may ask you questions while you and your spouse are in the same room. They will also likely separate the two of you at some point to ask you similar questions without allowing you to hear each others' answers. Officials will then compare your answers to see if they coincide. For instance, if they ask you what color your bedroom walls are and you say something different from your spouse, it will not look good.
  • A particular line of questioning may be in reference to your finances, so you should arrive prepared to provide personal banking information such as account numbers and other private details.
  • Some questions may seem very intimate. Although you may be uncomfortable answering, it is critical that you do so as honestly as possible because your answers may affect your ability to remain in the United States.
  • Officials may want to see photographic evidence of the history of your relationship with your spouse. In addition to this type of hard copy evidence, there are other documents and forms you should bring to your interview.

It's understandable that you'd be nervous or worried when you receive a notice to appear at a Stokes interview. You can alleviate some of your fears by preparing as thoroughly as possible ahead of time. You can also seek clarification about your personal rights and the options available to help you interview well by consulting with an experienced immigration law attorney.

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