As a rule, USCIS can schedule an interview for any benefit, at any time, at its convenience, if it will assist it in carrying out its duty of adjudicating immigration benefits under applicable law and regulations.
Section 216(d)(3) notes that an I-751 personal interview “shall be conducted within 90 days after the date of submitting a petition … at a local office of the Service”. This regulation also allows the interview requirement to be waived.
In I-751 cases, an interview at a local USCIS field office is scheduled approximately 20% to 30% of filings.
A couple can be called in for an interview together when they file jointly, or if a waiver is requested, the applicant is called in alone.
There are 4 reasons why USCIS would require an interview:
1) To evaluate whether the marriage is or was bona fide;
2) Potential inadmissibility, such as a criminal record or undisclosed issue; or
3) Other eligibility grounds (such as the nature of the abuse, if submitting an abused spouse waiver).
4) An interview may also be scheduled at random.
If an I-751 joint-filing couple or an individual applicant filing a waiver is called in for an interview, this is not a cause for concern.
The interview should be taken seriously and prepared for in advance.
If the I-751 petition is denied, the applicant will likely be referred to immigration court for Removal Proceedings.
Whether filing jointly as a couple or individually based on a good faith, abused spouse or extreme hardship waiver, all the details of the case should be reviewed with an experienced immigration attorney prior to the interview.
If your U.S. Citizen spouse does not sign the I-751 petition, and you had asked for a waiver of the joint-filing requirement that would raise the chances of being called in for an interview significantly.
Keep in mind that even if you have an unstable marriage and that you would probably like to avoid the I-751 interview, an unstable marriage is not a disqualifying factor for permanent U.S. residence. The important thing is whether the marriage is bona fide, not whether it’s stable. If you are called in for an interview, however, be sure to prepare documents proving your valid marriage.