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Stokes Interview

The infamous "Stokes Interview" occurs during the green card through marriage process after the initial interview of the couple when USCIS suspects marriage fraud. After an initial interview of a couple in connection with a marriage based green card application, USCIS will "invite" the couple back for a second interview if they suspect marriage fraud. This second interview is known as the "Stokes Interview", which got its name from a Federal District Court decision, Stokes v. INS. Fraud can be suspected for many reasons, including insufficient documentation regarding the relationship, inconsistent information provided at the initial interview, inability to answer certain questions, etc. The Stokes Interview is a rather rare occurrence, but can easily happen if you are not properly prepared for your interview. If you are scheduled for a Stokes Interview, do not panic, as it does not mean an automatic denial, but it is important for you to take it very seriously as it could result in a denial of your case.

What happens during a Stokes Interview?

During a Stokes Interview, the USCIS officer separates the couple and asks very specific personal and invasive questions. The questions could span from the color of appliances in the home, to much more personal matters between the couple. The interview is taped and could last several hours. After interviewing both spouses, the officer compares the information to determine if there are any conflicts. If the info provided conflicts, the couple will be given an opportunity to explain.

What will happen if our answers don't match and the officer suspects fraud?

If after the Stokes Interview the officer suspects fraud, then he/she will deny the adjustment application and you will likely be put in removal proceedings.

What are the criminal penalties for marriage fraud?

Marriage fraud is a federal crime which carries quite severe penalties. If the couple is deemed to have entered into the marriage for the purpose of evading any provision of the immigration laws, each of them is potentially subject to a penalty of five years imprionment and a $250,000 fine.

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