My journey from F-1 to green card interview based on marriage:
With this I hope if you are in true marriage to help you get through the process just as others did without the help of a lawyer. Also other immigrant spouses journeys have been helpful to me. First my husband wanted to surprise me and submitted some of the documents without a check for payment?? And he did it without a tracking number to save money. So we wanted to intercept the package but without one it is impossible to intercept by the mail. After a few weeks (I think about two) we received our application back and a green slip that it was rejected. They stated the reason was we had not attached a payment. That scared us and motivated us to postpone resubmitting. I was very worried about it as not many people are careless like that to send a package that gets rejected. The key is it is not denied but not accepted and processed as it is incomplete. After about a year and a half we applied again as my stem OPT was about to expire. This time we sent as many of the documents together as possible as that also saves the fee. My worry was once I apply it negates my F-1 status but I have an EAD from it so even though it is a grey zone I continued working and had an Infopass appointment to confirm it is Ok, and they seemed to confirm it causes no issues. The issue was that it was approaching 90 days fast with no EAD in sight. The EAD tracking was not even showing up on the internet for a long time before. After calling and escalating with USCIS as much as I could, they told me the 90 days guarantee does not include the shipping or the delays to push them that it is past 90 days. That is when I contacted the senator s offices to help me. It takes some time to fill out and send their privacy release form so they can begin working on your case. Contact them a bit earlier. Contact both of them and all of them as only one office turned very helpful and I could compare. Session s was faster and more useful than Ted Cruz s that neglected my case. The ombudsman is hard to be contacted before 90 days have passed. They said they needed need a letter from your employer specifically stating that you will lose your job in the coming weeks if you do not receive a valid EAD. Wording should include the date of termination and that termination is based on an expiring EAD. That also turned out to take HR some time to produce and delay me further. I was glad after 85 day of pending I initiated multiple complaints and I still had a week reserve past the 90 days. Finally they got responses about my EAD and received it a couple of days after.
Unlike the EAD the interview was scheduled earlier than expected for Dallas. I had to bring the notice, ID and supporting documents. My application was accepted May 13th and my interview was January 17th at 8 am. We went through a metal detector and had to leave the water behind. We went upstairs to a waiting area with a sign in desk. It looked like it was the first for the day as the interviewer was waiting for me at the check-in desk, where I show the notice. He was very polite and walked us to a card access area to his office. We swore to tell the truth. He asked us how we met, he asked my husband what is my dad s name as it is a hard to remember ethnic name. He asked for my medical sealed from and I said I had submitted it with all other forms. Then he found it. Maybe we should have waited in case its 1-year validity expired. He asked me all the yes/no questions such as being part of genocide. I stumbled on the communist party question as I was born after the fall of communism in my country as I stated that but no explanation was needed besides an affirmative no. He had no great interest in the picture sand evidence as I had submitted some with my application already and asked us how we manage to travel so much and about our jobs. He even shared his backstory and job before becoming a USCSI officer. It took about 30 minutes and we were done. I was worried it will be harder since I delayed applying for about two years but got the unconditional card.One way out I saw a line for the metal detector, so coming a bit earlier maybe a good idea.
The key to success was being organized and making a good index sheet. I was careful with the shipping as the USPS courier I think has to be sent to the PO box. The correct address has to be checked very carefully. I still had tracking on when it was delivered. I had subfolders and one big folder for each packet. Each subpacket had hits own index and tabs as allowed per USCIS instructions. I think sending most of my evidence and a selection of pictures helped speed up the interview date assignment. Because I am lawfully present in the US I could jointly file and speed up the process. There is a combined filing fee, make sure to have the correct fee or you will be rejected. If you truly love each there is no need for a lawyer until complications arise. People; on the internet have been helpful and I want to give back. This is my experience just to help you form your expectation. Do not take anything written here as guarantee and it is also from my memory, maybe not exactly accurate. Below is my index as a PDF attachment.