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What You Really Want to Know | Episode #5 | I just received a Stokes Interview Notice from USCIS, what is it and what should I expect?


Transcript: Hi, this is Attorney Shaffer. Today on “What You Really Want To Know,” we answer the question, I just received a Stokes Interview Notice, what is it and what should I expect?

A Stokes Interview is a type of immigration marriage interview. It goes by many different names depending on where in the country you live, but essentially they are all the same. The reason they occur is because USCIS has a reason to doubt the validity of your marriage.

Generally, there are two different reasons that you are going to be called in for a Stokes Interview, either:

  1. A marriage petition is filed after the alien relative is placed into removal/ deportation proceedings, or;

  2. At your first marriage interview, you and your spouse didn’t submit enough evidence of your marriage or things just didn’t go very well and you didn’t answer enough questions correctly.

So what happens at a Stokes Interview?

Well they begin just like a regular marriage interview: the immigration officer will ask you and your spouse if there are any changes or updates to the information contained on the application and is going to ask you to provide any updated marriage evidence.

At a regular marriage interview, the Immigration Officer will then start to ask you and your spouse questions about one another.

However, at a Stokes Interview, before any question is asked, the immigration officer will ask you or your spouse to leave the room and go wait in the waiting room. Then the immigration officer is going to start asking questions to you alone. When the immigration officer is done asking you questions, you and your spouse are going to switch places and those same questions will be asked to your spouse. When the officer is done asking your spouse those questions, he is going to bring you both back in and if you and your spouse answered any questions incorrectly or answered them different than the other, the immigration officer is going to tell you what those answers are, well he is going to say the question and the answers and give you and your spouse a chance to explain why you answered the questions differently.

Stokes Interviews tend to be very confrontational, and the reason is because USCIS already has doubts that you have a real marriage and they are going to make you prove to them that it is real. It can be very very nerve-racking, especially for people who don’t do well under pressure.

It is thus highly highly recommended that you exercise your right to have a lawyer present at the Interview. Attorney Shapiro and I have gone on thousands of these Stokes Interviews and we find that not only is our presence as lawyers there comforting and reassuring to our clients who are very nervous about what will happen in that room, but more importantly our role there is to ensure that the Immigration Officer acts appropriately and does not become too aggressive when asking questions. Although as a lawyer our job is to be there for our client, we also serve a dual role in these interviews, we serve more like a judge. We make sure that the process is fair and that you and your spouse are given an appropriate opportunity to answer the questions and then to provide these explanations if you answer any questions differently.

If you or someone you know has an upcoming Stokes Interview, contact an experienced attorney at The Shapiro Law Firm today to make sure that you are given a fair chance to prove that your marriage is real! That is all for this episode of “What You Really Want To Know,” thanks for watching!